Amelia Burnette

SCELG PhD Member

Amelia joined SCELG in 2020 as a Fulbright Award recipient pursuing research at the intersection of environmental law and human rights. Amelia’s research examines a rights-based approach to redressing environmental harms, with a focus on climate change induced harms.  Exploring the human rights dimensions of climate change reflects Amelia’s interest in law as a mechanism to protect vulnerable communities, particularly those impacted by environmental degradation. Amelia engages with researchers in the law school’s Climate Change Litigation Initiative (C2LI) and the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law to support the multiple disciplinary approach of her research. 

Before joining SCELG, Amelia practiced law in the United States for over a decade, with a focus on protecting a healthy environment and communities that depend on natural resources.  She advocated for protection of water resources, forests, and imperiled species, and for proper accounting of climate impacts and planning for resiliency in agency decision-making. Through complex litigation before federal and state tribunals, she has developed expertise in the role of strategic litigation in environmental advocacy, securing victories halting unlawful fossil fuel pipeline projects through protected lands and compelling safe disposal of coal combustion residuals, as part of the largest cleanup of coal ash in the United States.  Amelia has presented regularly on legal advocacy related to protecting forests, biodiversity, and freshwater resources. 

Amelia holds a juris doctor from the University of North Carolina (high honors), a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville (cum laude), and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Areas of expertise

  • Environmental Justice
  • Climate Change