New Webcast on State of Carbon Markets

Earthscan, the UK publisher of so many excellent environmental books that would probably never see the light of day otherwise, has launched a series of webcasts on important environmental issues, with Earthscan authors serving as the presenters. The first of these, Carbon Markets and Climate Change Mitigation, is now available. The webcast includes presentations by some real inside players in both regulatory and voluntary carbon markets and could really help to bring this concept alive for students.

New book on role of renewable energy in addressing CC

This posting is a book recommendation by Itzhak Kornfeld, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem:

Going after the big sources as EPA seeks to do, per its new proposed rule is obsurd.  However more absurd is the fact that senators are parsing out quasi-legal options, most of which are long-term, e.g., Lindsay Graham and John McCain are pushing for nuclear power as a cure to GHGs.  As is well known building a nuclear plant, even at lightening speed, will most likely take 8-10 years, given all the necessary work to design and build a reactor.  Meanwhile, the European Union is light years ahead of the U.S.
A book published in August 2009, details alternative/renewable energy sources that appear ready to go.  So why not use them and get on with curing the problem rather than hunting for pink elephants?  Beats me!  The book by Clarisse Fräss-Ehrfeld (ed.), is titled, Renewable Energy Sources: a Chance to Combat Climate Change (August 2009) Kluwer Law International, Hardcover , 640 pp., ($172.00); ISBN 13: 9789041128706. 
I have nothing to do with the book other than reading it! 
Fräss-Ehrfeld notes that the costs of failing to turn around climate change are becoming unthinkable. The stumbling block appears to be “the economy”.  The author observes that in fact the world economy is not  the issue. She observes that “we know now that if developed countries agree to cut their collective emissions by 30% by 2020, annual economic growth would be trimmed by less than 0.2% – a small price to pay to avoid the potential long-term costs of climate change.”  Indeed Fräss-Ehrfeld posits that “it is easy to appreciate the positive value of other benefits such as reduced air pollution, security of energy supply at predictable prices, and improved competitiveness through innovation.”
Her edited book goes to the heart of the debate.  How do we change our way of life?  The chapters in her book provide a detailed analysis for academics and the growing number of enterprises and investors committed to combating climate change with renewable energy technologies, of the opportunities and obstacles involved in developing a coherent and effective business strategy.  She addresses various options for Renewable Energy Sources (RES), both existing and under development.  And demonstrates how the 27 EU countries are quickly out-pacing the U.S. in tackling the enormous problems entailed by climate change,especially alternative/renewable energy.
Isn’t this the way to go?  Ween us off of all the big, smokey, black, nasty stuff?  Fund this type of strategy.  It’s similar to the Clean Water Act’s funding in 1972 for the construction of POTWs, and can be one part of an overall package.
 Anyway, the book’s table of contents follows.
Deloitte Services in the Renewable Energy Sector. I. Introduction. II. The Climate Change Issue: An Overview. 1. Definition of Climate Change. 2. International Conventions Concerning the Climate Change Issue. 3. Observed Effects and Impacts of Climate Change. 4. Actions Taken by the International Community. 5. Adaptation to and Mitigation of Climate Change. III. The Role of the European Union (EU). 1. Overview. 2. European Energy Policy. 3. The EU Renewable Energy Roadmap. 4. Second Strategic Energy Review: An EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan. 5. Communication of the Commission in View of Copenhagen 2009. IV. Renewable Energy: A Chance to Combat Climate Change. 1. Introduction. 2. Overview of Existing Energy Sources. 3. Costs, Advantages and Disadvantages of the Different (Renewable) Energy Sources. 4. Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and their Markets. 5. Renewable Energy Targets: Progress to Date. V. EU State Aid Policy and its Programs for Renewable Energy Investments. 1. European State Aid Policy: A Brief Overview. 2. EU Regulations in View of State Aid. 3. Community Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection. 4. Financing Mechanisms and Institutions in the European Union. 5. Current EU Funding Programs for Renewable Energy. VI. National Instruments and Policies to Promote Renewable Energy Sources (RES). 1. Introduction. 2. National Instruments to Promote Renewable Energy Sources (RES). 3. National Policies to Promote Renewable Energy Sources (RES). VII. Promotion Schemes and Feed-in Tariffs for Renewable Energy Sources within the EU-27: A Detailed Country Analysis. VIII. Conclusion and Outlook.
Good reading and learning!

