10th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium

10th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium
More than 250 environmental experts from 35 countries gather at the University of Maryland for the 10th Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law in July 2012

March 2013 Environmental Field Trip to Israel

March 2013 Environmental Field Trip to Israel
Maryland students vist Israel's first solar power plant in the Negev desert as part of a spring break field trip to study environmental issues in the Middle East

Workshop with All China Environment Federation

Workshop with All China Environment Federation
Participants in March 12 Workshop with All China Environment Federation in Beijing

Winners of Jordanian National Moot Court Competition

Winners of Jordanian National Moot Court Competition
Jordanian Justice Minister Aymen Odah presents trophy to Noura Saleh & Niveen Abdel Rahman from Al Al Bait University along with US AID Mission Director Jay Knott & ABA's Maha Shomali

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ecuador Recusal, Climate Negotiations, Renewable Energy Investments, EU Incandescent Bulb Ban & IUCN Academy

On Friday Juan Nuñez, the Ecuadoran judge presiding over the trial of the long-running lawsuit against Chevron for oil contamination of the Oriente region, recused himself from the case after Chevron released video that the company claimed showed the judge was committed to ruling against the oil company. In the video, which was posted on Chevron’s website, the judge reportedly refuses to reveal the verdict several times, but then responds “yes, sir” to a question Chevron claims was an inquiry as to whether Chevron will lose the lawsuit. There also reportedly is a discussion of how remediation funds Chevron would be ordered to pay will be spent and a suggestion that some could be used to pay off government officials. The video was covertly filmed by an Ecuadoran former contractor for Chevron who the oil company claims was acting entirely independently. While the judge claimed the video had been doctored and denied that he had prejudged the case, he was asked to recuse himself by Washington Pezantes, the attorney general of Ecuador. The quick recusal suggests that the Ecuadoran judiciary appreciates the importance of the case and the likely battle that would follow efforts to enforce any judgment against Chevron in the U.S. courts. Judge Nicolás Zambrano will now preside over the case, which is being heard in Lago Agrio, Ecuador.

Debate continued over what role China and India should play in the post-Kyoto climate treaty expected to be signed in Copenhagen in December. On Wednesday the government of India released a report projecting that India’s emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) could quadruple over the next 20 years. But India’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh emphasized that on a per capita basis India’s emissions will remain below the per capita emissions of developed countries. Five independent studies released by the government project that India’s emissions will rise from 1.4 billion tons in 2008 to between 4 billion and 7.3 billion tons in 2031. The country’s per capita emissions were forecast to rise to between 2.77 and nearly 5 tons per capita compared to a global average of 4.22 tons per capita in 2005. James Lamont, Amy Kazmin & Fiona Harvey, India’s Growth Set to Quadruple CO2 Emissions, FInancial Times, Sept. 2, 2009. The UK’s climate change minister Ed Miliband visited New Dehli last week to discuss the Copenhagen negotiations with Indian government officials. Last week Chinese economists released a study concluding that it would cost China $438 billion annually to reduce the country’s GHG emissions beginning in 2030. Kathrin Hille& Fiona Harvey, China’s High Price for Emissions Cuts, Financial Times, Sept. 2, 2009, at 4.

As pre-Copenhagen negotiations continue, efforts to promote the development of new, climate-friendly energy technologies expand. On Tuesday the U.S. government announced the award of $502 million in grants for a dozen wind and solar energy projects. More than half of the grant money went to Iberdrola SA, a Spanish wind power company, for five such projects. Spain became a global leader in solar power in 2008 through aggressive government subsides that have now been scaled back dramatically. As a result of the cutback in subsidies Spain’s installed solar capacity actually is projected to decline this year. On Friday Vice President Biden announced the first ever federal loan guarantee for a renewable energy project, a $535 million loan to Solyndra, Inc. for a solar panel factory to be built in Fremont, California, a town hit hard by the closing of an auto plant there earlier this year. Chinese automaker BYD announced last Monday that it would start selling its all-electric e6 sedan in the U.S. next year, a year ahead of schedule. American investor Warren Buffet , who owns a 10 percent stake in BYD, is said to be considering expansion of his investment in the company. Norway announced that it will shift the investment strategy of its $400 billion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s second largest, to encourage more investment in technologies to reduce GHG emissions in the developing world. The fund revealed that it has invested $1.2 billion in clean energy companies in India, which it described as just the start.

On Tuesday September 1 the European Union’s program to phase out use of incandescent light bulbs began when a ban on retailers buying or importing most such bulbs took effect. While stores can sell their remaining stocks of incandescent bulbs, when those stocks are exhausted consumers will have to buy more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs that generally use 80 percent less energy. A similar ban will go into effect in the U.S. in 2012 and opponents already are trying to stir up public opposition by arguing that fluorescent light is of poorer quality, the bulbs cost more and are more dangerous when broken.

