International Environmental Law

Planet Earth as Desert Island: “Lord of the Flies” or “Gilligan’s Island”?

Or in more technical terms, the Tragedy of the Commons? Or its inverse?

Lord of the Flies is a memorable novel about a group of English schoolboys who are marooned on a desert island.  They quickly descend into savagery and violence. The book can be seen as a parable of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes’s view that human life in a state of nature is short, nasty, and brutish. But …

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China’s Distinctive Approach to Emissions Trading

It’s getting harder for the U.S. to use Chinese inaction as an excuse.

China’s emissions trading program is slowly forward toward implementation.   It’s by no means a perfect program, but it should result in significant emissions reductions. The Chinese program has some features that make it less cost-effective. Nonetheless, researchers at RFF concluded that the climate benefits will be three times the cost of emission reductions. They didn’t …

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A New Report on Governing Climate Geoengineering

I suggest steps toward global governance of carbon dioxide removal and solar geoengineering

A new report on the governance of climate geoengineering — that is, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar geoengineering (or solar radiation modification, SRM) — has been released. International Governance Issues on Climate Engineering: Information for Policymakers was coordinated and issued by the International Risk Governance Center, edited by IRGC’s Marie-Valentine Florin, and commissioned by the …

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Deja Vu All Over Again

There’s a new GOP Platform, same as the old one.

It appears that the GOP won’t have a new platform this year. Instead, they’re going to stick with their 2016 platform. You could see that as steadfastness or a lack of new ideas. In the environmental arena, 2016 is still where the GOP is stuck today, celebrating fossil fuels and rejecting climate action. Here are …

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(Still More) Bad News on the Doorstep

New Reports Document Accelerating Wildlife Extinctions, Global Deforestation Trends

While public attention in recent weeks and months has understandably focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice shockwaves triggered by George Floyd’s tragic death, another disaster continues apace. This week the New York Times published two alarming stories documenting the accelerating decline of our global environment.  The first, entitled “Extinctions Are Accelerating, Threatening …

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Leaving Paris (from Rex Tillerson’s Diary)

Here’s how the deal was undone.

Three years ago today, Trump announced that he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Rex Tillerson, who was Trump’s Secretary of State about 10,000 tweets ago, was there, behind the scenes, when Trump was making the decision.  Here’s what he might have written in his diary:. April 1.  Talked with DT today.  He said he’d …

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International Liability for Harm: Epidemics and Pollution

What duties do countries have to avoid causing global harms?

There’s been talk lately of demanding compensation if a country’s negligence allowed a disease to spread globally. There is a long history of discussion regarding similar damage claims in international environmental law.  The same principles seem applicable to disease spread. In theory, damages should be available in both cases. The core principle of international liability …

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Resuscitating Obama’s Environmental Legacy

Trump has had a single-minded focus on eliminating any traces of Obama’s presidency. But it’s not too late to turn the tide.

We’ve now had nearly four years of Trump’s all-out war on environmental protection. Trump has single-mindedly tried  to wipe out every trace of Obama’s legacy.  It’s time to see what’s left of Obama’s achievements. And what could a new President do to revive his legacy? In a Legal Planet post a week before the last …

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Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary: A Reflection

Why Celebrating Environmental Values & Goals Is Now More Important Than Ever

Today marks the 50th anniversary of America’s first Earth Day.  Beginning on April 22, 1970, the United States and global community have rallied each year to celebrate environmental values and goals.  It seems especially important to commemorate and continue that tradition in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic. The first Earth Day was a …

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How Sustainable is the Electric Vehicle Battery Supply Chain?

New CLEE and NRGI “FAQ” released today addresses common misconceptions

Co-authored with Ted Lamm and Patrick Heller (advisor at the Natural Resource Governance Institute and a senior visiting fellow at CLEE) The global transition from fossil fuel-powered vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) will require the production of hundreds of millions of batteries. The need for such a massive deployment raises questions from the general public …

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