Land Use

Earth System Interventions for Sustainability

Brand in 2020, via Cmichel67 at Wikimedia.

We actively shape major Earth systems, with increasingly powerful technologies. We should face up to it.

Stewart Brand–a contender for the most interesting living person in the world–famously opened the Whole Earth Catalogue in 1969, “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” Importantly (and often misunderstood), he meant not that we are gods, but instead that technologies have given humanity powers that had previously been exclusive …

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The Illusions of Takings Law

Nothing is as it seems, when the issue is whether a regulation is a “taking” of property.

For the last century, the Supreme Court has tried to operationalize the idea that a government regulation can be so burdensome that it amounts to a seizure of property. In the process, it has created a house of mirrors, a maze in which nothing is as it seems. Rules that appear crisp and clear turn …

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Nature As A Carbon Sequestration Solution

New CLEE/Emmett Institute report analyzes policy solutions to accelerate investment

New UC Berkeley/UCLA Law report discusses policy solutions to accelerate investment in nature-based climate solutions in California. Register for a free webinar on Wednesday, June 16 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM Pacific Time with an expert panel to learn about the top findings. This post is co-authored by Katie Segal and Ted Lamm. Some …

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American Soil

Soil is an important carbon sink. It’s literally going down the drain, eroding away.

Today is Earth Day. Let’s talk about something earthy: the dirt under our feet. When I was a kid growing up in central Illinois, the topsoil was black and went down about a foot.  When I was a little older and tried gardening, I was amazed at the fertility of the soil.  When I’ve gone …

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Offering “Carrots” to Protect the Amazon

Brazil flag

Brazil asks for a billion dollars to slow deforestation. Would this be cooperation or extortion?

In March, US President Joe Biden invited the leaders of 40 countries to a virtual climate change summit, which takes place today and tomorrow. During the lead-up to this, many countries announced commitments of varying specificity and firmness to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (I hope to write soon on the European Union.) Brazil’s position is …

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Deforestation and the Climate Crisis in a Time of Pandemic

Forest fire via NASA Earth Observatory

Despite the pandemic-induced global economic contraction, deforestation increased last year, with significant increases in the destruction of primary tropical forests.

  Earlier this week, the World Resources Institute released its first assessment of global forest loss for 2020, offering a chance to take stock of what happened to the world’s forests during the pandemic.  The news is not good. Despite a shrinking global economy, deforestation increased around the world in 2020. In temperate regions, some …

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How Cities Can Use California’s Housing Element to Get New Housing Built

New changes in state law allow local governments to commit to long-term production of housing

Over the next two years, cities across the state of California will undertake a state-mandated process to update the “housing element” of their general plans for land use. Cities must demonstrate that they have—or will provide—adequate zoned capacity to accommodate their share of “regional housing need,” a figure which is determined by the state Department …

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The California Supreme Court’s Most Important Environmental Law Decisions of 2020

It Was a Relatively Quiet Year for Environmental Law in the California Supreme Court

[This is the third and final installment in a series of posts highlighting the most significant environmental law decisions of 2020.  Earlier this week, I profiled the key 2020 environmental rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  This post concludes the series with an examination of …

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New Report: Deploying Engineered Carbon Removal In California

Law & policy options to boost demonstration projects + free webinar on January 27th

Berkeley/UCLA Law report discusses policy solutions to boost engineered carbon removal technologies. Register for a free webinar on Wednesday, January 27th at 10am with an expert panel to hear about the top findings. California has enacted ambitious climate goals, including a statewide carbon neutrality target by 2045. While much of the required greenhouse gas reductions …

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President Biden & Climate Change: What’s Achievable?

Divided federal government might still allow possibility for meaningful action

With a victory in the presidential election, Joe Biden now faces a U.S. Senate that still hangs in the balance. But even with a Democratic runoff sweep in Georgia next month, it will be very divided. So what will be possible for a President Biden and his administration to achieve on climate change? Agency action, …

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