I taught a class yesterday which started with a video of the impassioned speech of the Bolivian climate negotiator Angelica Navarro at Copenhagen in an address to delegates from developing nations, outlining her demand for developing countries to repay their climate debt for breach of Kyoto. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_P4C7VNOGA
(This is worth watching just for her idea about capacity building for the North.) Then we analyzed the legal basis for the claims under international treaties (US did ratify the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change even though we repudiated Kyoto), and other sources of international law (a handy resource for this is Roda Verheyen’s very thorough Climate Change Damage and International Law: Prevention Duties and State Responsibility (2005)). We concluded that the United States may, indeed, have a potentially immense and increasing liability (not only moral but
legal) to developing countries if we do not reduce emissions drastically (below Kyoto levels) and soon. The later we wait the greater the potential liability. Of course there is no real enforcement in the international arena other than embargoes, nuclear exchanges, wrist-slap from ICJ, etc., but perhaps a realistic economic liability argument might persuade policymakers where other avenues have failed.
If anyone would like my Powerpoints I’d be happy to share them.
I’d also like to talk with others about creating and pushing a positive vision and serious draft legislation in aid of bringing about America’s carbon-neutral future.
Lin Harmon, J.D.
Associate Director, Environmental & Natural Resources Law Program Director, International LL.M. & Visitor Programs Lewis & Clark Law School
10015 SW Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219