Kelsey Skaggs

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Kelsey Skaggs

2018 Climate Fellow
Founder of Climate Defense Project with Alice Cherry

Kelsey Skaggs 2018 Climate Fellow

Bold Idea 

Remove barriers to nonviolent civil disobedience combating climate change by reducing legal risks and strengthening the global climate movement.

Multimedia 

Kelsey Skaggs, Ken Ward, and Cooper Brinson outside a Washington State courthouse, where a jury refused to convict Mr. Ward of charges stemming from a 2016 anti-pipeline protest. Photo courtesy of Climate Defense Project.
Kelsey Skaggs speaks about climate legal activism at the 2018 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon School of Law. Photo courtesy of Climate Defense Project.
Summary 

Climate Defense Project (CDP) provides legal support to the climate movement, specializing in representation of individuals arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience against fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines. CDP provides legal briefing on topics including the necessity defense, expert witness retention, trial preparation, attorney education, and communications consulting. Although one in six Americans are willing to engage in civil disobedience for the climate, legal support is lacking. CDP reduces barriers to participation in climate civil disobedience and amplifies its impact, supporting a just transition to clean energy and a stable climate for current and future generations.

Experience 

Kelsey Skaggs is executive director of Climate Defense Project. Born and raised in Alaska, she has seen the impacts of climate change firsthand. She has worked in the areas of environmental law, freedom of expression, family law, and international human rights law in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. Her article on the First Amendment implications of government surveillance won the Constance Baker Motley writing competition and was published in the University of Pennsylvania’s Journal of Constitutional Law. As a law student, she filed the first lawsuit to compel fossil fuel divestment. Upon graduating from Harvard Law School, Kelsey and her co-founders launched Climate Defense Project to develop legal strategies for the climate movement.

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