Greetings from smoggy New Delhi, where the local government has just reported that air pollution-caused respiratory diseases were the principal cause of premature deaths in the city in 2006, killing more than 9,000 people, an increase of more than 50 percent over 2005 (though that strikes me as perhaps a small figure for a city this large).
On December 8-9 the Indian Society of International Law (ISIL) held its Fifth Conference on International Environmental Law in New Delhi. The conference was held at the ISIL offices, which are directly across the street from the Supreme Court of India. The conference attracted nearly 300 participants from 20 countries. Tom Frank of NYU spoke at the opening ceremonies. I presented a paper on “The Evolution of Global Environmental Law” which argued that we should broaden our conception of international environmental law to embrace “global environmental law,” as emphasized by this website. The presentation seemed to be particularly well received because many of the participants have been struggling with questions raised by the impact of globalization on the development of international law. Professor Ved Nanda of the University of Denver School of Law gave an excellent presentation on principles of international environmental law.
Particularly impressive was that ISIL managed to publish 70 papers prepared for the conference in a two-volume, 1100-page book. The papers covered a wide variety of subjects including global environmental governance, regulatory initiatives to protect various aspects of the environment in different countries, environmental enforcement, the law of the sea, and the teaching of international law. Marlene Oliver, a commissioner from the Environment Court of New Zealand, reported on the work of her court, which sparked some discussion of whether India and other countries should adopt specialized courts to handle environmental issues.
After my talk I spoke with Professor L. Pushpa Kumar from the University of Delhi, who expressed interest in starting an environmental law clinic. I also spoke with K. Mahesh of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee who explained that corruption is greatly impairing the enforcement of pollution control laws in India and that the stricter the regulations become, the greater is the potential for corruption. Students from some Indian law schools asked me how they could become more involved in policy issues. I suggested that they form environmental law societies, as are common at U.S. law schools but which apparently are not common in India.
Next week Tseming and I will be in Beijing to make presentations to the Regional Forum of the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network on “Public Participation in Environmental Compliance and Enforcement in Asia.” Prior to arriving in New Delhi, I stopped in Cambodia for three days to visit the Angkor Wat area and the genocide museum and killing fields near Phnom Penh. My photos of the trip are now posted online at http://gallery.mac.com/rperci/100046. I flew to and from Cambodia via Singapore, where I was able to observe first hand the Singapore government’s Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system, the world’s first congestion charge system launched in 1998. All vehicles in Singapore, including motorbikes, have an electronic device that enables them to incur charges automatically when they are present on certain stretches of road at certain times of day. London modeled its more recently-launched congestion charge system on the Singapore program.