Climate Change Law Course in a Box!

If you’re looking for some excellent online lectures on climate change law for your students, check out Law 2723: Climate Change Law & Policy, a course taught by Cymie Payne and Daniel Farber of UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 2008. The site contains all of the lectures (in audio and video formats) from the course, including guest lectures by a number of experts in the fields of science, economics, and of course, the law.

Documents for U.S. EPA’s Proposed Rulemaking for GHGs under the Clean Air Act

Here are links to some pertinent materials for the U.S. EPA’s announcement today of its proposed rule to tailor the major source applicability thresholds for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and title V programs of the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act) and to set a PSD significance level for GHG emissions:

Below is the press release from EPA today announcing the proposed new rule.

Cathy Milbourn

September 30, 2009

New EPA Rule Will Require Use of Best Technologies to Reduce Greenhouse Gases from Large Facilities

Small businesses and farms exempt

LOS ANGELES – U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will announce today in a keynote address at the California Governor’s Global Climate Summit that the Agency has taken a significant step to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Administrator will announce a proposal requiring large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of GHGs a year to obtain construction and operating permits covering these emissions. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.

The full text of the Administrators remarks will be posted at later this afternoon.

“By using the power and authority of the Clean Air Act, we can begin reducing emissions from the nation’s largest greenhouse gas emitting facilities without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the vast majority of our economy,” said EPA Administrator Jackson. “This is a common sense rule that is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources – those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions sources.  This rule allows us to do what the Clean Air Act does best – reduce emissions for better health, drive technology innovation for a better economy, and protect the environment for a better future – all without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the better part of our economy.”

These large facilities would include power plants, refineries, and factories. Small businesses such
as farms, restaurants and many other types of small facilities would not be included in these requirements.

If the proposed fuel-economy rule to regulate GHGs from cars and trucks is finalized and takes effect in the spring of 2010, Clean Air Act permits would automatically be required for stationary sources emitting GHGs. This proposed rule focuses these permitting programs on the largest facilities, responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. stationary source greenhouse gas emissions.

With the proposed emissions thresholds, EPA estimates that 400 new sources and modifications to existing sources would be subject to review each year for GHG emissions. In total, approximately 14,000 large sources would need to obtain operating permits that include GHG emissions. Most of these sources are already subject to clean air permitting requirements because they emit other pollutants.

The proposed tailoring rule addresses a group of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

In addition, EPA is requesting public comment on its previous interpretation of when certain pollutants, including CO2 and other GHGs, would be covered under the permitting provisions of the Clean Air Act. A different interpretation could mean that large facilities would need to obtain permits prior to the finalization of a rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA will accept comment on these proposals for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The proposed rules and more information:


Arkleton Trust Opportunity

The Old Golf House, Rectory Road, Streatley, Berks, RG8 9QA England
Tel:  +33 450472892   Fax:  + 44 0870 288 4783
Rural Community Adaptation to Climate Change Mapping Project – Asia
The Arkleton Trust in cooperation with the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP) offer one final Arkleton Trust Fellowship for 2009
Following the successful appointment of four fellowships to map community initiatives in adaptation to climate change across Europe and the north, Australasia, Africa and the Americas we are now seeking applications for coverage of the Asian countries.  The fellowship is for one year and is worth £5,000.  It is open to researchers from organisations working in this field or PhD researchers with faculty support.  Preference will be given to researchers who live and work in an Asian country.
Information of the project and application forms can be provided by contacting  . The closing date for applications is October 30, 2009.

