Among the many issues discussed last week at the first meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the importance of working together to combat global warming and climate change. Following their meeting at the White House on September 30, Premier Modi stated that climate change was a priority for both the U.S. and Indian governments. In a joint statement released by the leaders after their meetings,they announced agreement “a new and enhanced strategic partnership on energy security, clean energy, and climate change.” This agreement includes expanding the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) through “a new Energy Smart Cities Partnership to promote efficient urban energy infrastructure, a new program to scale-up renewable energy integration into India’s power grid, cooperation to support India’s efforts to upgrade its alternative energy institutes and to develop new innovation centers, an expansion of the Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE) program to unlock additional private sector investment and accelerate the deployment of cost-effective, super-efficient appliances, and the formation of a new Clean Energy Finance Forum to promote investment and trade in clean energy projects.“ They agreed to work together toward reducing production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent greenhouse gases, under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The leaders also expressed their commitment to concluding a successful new global agreement on climate change at the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention in Paris in December 2015.
In its 2014 Living Planet Report released on September 30, the World Wildlife Fund estimated that the total population of vertebrates on the planet has declined by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010. Two years ago WWF reported a 28 percent decline in the numbers of these animals had occurred between 1970 and 2008. The new numbers in the report, which is available online at http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/, are based in part on a recalculation of the previous data. The WWF report also estimates that current resource consumption by humans exceeds the carrying capacity of the planet by approximately 50 percent so that it would take one and one-half earth’s to make current human consumption patterns sustainable.
On October 1 I was a panelist on a “Supreme Court Review and Preview” program at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington. The other panelist was former EPA general counsel E. Donald Elliott, a private practitioner who teaches environmental law at Yale Law School. We reviewed the three major environmental decisions by the Supreme Court last term - EME Homer City (upholding EPA’s transport rule for controlling interstate air pollution), Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (upholding a major part of EPA’s program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions), and CTS v. Waldburger (holding that §309 of CERCLA’s preemption of state statutes of limitations does not preempt state statutes of repose). We then discussed the upcoming Supreme Court Term, which officially opened today. As I predicted during the program, the Court announced today that it will not hear a challenge to EPA’s national ambient air quality standard for ozone. The Court has not yet agreed to hear any major environmental cases during its OT 2014 Term. Don and I agreed that the most likely candidate for such a case is a challenge to EPA’s mercury and air toxics (MATS) regulation.
A tape of the program can be downloaded by ELI Associates at: http://www.eli.org/events/supreme-court-review-preview
On October 2 I gave a presentation on “China and Climate Change” as part of a new campus-wide "Be Informed" series on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus where our law school is located. I discussed China’s statement at the recent UN Climate Summit that it would agree to an eventual cap on its greenhouse gas emissions and the country’s efforts to expand its pilot cap-and-trade programs for carbon to a national scale.