The 1990s were the heyday of international environmental lawmaking. The 1992 United Nations “Rio Conference” on Environment and Development catalyzed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. The decade also witnessed the launch of the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent as well as protocols […]
Climate Action from the World’s Largest Emitter
Governor Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit came to a close this past Friday in San Francisco. A large delegation of Chinese government officials, researchers, business leaders and civil society representatives were on hand for the proceedings. Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative on climate change, reaffirmed China’s commitment to action on climate change. While Xie had […]
New article in Nature Sustainability tracks global payments for ecosystems services
In the early 1990s, New York City began paying for land management in the Catskills watershed to ensure safe drinking water for the city, avoiding the cost of building an expensive water treatment plant. New York City provides just one example of a growing number of programs – called payments for ecosystem services (PES) – […]
The expected blow for solar companies, consumers, and clean energy & climate advocates will likely bring a U.S. solar slowdown and prompt industry changes
Following up on a campaign promise to crack down on free trade policies, the Trump Administration today announced that they will be imposing tariffs on foreign solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. The tariffs will start at 30 percent in the first year and then decline to 25 percent in year 2, 20 percent in year 3, […]
America’s Retreat from Global Climate Change Action Cedes Leadership to China (co-authored with Ann Carlson)
China loomed large in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He accused the country of stealing American jobs and manipulating its currency for trade advantage. He famously tweeted that global warming was a concept created by the Chinese to “make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” At its core, Trump’s argument was that China had grown strong at the United […]
The Long Road from Copenhagen to Paris
Six years ago in Copenhagen, China was seen as the spoiler. A widely read article claimed that China had “wrecked” the Copenhagen deal. One of China’s lead negotiators suggested that American envoy Todd Stern was “ignorant,” lacking in “common sense” or “extremely irresponsible.” What a difference a few years can make. On Saturday in Paris, […]
The Obama administration recently notified Congress of its intent to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) and released the text to the public. The TPP has proven extraordinarily contentious, splintering political party lines, with likely more Republicans supporting the agreement than Democrats, and dividing environmental groups, as well, with the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and NRDC opposed […]
In the run-up to the Paris talks, the major economies have all pledged carbon reductions.
With Saudia Arabia’s pledge last week to cut emission, all of the world’s major economies are now on board. In a nutshell, here is what they are promising. Except as noted, the target dates are all 2030. A number of countries have subsidiary promises in terms of percentage of renewable energy or of bigger cuts premised […]
Coal versus wind power; China’s air; poll results; Ted Cruz; arctic ice.
There’s been a lot of interesting environmental news recently, much of which seems to have gotten little notice. The topics range from U.S. wind power (growing) to U.S. coal power and Arctic sea ice (both shrinking), with a bit of Ted Cruz to spice things up. Here’s the round-up: Out with coal, in with wind. The […]
Can 200 million viewers (and counting) be wrong?
Last Saturday evening, my research assistant (a wonderful JD student raised and educated in China) sent me a message: “This is a link to a documentary directed by Chai Jing (柴静). It has raised public concern about air pollution.” In perhaps the understatement of the year, she added: “Many Chinese people have been watching it.” […]