On Friday I returned to D.C. after spending the week in Whistler, British Columbia at the 9th Conference of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE). The conference was a remarkable gathering of nearly 200 environmental enforcement officials and NGO representatives from 46 countries. One could see visible evidence of the growing networks that are forming to enhance coordination of environmental enforcement throughout the world. One theme that was discussed was how reductions in government enforcement budgets have increased the importance of global cooperation among regulators and NGOs as agencies seek to employ new and creative means for improving environmental compliance. Criminal enforcement of environmental laws is still in its infancy in many countries, but the U.S. EPA recently hosted enforcement officials from 11 countries for a conference on the use of forensic evidence in the prosecution of environmental crimes. Other themes emphasized by presenters included the importance of reducing bureaucratic barriers to the transboundary sharing of information among enforcement officials and the need for environmental officials to work closely with Customs and border enforcement personnel. I served as the rapporteur for a session on the role of academic institutions in environmental compliance and enforcement networks. Photos from my trip to Vancouver and Whistler are available online at: http://gallery.me.com/rperci#100866.
As mentioned last week (see June 21 blog post), the Chilean government’s plan to build the $3.2billion HidroAysén hydropower project involving the construction of five dams in Patagonia has been the subject of considerable public protest in that environmentally-conscious country. A Chilean appeals court has now blocked the project on the ground that the government commission that approved it had not adequately considered its environmental impact.
On June 22 the International Energy Agency, a consortium of oil-consuming countries, announced that it would release two million barrels of oil per day during the month of July from reserves maintained by member countries. Half of this 60 million barrels of oil will come from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decried the move as an unwarranted interference with oil markets, an ironic comment from a cartel. The IEA argued that its move was justified by the disruption of oil exports from Libya due to the continuing conflict there.
The Chinese government reportedly suspended an expected $4 billion purchase of aircraft by Hong Kong Airlines from Airbus that was to be announced this week at the Paris Air Show. The reason? -- China’s displeasure with the EU’s insistence that beginning in January all airlines flying to EU countries take part in the EU’s carbon emissions trading scheme. Daniel Michaels, China Trips Up Major Airbus Deal, Wall St. J., June 25-26, 2011, at B3. On July 5 the European Court of Justice will hear a lawsuit by a group of U.S. airlines challenging the plan, which the EU had hoped would spur other countries to adopt similar plans.
Last week the fifth conference of the parties to the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent met in Geneva. India’s representatives surprised the conference by announcing that they had reconsidered their opposition to listing chrysotile asbestos as an Annex III hazardous substance. Although Canada’s representatives reportedly acknowledged the growing scientific consensus concerning the hazardous nature of chrysotile asbestos, they blocked the move to list it in Annex III. Only 450 people continue to be employed in mining asbestos in Canada, but there are plans to expands the Jeffrey Mine to meet increase demand for exports to India. Sarah Schmidt, Canada Concedes Science Against Asbestos Is Sound, Vancouver Sun, June 24, 2011, at B1. A study published in this month’s journal of the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology estimates that asbestos-related deaths will surge in Asia during the next two decades. Although Japan and South Korea have banned the use of asbestos, use of the deadly susbstance is growing in India and China. As a result, Asia now accounts for 64 perent of all asbestos use in the world. Giang Vinh Le, Ken Takahashi, Eun-Kee Park, Vanya Delgermaa, Chulho Oak, Ahmad Munir Qureshi, Syed Mohamed Aljunid, Asbestos Use and Asbestos-Related Diseases in Asia: Past, Present and Future. Respirology, June, 2011.