Jan 28 2011

Twitter Link Round-Up: Wild Lands, Invasive Rats, and EPA’s Veto Power

Published by under News

Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

– NYT: @nytimesscience Proposed bill in the House would limit EPA’s veto power and restore the Spruce No. 1’s permit http://nyti.ms/hNNunA

– SA: @sciam A new study shows how climate change could destabilize already weak nations http://bit.ly/eW2Itn

– NYT: @nytimesgreen The Supreme Court declines to intervene in a case of federal vs. state water rights http://nyti.ms/f95cBN

– NYT: @nytimesgreen Henry Waxman (D-CA) is pressing for investigation on who is funding climate skeptic http://bit.ly/gTxNd7 Continue Reading »

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Dec 13 2010

A Deal on Climate Change in Cancun

Cancun, via wikimedia

The most recent climate change conference kept observers in suspense up until the last day.   Though a draft agreement had been written, debates still raged surrounding the details, specifically the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.  Yet in the last hours of the conference a modest agreement was finalized, over objections by Bolivia.  All but one of the 194 countries represented signed onto the document, which was based on the Copenhagen climate accord and formalized within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The provisions record commitments countries have made for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, sets up a “Green Climate Fund” for developing nations, and provides initiatives for reducing deforestation.  The biggest success was for the host country’s leader, Espinosa, who received several standing ovations and was credited with renewing faith in the process.  However, the decision on the Kyoto Protocol has been put off until next year’s conference.  The articles below give more news from the conference’s wrap-up.

NY Times: “Climate Talks End with Modest Deal on Emissions”

CANCÚN, Mexico — The United Nations climate change conference adopted a package of measures early Saturday aimed at tempering the effects of a warming planet, breathing new life into a process that many had declared moribund.

Although the steps taken here were fairly modest and do not mandate the broad changes that scientists say are needed to prevent dangerous climate change in coming decades, the result was a major step forward for a process that has stumbled badly in recent years.

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Dec 08 2010

News from the Cancun Climate Conference

Published by under Climate Change

The Earth, via Wikimedia

2010 is shaping up to be among the three hottest years on record and is providing a fitting end to the hottest decade on record.  Despite this, and in the tradition of less-than productive climate change conferences, the summit at Cancun has seen a lot of proposals but very little actual solutions on the issues facing the world related to climate change.  The international community continues to run into the same conflicts its had since the first summit on climate change.  One of the most significant of these is the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.  This historical agreement is set to expire soon and several nations, including Japan, have said that it shouldn’t be removed.  Nevertheless, a draft agreement was released on Saturday that would at least represent movement towards a solution if countries then backed it up with action at home.  Reflecting the debate still going on, the draft lists options for the final agreement that will be decided on later.  Details of this agreement and other news from the conference are in the articles listed below.

Mother Jones: “Forward Motion in Cancun?”

Observers are cautiously optimistic that countries could move forward on the draft text of a potential agreement at the Cancun summit in the next week. The draft, released on Saturday, includes a number of options for negotiators to consider in detail in the next five days, but there are still some big holes.

The 33-page draft for a new agreement—one that would include the US and China, most notably—comes from the chair of the conference and reflects what working groups pulled together in the first week. In many ways, it hews to the Copenhagen Accord from last year’s summit—without mentioning it by name—and expands on the portions of that text. The text proposes that countries agree to “hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and states that countries “should take urgent action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity.”

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Nov 29 2010

One More Round: Plans for Another Climate Change Conference

Cacun, Mexico where the summit will be held, via wikimedia

Previous international summits on climate change, including the last one in Copenhagen, have produced more conflict than solutions.  So, for the next summit in Cancun, Mexico, attendees are keeping expectations low even as the effects of climate change are being felt around the world, including in our own backyard. The chances of getting a legally binding agreement out of the summit are extremely low.  Conflicts between developing and developed nations over emission reduction efforts haven’t been resolved and since the last summit, scientists have determined that greenhouse gases reached record levels last year.  Instead, the goal will be to focus on subsidies for developing nations to help them achieve growth with less GHG emissions.

BBC: “Modest Hopes for Climate Summit as Gas Levels Rise”

“Keeping the show on the road” may be all governments can hope for at next week’s UN climate talks, the UK admits.

Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne said there was no chance of getting a legally binding deal at the summit in Cancun, Mexico.

The aim, he said, should be to get “within shouting distance”.

Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released data showing that greenhouse gas levels continued their rise through 2009.

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Nov 22 2010

Think Globally, Act Locally: Climate Change Action around the World

by Robert Simmon, based on data from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (via Wikimedia Commons)

As the effects of global climate change are being felt around the world, nations are beginning to take action, with each country focusing on its own goals and methods for reaching them.  Certain nations are taking a strong leadership role and thinking of creative solutions for the problems facing them.  Reflecting this renewed focus, the United States has also just completed a conference hearing on the issue with three panels of climate experts testifying before the Subcommittee on Energy & Environment.  Also, several states in the US have moved forward with plans on dealing with climate change.  From the Marshall Islands cutting 40% of their already minimal emissions to New York state planning to shift development to accommodate rising sea levels, the below articles deal with international actions on climate change.

Scientific American: “New York State Begins Planning for Sea Level Rise”

NEW YORK — New York state is beginning to take the threat of sea level rise attributed to climate change seriously as a new government prepares to settle in next year.

Starting Monday, state officials in Albany will gather with members of the public to discuss a recently released 93-page report that recommends major changes to development planning and conservation along coastlines from the tip of Long Island all way up the Hudson River Valley.

Any reforms to come from the process, starting next week, would affect about 62 percent of New York state’s population, the proportion estimated to reside now in areas that could be hard hit as rising land and ocean temperatures raise average sea levels around the globe.

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Oct 11 2010

Hot Topics this Week

International Court of Justice

A new report was published by the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) stating that, under the international rule of “no harm,” developing nations under siege from the effects of climate change could potentially bring suit against developed nations.  There are still many questions and issues with this approach, including the potential for political backlash from developed nations like the U.S. who could threaten to withdraw international aid in response to litigation.  However, some say that this is another avenue for developing nations who are frustrated at the lack of progress produced by international conferences such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Continue Reading »

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