February 8, 2013
In Case You Missed It: January 29-February 5
1. California successfully defended a lawsuit by two environmental NGOS, which challenged its cap and trade program on the ground that emitters could by credit from entities that were not part of the program. A report of the news is available here.
2. New York Governor Cuomo has proposed that the government buy property in some coastal parts that were affected by Hurricane Sandy and preserve the floodprone area as undeveloped coastline. A newslink to the story is available here. Several residents welcome the proposal and the idea of preserving the area instead of re-building appears sound. The question, however, is whether the risk of building in flood prone areas should be borne by private property owners via insurance or by taxpayers. At the same time, given the scale of government response warranted in such instances, taxpayers may ultimately bear the burden in any case. It is a difficult question, which may only get more complex if extreme weather patterns increase.
3. The United States has filed a complaint against India before the WTO for imposing domestic content restrictions as part some of its program to promote solar energy. India is defending the program as a government procurement. A link to the news is available here.
February 5, 2013
Will nuclear energy become the next big global environmental problem?
Until the tsunami hit Fukushima, the future of nuclear energy appeared bright. Several nations were poised to expand their nuclear energy portfolio. Since the crisis in Japan, however, some countries have reversed their decision. Germany is a good example, as is Japan itself. Both nations are committed to increasing their renewable energy portfolio, instead. From an environmental perspective, particularly nuclear waste and water usage, this is a positive development.
But, not all nations are on board. Other countries, notably emerging economies such as China and India, are poised to expand their nuclear energy. So is the United States. What does this mean to the global environment?
At present, it appears to be a non-issue. But, let us consider a scenario where a few countries generate a substantial amount of nuclear energy. Where will their waste go? What will happen in case of a meltdown? If there is transboundary harm, who will bear the responsibility? These are be issues that require some forethought and may be a good reason to pursue a global regime for civilian nuclear energy. It may seem to be a far off problem, but as environmental history has shown, such problems tend to catch with us quickly, leaving little room for meaningful action.