Today top Vatican officials are holding a summit to promote a new campaign by Pope Francis urging world leaders to reach a new agreement to control emissions of greenhouse gases when they meet in Paris in December. The New York Times reports that Pope Francis is preparing to issue an encyclical on environmental degradation and the effect of climate change on the poor. The substance of the encyclical, which is likely to be issued this summer, should not come as a surprise in light of the fact that the Pope frequently has spoken about the importance of protecting the environment ever since his first homily in 2013. In a Twitter post this month the Pope stated: “We need to care for the earth so that it may continue, as God willed, to be a source of life for the entire human family.” The issuance of the encyclical will kick off a 12-week campaign by the Vatican to raise environmental awareness capped by the Pope’s address in September to a joint session of Congress. Climate change deniers and their organizations have expressed outrage at the Vatican’s plans. Coral Davenport & Laurie Goodstein, Pope Francis Steps up Campaign on Climate Change to Conservatives’ Alarm, N.Y. Times, April 27, 2015 (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/world/europe/pope-francis-steps-up-campaign-on-climate-change-to-conservatives-alarm.html).
Yesterday the law school closed at 2pm due to the unrest in Baltimore following the burial of Freddie Gray who died of a severed spine suffered while in police custody. Students who were taking 1:30pm exams were sent home, but our information technology office was able quickly to arrange for them to retake the exams online during the next 48 hours.
I am leaving for China on Thursday where I will be serving the first installment of my time in 2015 as a high level visiting foreign expert at Shanghai Jiaotong University KoGuan School of Law. I will be returning to the U.S. from China on May 7, but making additional trips there in July and August.
Today the final four blog posts by students in my Global Environmental Law seminar appear in the “Students” section of my parallel website at: http://www.globalenvironmentallaw.com. Brieanah Schwartz, who was a member of our greywater recycling project for use in communities off the grid in the Middle East, reports on water recycling in Australia and the Middle East. Jeff Wettengel addresses the question whether environmental regulation hinders economic growth. Christine Kim examines the effects on environmental enforcement of recent amendments to China’s basic environmental law. Robert Feehley discusses global efforts to protect peatlands.