Last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited India, a trip marked by blunt exchanges highlighting India’s refusal to accept binding limits on its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). India maintains that because its GHG emissions are among the lowest in the world on a per capita basis, it would be unfair to require it to limit its emissions, which have been growing rapidly. Secretary Clinton emphasized that the U.S. would never try to limit India’s economic growth, but that a new global regime of GHG controls must include the developing world. India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh argued that developed countries caused most of the climate change problem and he expressed strenuous opposition to talk of imposing carbon tariffs on countries that do not control their emissions. Some observers believe the government of Indian is taking a tough negotiating position in advance of December’s Copenhagen conference to gain greater financial assistance for reducing carbon emissions. Others believe that there is little prospect of getting India to agree to binding targets in Copenhagen.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a study of the impact on farmers of the House-passed climate legislation. It found that the legislation would reduce net farm income by less than 1% prior to 2018, by 3.5% between 2027 and 2033, and by 7.2% between 2042 and 2048. However, the report argued that the increased cost of farm operations from the legislation would likely be more than offset by opportunities for farmers and ranchers to receive payments for carbon offsets. The report, “A Preliminary Analysis of the Effects of HR 2454 on U.S. Agriculture,” is available at http://www.usda.gov/oce/newsroom/archives/releases/2009files/HR2454.pdf.
Last week officials from Chevron Corporation conceded that the company is likely to have an enormous judgment rendered against it by a court in Ecuador in a lawsuit involving pollution from oil drilling in the Oriente region of that country. The company vowed that it will not pay such a judgment and will fight it in the courts of both Ecuador and the U.S. for decades if necessary. While some shareholders have urged the company to settle, Chevron spokesperson Don Campbell told the Wall Street Journal that “We’re not going to be bullied into a settlement” because the company has done nothing wrong. Ben Casselman, Chevron Expects to Fight Ecuador Lawsuit in U.S., Wall St. Journal, July 20, 2009, at B3.
While complicity in human rights abuses is sometimes alleged in lawsuits against corporations, last week the Intel Corporation sought to embrace human rights arguments when it appealed a billion-euro fine levied against it for antitrust violations in the European Union. The company argued that because the fine was levied by the European Commission’s antitrust regulator, rather than a court, it was the product of a process so fundamentally unfair as to constitute a violation of the corporation’s human rights.
Last week the Pew Global Attitudes Project published the results of its latest survey of attitudes toward the United States by citizens of 25 other countries. The survey showed a sharp rise in favorable attitudes toward the United States among foreigners, which it attributed largely to the election of President Barack Obama. The increase in favorable attitudes toward the U.S. was most pronounced in Europe. The survey results are available online at: http://pewglobal.org/reports/pdf/264.pdf
Last Wednesday I hosted Alan Miller, the Global Environmental Facility and Climate Change Coordinator for the International FInance Corporation, to watch the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets at Nationals Park in D.C. Alan is a co-author of my Environmental Regulation casebook. He has been attending all the pre-Copenhagen conferences. On SUnday I went to Nationals Park with Dan Guttman, who spends most of the year teaching in China, but who is back in the U.S. for the summer to teach two courses for Johns Hopkins University’s graduate programs. We saw another rare Nats victory, this time over the San Diego Padres in 10 innings. Dan told me that this week’s solar eclipse was a great disappointment in Shanghai because it was too overcast to see the sun on Wednesday, the day of the eclipse.