International Environmental Law

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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Europe Mulls its First Climate Law

European Union flag

What would it do in terms of emissions targets and likely actual mitigation?

The European Union is, if one treats it as a country, the world’s third greatest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs). It has also been a leader in emissions reduction (“mitigation”), and its per capita emissions are merely 43% of the US’s. The EU government is presently considering a major new climate law that will set …

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We Can’t Count on Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Prevent Dangerous Climate Change

Last week’s climate summit yielded little in the way of action. Photo via UNFCCC.

Although reducing emissions remains essential, it is time to focus on additional responses

Last month, representatives of all countries gathered for their annual meeting to prevent climate change. Despite the motto “Time for Action,” the New York Times described it as “one of the worst outcomes in a quarter-century of climate negotiations.” Should we be surprised? Disappointed? Despairing? I believe that insufficient cuts in greenhouse gas emissions — …

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A Continent on Fire Ignores Climate Change

Conditions in Australia keep getting worse. The government offers platitudes.

Australia is remarkably exposed to climate change and remarkably unwilling to do much about it. Conditions keep getting worse. Yet climate policy in Australia has been treading water or backpedalling for years, as I discussed in an earlier post. Let’s start with the temperature.  The Guardian reports that in the year up to July 2019, …

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Netherlands’ Supreme Court Demands More Emissions Cuts

Urgenda logo

However, today’s ruling will likely have little direct impact

Today the Netherlands’ supreme court sided with an environmental organization and ruled that the Dutch government has an obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more aggressively. This is being widely praised by environmentalists and others concerned about climate change.  However, this historic ruling will likely have little impact on actual emissions, at least directly. At …

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Post-Madrid, China And California Have An Opportunity To Lead

As international climate action falters, the two climate leaders can fill the void

Note: this post is co-authored with Fan Dai, director of the University of California’s California-China Climate Institute. With the high-profile failure of last week’s UN climate conference in Madrid, the focus of international action on climate change will need to shift to political leaders of key global economies. We attended the conference in Madrid on …

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Guest Blogger Divya Rao: Confronting Reality: A Lack of Accountability at COP25

Action at Madrid COP25

The Support of Toyota and Other Manufacturers for the Trump Administration’s Policy Rollbacks Shows the Need to Confront Corporate Decisionmaking on Energy and Climate

As Cara Horowitz and Idalmis Vaquero discussed in their blog posts, the true highlight of COP 25 has been the numerous youth and indigenous interventions, actions, and disruptions. After spending four days at the COP, I came away from the events surprised by the level of corporate visibility and greenwashing in the side events, but …

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