International Environmental Law

Human Fingerprints on Australia’s Record Heatwave

Australia — or at least Australia’s current government — downplays the danger of climate change.   But, as a famous physicist once said, “reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” Last summer in Australia (corresponding to the winter months up here) broke many, many records.  it was the hottest summer on record, …

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Two Voices from the UN Climate Summit Today

Flags of the Union for the Mediterranean

A President and a poet on our climate future

If you want a sense of the tone of today’s UN climate summit in NY, check out the remarks by President Obama (pasted below in full) and this remarkable poem, composed and read to the General Assembly today by Kathy Jenil Kajiner of the Marshall Islands.  Ms. Kajiner was selected as a key speaker from …

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How Responsible Are Americans for China’s Pollution Problem?

An online conversation from several perspectives

Yesterday, I participated in an online conversation at Chinafile.com on the question of “How Responsible Are Americans For China’s Pollution Problem?”  I post the lead comment by David Vance Wagner of the International Council on Clean Transportation along with my response.  Elizabeth Economy from the Council on Foreign Relations and Isabel Hilton of Chinadialogue.net (among …

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Newsflash: Not All Climate Stories are Dismal, Scientists Actually Try to Discover the Truth

Islands and Huge Icebergs at the Mouth of Otto Fiord, 1994 (Arctic)

Methane Leaks Not Caused by Human-induced Climate Change,

NPR aired a story this week about what scientists thought, in 2008,  were ominous signs of a warming ocean.  Churning bubbles of methane — a very potent greenhouse gas — were pouring out of the ocean floor in Arctic Norway.  Scientists theorized that as the globe and the oceans warmed, the methane trapped in the …

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Carbon Responsibility — Producers versus Consumers

Carbon emitters, not their customers, bear the primary responsibility for combatting climate change.

Has the U.S. “exported” its carbon emissions to China by relying on China to manufacture so many of our goods?  There seems to be growing support for the idea that carbon emissions should be tied to consumption of goods rather than their manufacture, as the NY Times reported recently.  There is a grain of truth …

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Scholarship Trends in International Environmental Law

What do the numbers show about the trajectory of scholarship in international environmental law?

It can be difficult to identify patterns  in legal scholarship.  One way of doing that is to check on the frequency of key words, using Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis to track the numbers.  There are some interesting patterns in scholarship on international environmental law: The field came into its own in the decade from 1987 and …

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Going for Broke at the Climate Casino

The new Nordhaus book is good as far as it goes. But its analysis is muddled in crucial respects.

I finally had a chance to read Nordhaus’s new book, The Climate Casino, on a long flight.  There are some goods lessons in the book. The book makes the case for serious mitigation, even rhough Nordhaus takes a fairly optimistic view about adaptation. Nordhaus also tells us that “it would be relatively inexpensive to slow …

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Skinning Cobras and Climbing Trees in Belgium

Trying to save energy in Europe and around the Mediterranean

Brussels is at least two cities in one: a modern European municipality rich in history and containing some spectacular gilded palaces, and a capital city. It is the seat of government for Belgium – a flag flies over the palace when the king is nearby – and the capital for the European Union. The governing …

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COPs: The Erratic Evolution of Global Climate Policy

The latest Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw didn’t make headlines — more like footnotes.  Two things have become clear.  First, the formal UN negotiations are only part of the transnational development of climate policy.  And second, the UN negotiations are moving slowly and fitfully, but they are making progress.  Neither of these things …

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