Last Monday I submitted an abstract of the paper I am coauthoring with Zhang Jingjing for presentation at the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law annual colloquium in Wuhan, China in November. The paper will explore why environmental law has not been more successful in compensating victims of environmental harm despite several efforts to overcome the common law’s “causation conundrum.” Jingjing, who formerly was a top public interest environmental litigator for the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV) in Beijing, is now China country director for the Public Interest Law Institute (PILI). On Thursday morning I participated in a 90-minute conference call for members of the IUCN Academy’s governance committee. The other committee members were located in South Africa, Australia and Canada, but using Skype we were able to converse over the internet for free with only an occasional dropped connection.

3 comments:

Anna Kay said...

Those tapes are Chevron's desperate attempt to delay the ruling in this case and even though it is the third largest corporation in the US, Chevron did a lousy job. One, the translation is not always accurate. Second, when the judge answers the question if Chevron is guilty, his comments are off camera. Nowhere in those tapes does he discuss or accept the bribe. He did the right thing recusing himself from the case, making it possible for the case to continue uninterrupted.
For more info, see www.chevrontoxico.com

Panta Rei said...

About the EU light bulb ban you mention.. also as planned involving the USA

Unlike many people against all these bans,
I agree with the need to do something about emissions (for all they contain, whatever about CO2)

But banning light bulbs is not the way forward,
and I think people who are less in agreement with
the background arguments will just be turned off from cooperating in more important environmental measures.

Let's think about this:

Europeans, like Americans, choose to buy ordinary light bulbs around 9 times out of 10 (light industry data 2007-8)
Banning what people want gives the supposed savings - no point in banning an impopular product!

If new LED lights - or improved CFLs etc - are good,
people will buy them - no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (little point).
If they are not good, people will not buy them - no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (no point).
The arrival of the transistor didn’t mean that more energy using radio tubes were banned… they were bought less anyway.


A ban on light bulbs is extraordinary, in being on a product safe to use.
We are not talking about banning lead paint here
(and light bulbs don't give out CO2 gas - power stations do!)

Oddly the bulb that might normally be banned (or at least more warned about) is proposed as the replacement!

Simple, cheap safe is dumped in favour of complex, expensive and
mercury releasing.

Now,
politicians think one light is as good as another, so an efficient light must be better.
This is of course wrong - or no inefficient lights (or other products) would be sold
Bright broad spectrum light quality
along with small size availability, easy dimmability and use with sensors, quick response in the cold and, for that matter, heat that is not necessarily a waste in temperate climates, make up for inefficiency disadvantages.

Supposed savings don't actually hold up anyway, for many reasons:
(http://www.ceolas.net/#li13x onwards
about brightness, lifespan, power factor, lifecycle, heat effect of ordinary bulbs, and other referenced research)

Effect on Electricity Bills
If energy use does indeed fall with light bulb and other proposed efficiency bans,
electricity companies make less money,
and they’ll simply push up the electricity bills to compensate
(especially since power companies often have their own grids with little supply competition)
Energy regulators can hardly deny any such cost covering exercise...

Panta Rei said...

(continued)

Energy?
Saving advice is one thing, product bans another.
There is no shortage of energy.
People -not politicians – pay for energy use, and if there was an energy shortage, the price rise would lead to more demand for efficient products anyway – no need to legislate for it.


Emissions?
Does a light bulb give out any gases?
Power stations might not either:
Why should emission-free households be denied the use of lighting they obviously want to use?
Low emission households already dominate some regions, and will increase everywhere, since emissions will be reduced anyway through the planned use of coal/gas processing technology and/or energy substitution.

A direct way to deal with emissions (for all else they contain too, whatever about CO2):
http://www.ceolas.net/#cc10x

Even with a desire to act on consumption too, for a quick fix while low emission energy gets provided:

The Taxation alternative
As said, a ban on light bulbs is extraordinary, in being on a product safe to use.
We are not talking about banning lead paint here.

This is simply a ban to reduce the amount of electricity consumption.

Even for those who remain pro-ban, temporary taxation to reduce consumption would therefore make much more sense, also since governments can use the income to reduce emissions (home insulation schemes, renewable projects etc) more than any remaining product use causes such problems.

A few pounds/euros/dollars light bulb tax that reduces the current sales (EU like the USA 2 billion sales per annum, UK 250-300 million pa)
raises future billions, and would retain consumer choice.
It could also be revenue neutral, lowering any sales tax on efficient products.

When the tax is no longer needed
due to energy supply changes, it should as said be lifted.
http://www.ceolas.net/LightBulbTax.html

However, taxation is itself unjustified, it is simply preferable to bans for all concerned.

Of course an EU ban is under way, but supposedly with reviews along the line of the phase out process, according to the EU banning documentation.

Maybe, from what you say, debate in North America can be affected, as I think it should...