Collaborative Research Project on State Resporting of GHG Emissions

Dear Climate-L readers,

As you are aware, Annex I parties submit their GHG inventories annually to the Secretariat; these are then checked by expert review teams. Whatever arrangement replaces Kyoto, this foundational process of reporting and review is expected to remain in place essentially unchanged. But how well have states responded to it? What administrative and legal models have been used to implement it? How transparent is the process at all levels? What compromises does it contain? How accurate and complete are the data coming out of it? I am seeking to establish a network of academics and practitioners to investigate these and related questions. Please let me know if you are interested and if you will be in Copenhagen. I will organize a startup workshop there to discuss project design, potential research projects, sources of funding, and organization.


Alexander Zahar
Climate Law (editor-in-chief)
Griffith Law School

Weather Channel Videos on CC

Dear All

We would like to alert you to . This is a public facility in support of education and environmental awareness – hosting now 350 videos on water and drawing over 15,000 visitors monthly. This includes a special category on climate change – with more than 20 videos from different parts of the world. We also very much welcome everyone want to upload material or send it to use to convert and host. Warm wishes

Invitation to UNFCCC Side Events


International Law & Policy for a Low-Carbon Economy Programme

UNFCCC COP Climate Conference, Dec 07-18 Copenhagen 2009

The world is moving towards a more sustainable, low-carbon economy. New law & policy frameworks provide important tools. But how to get the rules right, domestically & internationally? How to secure sustainable climate financing, refine carbon trading rules & promote investment into REDD & clean tech development, while ensuring respect for the rights of the most vulnerable? What regulatory & governance systems & what policy innovations can help? What have we learned to date, what are the best legal practices & what are key priorities for a future global law & policy research agenda?

A Consortium of partners from world-class universities, international organisations & leading civil society actors is hosting a joint programme of special events on international law & policy for a low-carbon economy, at the UNFCCC COP 15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen. We warmly invite you to join us for fascinating debates, briefings and celebrations.

The International Law & Policy for a Low Carbon Economy Programme currently revolves around four principal events:

(1) Building the Low-Carbon Economy beyond Copenhagen: The Global Law & Policy Research Agenda / Seminar

In this International Law & Policy Research Seminar, developed & developing country negotiators & leading experts will identify key priorities for the emerging global law & policy research agenda on sustainable development of the low-carbon economy / 10am – 6pm Sat Dec 12, Clarion Hotel, Copenhagen

(2) Climate Finance: Legal and Regulatory Issues / Course

In this International Capacity-Building Course, registered government, civil society and private sectors delegates will access leading experts to build certified skills in legal & regulatory aspects of climate finance /10am – 4pm Sun Dec 13, University of Copenhagen*, Copenhagen

(3) Developing Sustainable & Equitable Legal Frameworks for the Global Low-Carbon Economy / Side-Event

In this proposed UNFCCC Climate Conference Side-Event, a series of participatory expert-led roundtables will brief COP delegates on the most recent legal frameworks & practices in carbon financing & carbon trading, forestry & clean tech development, & rights-based frameworks for climate change / Event to be confirmed, Bella Center, Copenhagen

(4) Climate Justice & Sustainability / Reception

In this Book Launch Reception & Celebration, global leaders & COP delegates will keynote on the low-carbon economy, sustainability & indigenous rights, & will toast brilliant new international publications such as Freestone & Streck, Legal Aspects of Carbon Trading: Kyoto, Copenhagen & Beyond (OUP 2009) with wine, cheese & chocolates / 6pm – 8pm Wed Dec 16, Bella Center, Copenhagen

This International Law & Policy Programme, chaired by the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), engages leading academic partners from the University of Sydney, New York University, the University of Toronto, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Cambridge, McGill University & the University of Oslo, also the University of Chile, the National Litoral University of Argentina, the University of Beijing & the University of Hong Kong. Key collaborators include the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO), the International Law Association, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Development Programme, ClimateFocus & the Assembly of First Nations, with grateful thanks to Sustainable Prosperity, also Quebec & other governments, for their support.

