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

Sunday, September 29, 2013

IPCC Draft Report, Lacey Act Lumber Raid, Russia Holds Greenpeace Activists, Initiative to Combat Elephant Poaching (by Bob Percival)

On September 27 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its draft Fifth Assessment report from Working Group I (WGI) that focuses on summarizing the latest scientific information on global warming and climate change.  The report was prepared by 259 co-authors from 29 countries.  They reviewed 2 million gigabytes of data from climate model simulations and cited 9,200 publications, three-quarters of which were published after the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment report was published in 2007.  The report concludes that “human influence on the climate system is clear” and that “[c]ontinued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system.”  The report estimates a likely range of warming between 1.5C to 4.5C (roughly 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit).  It concludes that “[l]imiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”  A complete copy of the draft report will be made available online on September 30.  A short “Summary for Policymakers” is available now at: http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5-SPM_Approved27Sep2013.pdf. Additional IPCC work group reports next year will focus on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (WGII) and Mitigation of Climate Change (WGIII) before a Synthesis Report is issued next fall.  In an effort to confuse the public, climate change deniers have formed a group they call the “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC),” which issued a report published by the Heartland Institute regurgitating the standard claims of the deniers. 

On September 26 federal agents raided the Virginia offices of Lumber Liquidators as part of an investigation of possible violations of the Lacey Act, which prohibits importation of wood products harvested in violation of U.S. or foreign laws.  Although the search warrants supporting the raid remain under seal, reportedly the company is suspected of importing wood products originating in eastern Siberia where their harvest is prohibited to protect the endangered Siberian tiger.  The Lacey Act originally was enacted in 1900 to prevent interstate transport of wildlife that had been illegally hunted.  It was expanded over time to prohibit the import, export, sale or purchase of wildlife taken in violation of state, federal, tribal, or foreign law.  In 2008 the Lacey Act was amended to expand its reach to timber and timber products.   In July 2012 Gibson Guitar Corporation settled federal charges that it had imported wood ebony from Madagascar even after learning that it had been harvested illegally.  Lumber Liquidators issued a statement stating that it “takes its sourcing and compliance very seriously” and employs “more than 60 professionals around the world” who monitor compliance at the 110 domestic and international mills from which its products come.  After news of the raid became public, Lumber Liquidator’s stock price opened 12.8% lower on September 27, but it rebounded to close down 5.2%.

A court in Murmansk, Russia has ordered thirty Greenpeace activists to be held in custody for two months while Russian authorities investigate potential piracy charges against them.  The thirty were on board the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise when it was boarded by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in international waters off the northern coast of Russia.  The boarding came after some of the activists attempted to climb onto the Russian oil rig Prirazlomnaya to protest oil drilling in the Arctic.  Marc Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, has protested the fact that Russian authorities did not contact him before boarding the vessel, which flies the flag of the Netherlands.  Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the activists “obviously are not pirates,”  but he has not acted to free the activists.

A new $80 million global effort to combat elephant poaching was launched on September 26, the final day of the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.  The new program will add 3,100 additional guards at 50 sites with a population of 285,000 elephants, approximately two-thirds of Africa’s elephant population.  It will add sniffer-dog teams to 10 international entry points.  Ten nations in Asia that are prominent consumers of ivory -- including China, Japan and Vietnam -- have pledged to launch efforts to reduce consumer demand for it.  Several African countries have pledged to increase penalties for elephant poaching.  It is estimated that 35,000 elephants were killed in 2012.  The carcasses of scores of elephants poisoned by poachers with cyanide have been discovered this month at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and several arrests have been made.

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