Durwood Zaelke is founder and President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) in Washington, DC, and Paris, where he focuses on fast mitigation strategies to protect the climate, including reducing short-lived climate pollutants (HFCs, black carbon, methane, and tropospheric ozone), in the context of the need for speed to limit anthropogenic warming to 1.5°C. IGSD’s fast-action mitigation program was first described in M. Molina, D. Zaelke, V, Ramanathan, S. O. Andersen, & D. Kaniaru (2009), Reducing abrupt climate change risk using the Montreal Protocol and other regulatory actions to complement cuts in CO2 emissions, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Prior to IGSD, Zaelke was the co-founder and President of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) in Washington, DC, and Geneva (1989-2003), and in London (1989-90), and Director of the Secretariat for the International Network for Environmental Compliance & Enforcement (2001-2015). Mr. Zaelke has taught at various law schools, including Yale Law School, Duke Law School’s Brussels’ program, American University’s Washington College of Law, where he founded the international and comparative law program, and the University of Nairobi Law Faculty, as well as at Johns Hopkins graduate environmental policy program. Zaelke also co-founded the Program on Governance for Sustainable Development at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is an adjunct professor.
He is the author, co-author, or editor of various publications including the leading law school textbook on International Environmental Law & Policy (with Hunter & Salzman) (6 ed.2021). With Nobel Laureate Dr. Mario Molina, Durwood co-chaired the Assessment of Climate and Development Benefits of Efficient and Climate-Friendly Cooling (2020), authored under the guidance of a Steering Committee of leading scholars and government, think tank, and independent experts; co-authored a chapter on super pollutants, focused on HFCs, with Professor V. Ramanathan at Scripps, UC San Diego, for the university textbook Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions (2019); and co-chaired with Dr. Molina and Professor Ramanathan the Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius: Fast Action Policies to Protect People and the Planet from Extreme Climate Change report, authored by a team of 33 prominent scientists and policy experts (2017).
In 2022 Zaelke was recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the 16 most influential people for Climate and Environment, among Washington, DC’s 500 Most Influential People. Zaelke also received both a Policy and Implementation Leadership Award and a Scientific Leadership Award in 2017 from the Montreal Protocol Secretariat at the 30th Anniversary Meeting of the Parties for his efforts to enact the Kigali Amendment to phase down HFCs for climate protection, and both an Ozone Protection Award and a Climate Protection Award in 2008 from the US EPA for his contributions to the successful effort to maximize the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol by accelerating the phaseout of HCFCs.
Zaelke is a graduate of Duke Law School (1972) and UCLA (1969), and a member of the bar in California, Washington, DC, and Alaska.