New UNEP Science Compendium Study

UNEP’s newly released Climate Change Science Compendium 2009 is an excellent, if not sobering, potential student reading on current and potential impacts of climate change. The Compendium serves as an update of our current state of climate knowledge from the 4th Assessemnt Report in 2007. It reinforces a theme that I often emphasize to my students: as our scientific knowledge in the field of climate change deepens, our projections of impacts in most contexts become more serious, accentuating the need for an extremely precautionary approach. Here’s some of the key take-aways from the report:

  • We are now likely committed to a one meter rise in sea level by the next century and 5-10 times this rise in the following centuries;
  • We are now committed to an additional increase in temperatures of 1.6 degrees C, which combined with the 0.6-0.7C increase we’ve already witnessed over pre-industrial levels, we now appear inevitably committed to exceeding the 2C “guardrail” that virtually everyone agrees will visit extremely serious impacts on human institutions and natural systems;
  • In the context of Earth ice dynamics:
    • Glacial melting has accelerated in recent years, including massive losses in Europe, the Himalayas, and in a region we often don’t think about glacial melting, Africa;
    • Arctic ice melting has accelerated, suggesting a record low volume by the end of summer 2008, and a much hire incidence of first year ice, which is prone to melt more quickly than thicker multi-year ice. In 2009, ice older than two years accounted for less than 10% of ice cover;
    • More than 75% of marine-terminating outlet glaciers in the Greenland Ice Sheet are thinning, with potentially very serious implications for sea level rise given the mass of this ice body;
    • Portions of Antarctica are also losing ice, including an increased loss of ice by 60% in the last decade. Observed cooling in the interior may be attributable to ozone layer diminution, which is likely to be reversed in upcoming decades, potentially bringing even warmer temperatures and more dynamic ice conditions
  • In terms of the world’s oceans:
    • The report reminds us that a large portion of warming inertia in the system is attributable to the storage of heat in oceans, potentially delaying surface temperature response from 10-100 years;
    • Ocean acidification is proceeding apace, including water that can coorde aragonite (one form of calcium carbonate) now along the California coastline, a phenomenon that may also occur in 2050, if not sooner in many high latitude regions;
  • In terms of the Earth’s ecosystems:
    • Amplification of natural variability intensities “introduces a new urgency” for understanding the biological consequences of climate extremes;
    • There is already substantial evidence of phenological changes in many parts of the world;
    • The southwestern United States is moving rapidly to a point where “drought becomes the region’s new climatology;”
  • The report may also be helpful for its suggestions of systems management. It includes an extensive (and pretty unique) discussion of adaptation strategies for natural systems, including controversial propositions, e.g. assisted colonization, and a good discussion of potential adaptation for agricultural systems;
  • The study does also briefly discuss some of the potential geo-engineering responses, as well as prospects for biochar; however, this section almost seeks like an afterthought.

Overall, this study should increase the urgency of the Parties to the UNFCCC and Kyoto as they near the finish line for COP15.

PBS Frontline Videos For Setting Context

When introducing climate change issues and politics in both domestic and international environmental law classes, I have found segments from two PBS Frontline episodes useful to set context.  Both videos are available online in convenient “chapters” to facilitate use of brief (6 to 12 minute) segments that can be worked into a lecture or discussion.  The episodes & links are:  Hot Politics (2007) ( and Heat (2008) (

New IIASA Analysis of Adequacy of Annex I Party Commitments

An interesting analysis has been just published by the Atmospheric Pollution and Economic Development Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria: Wagner & Amann, Analysis of the Proposals for GHG Reductions in 2020 Made by UNFCCC Annex I Countries by Mid-August 2009 (2009). This could be an excellent reading for students in the post-Kyoto section of a climate change course because it not only provides a contemporaneous summary of current pledges of Annex I countries, but also discusses the costs of reducing emissions and the continued threat that “hot air” credits from Russia and Ukraine pose to the viability of international efforts to address climate change.

