On June 1 top officials from six major multinational oil companies that have headquarters in Europe endorsed the adoption of a carbon tax to combat global warming and climate change. The companies and the countries in which they have their headquarters are: BG Group plc (UK), BP plc (UK), Eni S.p.A. (Italy), Royal Dutch Shell plc (Netherlands), Statoil (Norway) and Total S.A. (France). In a joint letter released at an international gas conference, the executives touted the role natural gas can play in reducing carbon emissions, while arguing that a carbon tax would help level the playing field. The officials argued that any new global climate agreement adopted at a conference in December in Paris should promote national carbon taxes. “We owe it to future generations to seek realistic, workable solutions to the challenge of providing more energy while tackling climate change. We urge governments to create the incentives that will encourage all contributors to a more sustainable future.”
Wildlife groups are hailing a promise by a Chinese official to phase out trading of ivory in China. Zhao Shucong, minister in charge of the State Forestry Administration, announced that China would “strictly control the ivory trade and processing, until eventually halting commercial processing and the sale of ivory and its products.” Because China is one of the largest sources of demand for ivory, a ban on the ivory trade would greatly reduce incentives for elephant poaching. The African elephant population has fallen from more than one million in 1989 to less than 500,000 in 2014. It is estimated that 20,000 elephants were killed for the ivory in their tusks in both 2013 and 2014. It is unclear how fast China will act to shut down its ivory trade.
At its annual meeting on Mary 27, ExxonMobil chief executive officer Rex Tillerson dismissed concerns about climate change, claiming that technology can counter its effects. He defended the company’s failure to invest in renewable energy projects by stating “we choose not to lose money on purpose.” However, the company apparently is concerned about Pope Francis’s promotion of of a new global climate agreement and his upcoming encyclical on the environment. It was revealed that ExxonMobil sent a representative to the Vatican to lobby it on climate change.
An updated profile of environmental law in Turkey has now been posted in the “Country Profiles” section of my parallel website at www.globalenvironmentallaw.com. The profile was prepared by Turkish environmental law professor Süheyla Suzan Alıca. I am deeply grateful to her for her work updating the profile.
At the end of last month EPA issued a final rule clarifying its interpretation of the meaning of “waters of the United States,” the jurisdictional trigger for federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. The rule is a response to the Supreme Court’s sharply divided (4-1-4) ruling in Rapanos v. U.S. in 2006. The rule is based in large part on a report released in September 2013 by EPA’s Science Advisory Board (“Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence”). The report, which was based on review of more than 1,000 scientific studies, is available online at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=238345. EPA proposed the rule in April 2014. A pre-publication copy of the final rule is available online at: http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/rule_preamble_web_version.pdf. EPA’s press release describing the final rule is available online at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/62295CDDD6C6B45685257E52004FAC97
On Friday I will return to China for a trip that will take me to the far reaches of Xinjiang Province in China’s far west. Two days after arriving in Beijing on June 13, I will fly to Urumqi, the provincial capital. After touring northern Xinjiang and visiting Asia’s largest wind farm, on June 18 I will return to Beijing. On June 19 I will fly to Shanghai where I will be until June 26. It is unlikely I will be able to post to this blog from China, but posts will appear on my parallel blog at www.globalenvironmentallaw.com