Sabin Center Celebrates New Era of Environmental Leadership

The Generosity of the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Supports Columbia Law School's Groundbreaking Work in Climate Change Law
New York, October 30, 2014—In the past six years, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law has become a world-renowned pioneer in "the development of new legal techniques to fight climate change,” Columbia Law School Dean Robert E. Scott said recently at an event held to celebrate a new gift to the center from the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation.
Attendees honor Andy Sabin, right, for his commitment to
and passion for environmental preservation.
The foundation, a charitable organization headed by environmentalist and philanthropist Andrew Sabin, donated $3.5 million to the Law School in August, a gift that will enable the center to expand and take on further initiatives. In recognition of Sabin’s vision and friendship, the center—previously known as the Center for Climate Change Law—has been renamed the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

“The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law has emerged as one of the leading institutions in the world for the serious study of legal issues pertaining to climate change,” said Dean Scott, the Alfred McCormack Professor of Law, at the Oct. 8 gathering, which included Sabin’s friends, family, and colleagues. “Columbia Law School and the entire University are truly fortunate to have among our friends the extraordinarily generous Andy Sabin, and we are very pleased to be renaming the center to convey our thanks to Andy for all he has done for us.”
Michael B. Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice and director of the  Sabin Center for Climate Change
In 2008, Sabin’s foundation provided funding to help launch the center and to support the first endowed professorship at any law school in the world devoted exclusively to climate law. Columbia Law School tapped Michael B. Gerrard, a leading environmental lawyer who had worked previously with Sabin, to lead the center and direct its work. Since then, the center has made enormous progress in advancing effective legal responses to climate change, from strengthening the resiliency of New York City infrastructure to drawing global attention to the plight of Pacific Island nations vanishing as sea levels rise.

Gerrard, the inaugural Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, reminisced about his decades-long friendship with Sabin and the bumpy road to climate progress.
“In 2008, when I was preparing to leave full-time private practice to focus on climate change, the direction seemed clear,” Gerrard said. “Both parties’ presidential candidates, Senators Obama and McCain, were strong supporters of action, so people thought that Congress would soon pass a cap-and-trade law. Alas, it didn’t turn out that way, for reasons I’ll leave to our friends in the political science department.”
In addition to Scott and Gerrard, incoming Sabin Center Executive Director Michael Burger ’03, and Earth Institute Executive Director Steven A. Cohen also spoke warmly about Sabin, who serves as a member of Columbia’s Environmental Law Advisory Council.
Guests mingle at the Oct. 8 celebration of the Center's renaming.
Sabin’s commitment to environmental preservation is long-standing and personal as well as philanthropic. His company, Sabin Metal Corp., maintains stringent environmental management standards. Sabin founded the South Fork Natural History Museum, which educates thousands of visitors about the ecosystems of Long Island. And there is even a species of frog named after him, Aphantophryne sabini, discovered during an expedition he took to Papua New Guinea.

Towards the end of the evening, to thunderous applause, Sabin addressed the gathering and talked about what drives his commitment to sustainability and environmental preservation.

“I want to leave behind a living world,” Sabin said. “I want to do what I can, and think big.”
(l-r) Earth Institute Executive Director Steven A. Cohen, Gerrard, Sabin, Columbia Law School Dean Robert E. Scott, and incoming Sabin Center Executive Director Michael Burger '03.