All COP 15 government and intergovernmental delegates, civil society representatives, business representatives, students and others welcome. For more information or to register your interest in participating, please email , with cc to and  . All event dates and venues are subject to confirmation by Nov 25, with details to be posted on

Fuller Fellowships of WWF, Including CC Opportunities

Kathryn Fuller Fellowships

Advancing Conservation through Science

WWF-US is pleased to announce the availability of Kathryn Fuller Fellowships for 2010. For nearly 50 years WWF has committed to delivering science-based conservation results while incorporating the latest research and innovations into our work. As part of its commitment to advancing conservation through science, WWF established Kathryn Fuller Fellowships to support PhD students and postdoctoral researchers working on issues of exceptional importance and relevance to conservation in <>WWF-US priority places.  This year, the Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Fund will support doctoral and postdoctoral research in the following three areas.
* <

>ecosystem services
* <>measuring and monitoring carbon stocks in forests
* <>climate change impacts on and adaptation of freshwater resources
Fuller Doctoral Fellows receive either $15,000 or $20,000 allocated over a period of up to 2 years to cover research expenses.

Fuller Postdoctoral Fellows receive $140,000 to cover a stipend and research expenses over a period of up to two years as well as $17,500 to cover indirect costs at the host institution over the two-year fellowship period.

Citizens of any nation may apply. Applicants for Fuller Doctoral Fellowships must be currently enrolled in a PhD program. WWF staff, directors, and their relatives as well as current Russell E. Train Fellows are ineligible to receive Fuller Fellowships.

Deadline for applications is January 31, 2010.

For more information on complete eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and how to apply, please visit the <>Fuller Fellowship webpage.

Or you may send your questions to .

WWF-US Priority Places

<>Amazon – portions of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname

<>Arctic – Arctic portions of Canada, Norway, Russia, Sweden, United States (Alaska)

<>Borneo and Sumatra – portions of Indonesia, Malaysia

<>Coastal East Africa – coastal and marine areas of Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania

<>Congo Basin – portions of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Republic of Congo

<>Coral Triangle – coastal and marine areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Timor Leste, Solomon Islands

<>Eastern Himalayas – Bhutan, Nepal

<>Galapagos – Ecuador (Galapagos Islands)

<>Mexico – State of Chiapas, Chihuahuan Desert , Gulf of California, Mesoamerican Reef of Mexico, Monarch Butterfly Reserve, State of Oaxaca


<>US Northern Great Plains – portions of the states of Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming

Participatory Learning in Climate Change Law Policy, Part 1

Over the next few weeks, I’ll post a few entries about using participatory learning activities in a Climate Change Law and Policy class.  I’ve just taught the class at the University of San Diego School of Law for the third time, and I have a few ideas to share.  I teach a three-hour seminar with no more than 20 students, which is a great length and size for doing such activities.

After an initial class focused on the science of climate change, we spend the second class on climate change mitigation.  For this, I use the Stabilization Wedge Game materials posted on the website of Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), Princeton University (  The game was developed by Princeton professors, Stephen Pacala and Robert H. Socolow, based on their article entitled “Stabilization wedges: Solving the climate problem for the next 50 years with current technologies,” Science, 305, pp. 968-972 (2004).  The articles presents 15 technological strategies to reduce emissions such as mass adoption of solar (i.e. an array of photovoltaic panels with an combined area about 12 times that of metropolitan London would provide one wedge) or widespread energy efficiency retrofits (i.e. replacing all the world’s incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights would provide 1/4 of one wedge.)  Some of the strategies are dated, particularly the ones involving hydrogen, but they still give a great sense of the types of technological change that are being called for.

I assign the Pacala and Socolow article as reading for the class, and I use the first part of class to talk through the mitigation technologies proposed in the article and answer any student questions.  Then I break the class into 4 or 5 groups, and they play the game, meaning that they select seven wedges representing technologies that could be implemented to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at 500 ppm, as suggested by the authors’ model.  They generally take about 30 to 45 minutes to play the game, and they spend about 15 more minutes presenting their solutions to each other.

Then we debrief.  There is a lot that can be discussed:

1)      Many scientists now think that we need to stabilize atmospheric concentrations at a level much lower than 500 ppm – 450, 400 or even lower (we are currently at about 380 ppm.)  To do this, you need more wedges. See Joe Romm’s Grist post,, for a discussion of how many wedges are needed to stabilize concentrations at acceptable levels given that we have continued to emit at ever higher rates in the past five years since the original analysis.  Here’s a preview: to stabilize at 450 ppm, we’ll need 14 wedges assuming we start next year.