Among the take-aways from the report:

  • A conservative interpretation of the 2020 pledges made by Annex I Parties to date implies a reduction of their collective emissions by a mere 5% below 1990 levels, comparable to the Kyoto Protocol targets; an optimistic projection (largely assuming no use of CDM, LULUCF etc.) pegs the reduction at 17%, but even this is well below the IPCC’s conclusion in 2007 that reductions of 25-40% need to be effectuated by 2020 if we hope to keep temperatures increases below the 2C “guardrail”;
  • 40% of the pledges by Annex I Parties could be settled through “hot air” credits from Russia and Ukraine; hot air amounts to a projected 4.3% of Annex I emissions by 2020 relative to 1990;
  • Even under the most optimistic interpretation of the pledges of Annex I Parties, the cost of compliance would only nick off 0.01-0.05% of GDP by 2020, compared to a projected 42% increase in GDP during that period. However, some countries would face much higher costs (e.g. 1.1% for New Zealand), while others would enjoy net revenue (Ukraine 2.9% of GDP);
  • Excluding hot air credits as a means to effectuate Annex I GHG emissions reductions could increase the reductions by Annex I Parties t0 24%;
  • Reducing GHG emissions would yield substantial co-benefits at no cost in terms of other pollutants. Pledges to reduce GHG emissions by Annex I Parties may result in reductions of 10% in sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide and particular matter.

National Teach-In Conference Calls


From Professor Eban Goodstein at Bard College, New York:

Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Unchecked, global warming will reach a catastrophic 10 degrees F during the lifetime of today’s students. That is the grim conclusion of recent studies by MIT and the UKs Hadley Centre. Is it too late to “save the planet?”
This Wednesday at 3 PM Eastern, join Dr. Stephen Schneider of Stanford University for a half-hour update on the state of the science, and what it means for the future. Call in number is 1-712-432-3100, Conference Code: 253385.
Dr. Schneider will address these questions:
* What are the major changes in climate science in the last three years?
* Is long run climate sensitivity much higher than 3 degrees C?
* Are the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets more sensitive then we thought to even 3 degrees C?
* Are these bleak models generating a new consensus about how bad BAU is likely to be? If so, what does all this mean for policy?
Schneider’s talk is part of the The National Climate Seminar a bi-weekly, phone conversation featuring top climate scientists, political leaders, and policy analysts. Two weeks from now, on October 7th, Bill McKibben will join the call. Later in the term: the Honorable Edward Markey, Hunter Lovins, Andy Revkin and others. Click here for seminar details.
Following the half-an-hour seminar, stay on the line for a discussion of the International 350 Teach-In, happening throughout the fall. The key idea: before Copenhagen, get representatives from the office of your US Senators to campus, to talk about global warming solutions. This is the year that the world decides. Join the call to learn more about how to engage your community in this critical debate.
Thanks for your ongoing work engaging students and citizens. And please, do register your own views with your your US Senators, every week.
Professor Eban Goodstein,
Director National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions

Connecticut v. AEP

The 2d Circuit’s decision in Connecticut v. American Electrical Power, reversing a district court decision that dismissed an acton by state attorneys general seeking damages associated with climate change under a theory of common law public nuisance, is available here.  There will undoubtedly be a number of good legal analyses of the case in the next few weeks. However, a good starting point is UCLA Law’s Jonathan Zasloff’s piece in Grist today, which indicates that while polluters usually seek to tie up regulations in interminable challenges, in the hope that a more sympathetic regime will come along, the decision in Connecticut v. AEP poses a real dilemma for them. The panel in Connecticut indicated that while EPA regulation of GHGs under the CAA might displace public law nuisance suits, at this point the Obama administration has only “proposed” such regulation, and only for mobile sources, and thus the panel held that there is no displacement.

Is it in the best interest of major GHG polluters to seek to prevent promulgation of regulations when the alternative is potentially huge and unpredictable exposure to common law actions? (though as Zasloff points out, it’s far from clear whether CAA regulation would displace nuisance suits) While Zasloff doesn’t extend his analysis beyond the interplay with EPA, one wonders if polluters might be more amenable now to passage of the American Clean Energy & Security Act, which would “displace” regional accords for at least five years, most regulation of GHGs under the CAA, and common law actions. Given the vise that is tightening on polluters from the executive and judicial branches, they may perceive that their best bet is to work in the legislative arena to weaken the ACES bill to the point where it’s palatable, given that it can also serve as a shield against the far more frightening prospect of EPA regulation or a proliferation of common law actions. One must also not forget in this context that another shoe could drop should appellants prevail in other cases of this nature, including Comer v. Murphy Oil (5th Circuit), California v. General Motors Co. (9th Cir.) and Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil Corp, et al., (C.D. Cal.).