At its 62nd meeting in London, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted important new rules to reduce pollution from ships. The rules are amendments to Annex VI of MARPOL, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships that now has 150 member countries representing nearly all of the world’s shipping. Annex VI governs air pollution from ships. The new rules include an Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) that generally will require new ships above 400 gross tons to reduce their pollution by improving their energy efficiency. Ships built between 2015-2019 will have to be 10% more energy efficient, increasing to 20% for ships built from 2020 to 2024, and 30% for ships built after 2025. To mollify developing countries who objected to the new requirements, it was agreed that such countries can elect to delay compliance by ships flying their flags for between four and six years. All ships will be required to have an International Energy Efficiency Certificate and a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP). In an editorial the New York Times praised the regulations as “a good step forward,” while warning that the delayed compliance waiver for developing countries was “a huge loophole.” “Changing Course,” New York Times, July 23, 2011.
I am very pleased to announce that an exciting new Transnational Environmental Law (TEL) journal will go online at the end of this year with a print version being published in April 2012. This peer-reviewed journal is the brainchild of Professors Thijs Etty from VU University Amsterdam and Veerle Heyvaert from the London School of Economics, who will serve as editors-in-chief. TEL, which is being published by Cambridge University Press, represents dramatic confirmation of the growth of global environmental law along the lines of the model repeatedly described in this website. I have agreed to serve on the new journal’s editorial advisory board. The editors notes that “TEL strives for a new generation of environmental scholarship that will bridge geographical boundaries, scholarly styles and generations.” For more information about this journal visit http://journals.cambridge.org/tel
While sharp disputes continue in the U.S. Congress over raising the debt limit and future U.S. spending and tax policy, the battle over more energy efficient light bulbs has assumed the dimensions of a cultural war. On July 22, the U.S. House of Representatives actually voted on an amendment that would have prohibited the federal government from installing or buying compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs for congressional offices. Authored by Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.), the amendment was defeated by a vote of 283-130. Thompson, who actually opposed his party’s efforts to repeal the mandate for more energy efficient light bulbs, argued that incandescent bulbs give off better light, that CFLs are dangerous because they contain mercury, and that their production benefits non-U.S. manufacturers.
British Columbia’s carbon tax appears to be a big success. It has not damaged that province’s booming economy, where unemployment remains below, and economic growth above, the average for the rest of Canada. Nor has the tax, which began at C$10/ton of carbon emissions and will increase to C$30/ton next year, harmed the poor, since the proceeds are rebated back to individual taxpayers and companies in the form of lower taxes. Per captia fuel consumption has declined in British Columbia by 4.5%, significantly more than in the rest of the country. The carbon tax now has broad political support from voters and politicians in British Columbia, even as the province conducts a hard fought referendum on repeal of the harmonized sales tax (HST). “We Have a Winner,” The Economist, July 23, 2011, at 35.
An extraordinarily brutal heat wave gripped the U.S. this week. Years ago scientists were predicting that one consequence of global warming would be far more days when the temperature exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the Baltimore-/Washington area. The temperature in Baltimore on Friday hit a record 105 degrees . On Friday night Jane Barrett, director of Maryland’s Environmental Law Clinic, and I made our annual outing with our research assistants and clinical fellows to Camden Yards to watch the Orioles play the Los Angeles Angels. Temperature at game time was 100 degrees. To help the fans combat the heat, the Orioles provided free ice and had a “misting tent” set up. The temperature was still over 90 degrees when the game finished with a 6-1 victory for the Angels.