2)      The game doesn’t provide much information about the costs of implementing the proposed strategies.  It gives a very rough estimate of cost for each approach symbolized by one, two or three $ signs.  Thinking seriously about costs – and the uncertainty of costs – makes decision-making more difficult.

3)      One of the premises of the article (and game) is that all the proposed technologies are available. Yet several have not been proven feasible at the scale that they would have to be implemented, such as strategies involving carbon capture and storage.  I have sometimes assigned an article that makes this argument, Hoffert, et al (2002) “Advanced Technology Paths to Global Climate Stability: Energy for a Greenhouse Planet.” Science,  298: 981-987.  Hoffert et al. argue that while a strategy may be technically available, it may require a large amount of government or private investment to make it available at the scale envisioned by Pacala and Socolow.

4)      The model does little to help understand the political challenges of various strategies.  Energy efficiency and conservation approaches are popular with students, but they tend to be difficult politically because they involve lifestyle choices.  And then there’s the wedge for nuclear power…  More generally, the model considers the needed changes in the world as a whole, without consideration of the political and social differences (and inequities) regionally, nationally, and subnationally.

Despite its limitations, the game is a useful interactive vehicle for getting law and policy students to understand something about the various emissions reduction technologies.  And the really great thing about the game is that it makes the problem of reducing emissions seem tractable while at the same time communicating what a huge challenge it will be.

Climate Change Media Partnership’s Roster of Experts

FYI. Members of the blog may wish to join this list and/or engage these experts in your classes, e.g. as guest lecturers via the Web. wil

Dear all

I am writing to invite you to join the Climate Change Media Partnership’s Roster of Experts.

This new website is a directory for journalists to use to find sources for their stories.

Once we have a good number of experts registered, we will tell journalists about this resource. To join the Roster, visit –

You need to register with the site and wait for your membership to be approved. Once this is done you can either just leave your contact details on the site, or be more active (posting blogs, etc) if you prefer.

The Climate Change Media Partnership was set up by Panos, Internews and the International Institute for Environment and Development to boost reporting of climate change around the world.

Best wishes


Mike Shanahan

Press officer

International Institute for Environment and Development

3 Endsleigh Street

London WC1H 0DD

Tel: 44 (0) 207 388 2117

Fax: 44 (0) 207 388 2826


New Study on Potential Role of Household Actions in Reducing GHG Emissions in the U.S.

I’m often asked if there’s a substantial role for individual actions to reduce GHG emissions. There’s an excellent new piece in the the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Dietz, et al., Household Actions Can Provide a Behavioral Wedge to Rapidly Reduce U.S. Carbon Emissions, 106(44) PNAS 18452-18456 (2009) (open access) that quantifies the potential role of household actions in reducing emissions in the United States.  Among the findings of the report:

  1. Direct energy use by households in the United States accounts for approximately 38% of overall U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, or 626 million metric tons of carbon. Put in perspective, this constitutes approximately 8% of global emissions, more than than other country other than China;
  2. The U.S. could reasonably achieve emissions reductions of 20% in the household sector within 10 years if the most effective non-regulatory interventions were utilized, amounting to 123 MtC/yr., or 7.4% of total national emissions, an amount larger than the total emissions of France;
  3. The most effective interventions to induce behavioral change includes the combination of several policy tools (including information, persuasive appeals and incentives), use of strong social marketing, including mass media appeals and community-based approaches; and efforts to address multiple targets, e.g. individuals, communities and businesses.
    1. The most effective package of interventions varies with the category of action targeted
  4. Similar percentage reductions could likely be achieved in Canada and Australia given carbon profiles roughly comparable to the U.S.;
  5. There is currently insufficient information on the costs and institutional requirements to effectuate large-scale behavioral change initiatives.

This piece could be effectively used in conjunction with Pacala and Socolow’s piece on “stabilization” wedges (Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Cliamte Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies, 305 Science 968-972 (2004)). The PNAS article calculates that the potential reduction in household emissions from non-regulatory mechanisms could result in approximately 3 “wedges”, or 44% of the U.S. contribution at year 10.  I think the study also reminds us that there are many effective short-term oriented interventions that can help us buy some time as we work to structurally de-carbonize the world’s economies.

