Aviation Legal Intern, Global Climate

With world attention on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. By focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches, we tackle urgent threats with practical solutions. We are one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of approximately 700 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world. We operate in 22 geographies with unique projects running across four programs. You will be part of a vibrant workplace that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents and contributions, where innovation and results are a way of life.


EDF envisions a world in which people from all backgrounds and experiences feel connected to the environmental challenges we face and are engaged in creating durable, equitable solutions. We seek talented candidates who share the Core Values that allow us to experiment courageously in our work while staying true to who we’ve been as an organization for 50 years. Are you a results oriented individual who is passionate about creating environmental solutions that make a lasting difference in the world? Do you respect diverse perspectives, talents and contributions? Do you value innovation and enjoy designing and using a wide range of problem-solving tools? Do you embrace environmental goals with a sense of optimism while taking into account real-world dynamics? If you have integrity and a strong desire to uphold a commitment to science, rigorous analysis, intellectual honesty and ethical action, then EDF is the place for you.

EDF offers internships and fellowships for students and recent graduates in a variety of programs and departments throughout the organization. The ultimate goal of our internship and fellowship program is to provide high-quality experiences (including relevant projects and opportunities for networking) that form the foundation for any individual who is serious about pursuing an environmental career.

Program Overview

Environmental Defense Fund's Global Climate program seeks a qualified and deeply motivated legal intern in Washington, D.C. office to assist with our work on international aviation and climate change.  The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction System for International Aviation (CORSIA), adopted in 2016 by the 191-nation Assembly of the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), caps the net emissions of international flights between participating countries at 2020 levels, beginning in 2021 through 2035. CORSIA requires airlines to offset emissions above 2020 levels by lowering their direct emissions, switching to alternative fuels, or buying emission reduction credits - provided that the fuels and credits meet CORSIA's emerging standards and sustainability criteria.

These developments in CORSIA coupled with the aviation industry's sensitivity to its social, business and reputational profile and the "Greta effect" are prompting airlines to announce commitments to address the carbon emissions of all their flights. Additionally, more than 80 countries have already signed up to participate, covering at least three-quarters of the forecast increase in international aviation emissions. Our goal is to ensure robust and durable implementation of CORSIA and to tighten its cap on emissions as part of meeting a long-term target of zero climate impact for aviation by 2050.

Overall Function

Under the supervision of EDF's International Counsel and aviation program leader, the intern will work in collaboration with economists and policy experts, as well as other colleagues across the organization to help execute EDF's international aviation strategy for advancing high-integrity implementation of CORSIA. The inern will assist the team with research, analysis, and preparation; and (if of sufficient quality) research publication and presentation.

Key Responsibilities

Depending on the interests of the intern and the needs of the program, the intern may:

  • Conduct legal research and writing at the interfaces among international climate change, aviation, and trade law, U.S. federal and state laws and regulations, and the laws and regulations of other countries, to assess how law can help ensure truth-in-advertising about claims of climate effectiveness in the aviation sector, including claims by airlines, carbon offset providers, and alternative fuel providers. This work will expose the intern to issues of conflict-of-interest, corporate responsibility, and securities law.
  • Analyze legal frameworks at national and subnational levels, particularly in Europe, for incentivizing alternative aviation fuels, and analyze how those frameworks support or undermine sustainability.
  • Assist with the development of federal legislative proposals to implement CORSIA in the United States.
  • Help formulate and implement a social media campaign to encourage airlines, travel influencers, corporate users and travel industry to demand only high-quality emission reductions, in accordance to CORSIA rules and standards, without "double-claiming" those under the Paris Agreement or under other legal instruments, including national law.  
  • Conduct legal and policy research, writing comments for internal and external use.
  • Draft public-facing documents such as fact sheets and blog posts about legal issues.


  • Demonstrated interest in environmental law, international law, public policy, or related fields.
  • Experience with the aviation sector, climate change, and/or social media a plus.
  • Experience living and/or working outside the United States, preferred.
  • Highly proficient in MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other software applications.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to interface well with all programs/departments in the organization and to represent the Global Climate team in a highly professional manner.
  • Excellent written, oral communication and research skills.
  • Must be well organized, motivated, and detail-oriented.
  • Ability to multi-task, prioritize and meet deadlines.
  • Ability to work in a team setting and have the ability to work independently when projects are due.
  • Demonstrate initiative and problem solving skills.


Washington, D.C.


10 weeks 


Full-time (35 hours/week)


This internship would involve either compensation for work paid at a rate competitive with leading non-profits or academic credit. Students are encouraged to seek academic credit or funding through their college/university and EDF will ensure that any and all paperwork needed to secure academic credit is completed.

Application Materials

Interested applicants should attach their cover letter and resume to the EDF application, together with their transcript and writing sample.

Environmental Defense Fund is an equal opportunity employer where an applicant's qualifications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis prohibited by law.