University of Calgary

David Wright

  • Assistant Professor

Bar Admissions

Nova Scotia (2008)
Nunavut (2009)
Northwest Territories (2016)


David’s teaching and research are focused chiefly on natural resources law, environmental law, energy law, Indigenous law, Aboriginal law, negotiations, rule of law, and sustainable development. Prior to joining the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law, David held positions with Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Gwich’in Tribal Council, the United Nations Development Programme, the Government of Nunavut, the law firm of Stewart McKelvey, and the Marine and Environmental Law Institute at Dalhousie University. During his graduate studies at Stanford Law School, David was a fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.  


Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Research Group


Law 406: Torts
Law 508: Negotiation

Research/Scholarly Activities

David researches primarily in the areas of natural resources law, environmental law, energy law, Indigenous law, Aboriginal law, and international dimensions of sustainable development law and policy. His research spans domestic and international contexts, driven by empirical and physical evidence of a chronic “implementation gap” between normative aims embodied in the law and actual improvement in social, economic and environmental conditions. David’s current and recent research includes the following areas and concepts: social cost of carbon, constitutional constrains on sub-national cross-border climate agreements, emissions trading, regulation of clean energy projects, public and Indigenous participation in regulatory reviews, domestic and international institutions for sustainable development, “Environmental Rule of Law”, and implementation of modern treaties in Canada.

Research Areas

  • Natural Resources Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Energy Law
  • Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Law
  • Climate Law
  • International Sustainable Development Law
  • Rule of Law

ABlawg: The Faculty of Law Blog

Selected Publications and Presentations

Journal Articles

  • “Federal Linear Energy Infrastructure Projects and Indigenous Rights” (2018) Rev. of Const’l Studies (Forthcoming)
  • “Carbonated Fodder: The Social Cost of Carbon in Canadian and U.S. Regulatory Decision-Making” (2017) Geogetown. Env. L. Rev. 513. (view)
  • “Cross-Border Constraints on Climate Change Agreements: Legal Risks in the California-Quebec Cap-and-Trade Linkage” (2016) 48 Env. L. Rep. 10478 (view)
  • “Options for Oversight in the Provincial Environmental Realm: Examples and Functions of Independent Environmental Oversight Offices” (2015) 29 J. Env. L. & Prac. (view)
  • “The Regulation of Tidal Energy Development Off Nova Scotia: Navigating Foggy Waters” (2006) 55 UNB L. J. 27 (co-authored with David VanderZwaag, Phillip Saunders, Dawn Russell and Meinhard Doelle). (view)


  • “Old Tensions, New Tools: Role of Cumulative Effects Analysis in Addressing GHGs”, Canada Institute – Cumulative Effects Conference (Calgary, AB, June 2018)
  • “Expanding the Pie: An intensive and progressive approach to mandatory negotiations curriculum”, Canadian Association of Law Teachers - The Whole Lawyer 2.0 Conference (Queen’s University, May 2018) (with Deanne Sowter)
  • “Rebuilding the Federal Environmental Law Regime: General Overview and Indigenous Dimensions”, Canadian Bar Association – Aboriginal Law Section, Alberta South (Calgary, AB, April 2018) (with Martin Olszynski)
  • “The Peel River Case: Implementation Through Litigation” presented at Modern Treaties and Reconciliation, Land Claims Agreements Coalition Conference (Ottawa, ON, November 2017)
  • “A Modern Treaty Implementation Review Commission” presented at Modern Treaties and Reconciliation, Land Claims Agreements Coalition Conference (Ottawa, ON, November 2017)
  • “Managing Legal Risks in Canada-US Sub-National Carbon Market Linkages”, presentation at Woods Institute Young Environmental Scholar’s Conference, Stanford University (December 2015)
  • “Climate Change Commitments in Canada”, presentation for Dalhousie’s Marine & Environmental Law Institute’s 40th Anniversary Conference (June 2015)
  • “Options for Oversight in the Provincial Realm: Examples and Functions of Independent Environmental Oversight Offices”, presented at ‘Apres… le Deluge’: Future Directions for Environmental Law and Policy in Canada, the Journal of Environmental Law & Practice’s 5th Biennial Conference (Kananaskis, AB, June 2015)
  • “Early Views into the Implementation of Canada’s New Environmental Assessment Legislation” presented at Igniting a Spark, the 3rd Conference of the Canadian Association of Environmental Law Societies (University of Calgary, February 2015)
  • “Offshore Oil and Gas Activities in Atlantic Canada”, presented at the Canadian Bar Association’s annual National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Summit (Yellowknife, NWT 2013)
  • “Toward a personal sustainability principle: the role and limits of environmental law and the individual”, Presented at the Community Connection, Collaboration and Celebration Conference (Acadia University, NS, May 2012)
  • “Renewable Energy Policy and Projects in Nunavut: The Arctic Experience”, presentation at the Aboriginal Renewable Energy Conference, the Canadian Institute, (Toronto, ON, 2010)

Books and Book Chapters

  • “Institutions for a Sustainable Future: The Canadian Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development”, in Marie Cordonier-Segger, ed, International Justice in Sustainable Development Treaty Implementation, (New York: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming in 2018) (with Jim McKenzie).
  • The Clean Development Mechanism: Climate Change Equity and the South-North Divide, (Saarbrücken: VDM-Verlag, 2007).
Powered by UNITIS. More features.