Improved Assessment of Climate Forcings

While the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the IPCC remains the talisman for measuring radiative forcing, a new study in the journal Science (Shindell, et al., Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions, 326 Science 716-18 (2009) (subscription required) provides convincing evidence that methane emissions are more important than previously assessed. The researchers calculated radiative forcing of GHGs regulated under Kyoto in a coupled composition climate model that also incorporated the impacts of aerosols ( atmospheric particles such as dust, sea salt, sulfates and black carbon) and tropospheric ozone precursor emissions. The study concluded that when the neglected interactions between oxidants and aerosols is incorporated into an analysis of radiative forcing, methane’s GWP rises from 25 to 33, and likely would be further increased by including ecosystem responses.

This could be an interesting reading for students in conjunction with other recent analyses discussed on this cite that discuss the potential value of more aggressively restricting short-term pollutants, such as black carbon and volatile organic compound as an intermediate strategy to address climate change. Of course, in the case of aerosols, many forms of which exert a powerful cooling effect, this might argue in favor of slowing down efforts to reduce such emissions. At the same time, there are clear health benefits in removing aerosols such as sulfates, so this could lead to an interesting discussion about how we weigh the trade offs in policy making fora. As is almost always the case in the field of climate change, there is likely no free lunch!

Guest Blogger, Ken Alex, on U.S. Climate Change Litigation, Part 3

Below is the final entry in a three-part series of guest blogs by Ken Alex, Senior Assistant Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Environment Section of the California Department of Justice, focusing on climate change litigation in the United States.


The Fifth Circuit issued its opinion in Comer v. Murphy, and the Second Circuit ruled in Connecticut v. AEP that plaintiffs in those cases may proceed with public nuisance actions under federal common law based on the allegation that defendants’ greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming and harm plaintiffs.

So, now what?

The rulings have implications in at least four directions.  First, and most obviously defendants in both cases will almost certainly exercise their appeal rights, seeking rehearing and, potentially, cert. to the Supreme Court.  If those avenues prove fruitless, the cases will return to the district court, likely moving into the discovery phase.  It will be a number of months before either case moves to the trial stage, at which point plaintiffs will present evidence that human-generated greenhouse gases are causing global warming, that global warming is, right now, impacting plaintiffs, and that defendants’ emissions of those gases significantly contribute to the problem.  For example, in California, global warming is eroding coastline through sea level rise and repeated extreme storm events and reduced average annual snowpack in the Sierras. The Comer plaintiffs have the additional burden of establishing that defendants’ emissions contributed to a particular, discrete weather event, increasing the strength and destructive force of Hurricane Katrina.

No one suggests that the cases will be easy, but, speaking for California in the AEP case, we certainly look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence connecting human activity to global warming and its impacts on the State.  Having said that, we recognize that Legislative action would be a better outcome for everyone.

The second implication of the rulings is an increased likelihood of additional cases targeting large-scale greenhouse gas emitters.  These cases are complex, time-consuming, and present some novel issues.  As a result, I do not expect a flood of new cases, but as the impacts of global warming continue to become clearer and greater, if Congress continues its inaction, additional litigation is virtually certain.

Third, there is reason to believe that recognition of a judicial forum for redress of harm caused by global warming may increase the chances of federal legislation because potential defendants who, in the past, have opposed legislation now see benefits.  The availability of a judicial forum increases uncertainty for large greenhouse gas emitters.  In recent weeks, we have seen a growing willingness of companies to support federal legislation.  Comprehensive federal legislation addressing global warming likely would “displace” federal common law, thereby precluding or limiting public nuisance actions and providing a level of certainty sought by companies.

Finally, in the absence of federal legislation, the public nuisance cases increase the chances that EPA will act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions further under the Clean Air Act.  After Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), EPA clearly has authority to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act, and the Obama Administration has acted to do so with respect to mobile sources.  The mobile source regulations along with the EPA waiver allowing California to proceed with its own mobile source regulations enabled California to dismiss its public nuisance case against the six largest automakers.  EPA is now evaluating regulations for stationary sources, and if the regulations are sufficiently comprehensive, such regulations could limit or foreclose further federal common law court actions.

The interaction of activities at the three branches of government – public nuisance litigation, legislative proposals, and EPA regulatory process – underscore the propriety of the circuit court rulings recognizing the right to litigate under the federal common law.  In the face of significant harm from global warming, we should expect – insist – that all aspects of government be engaged in finding solutions.

Ken Alex