Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Zoellick becomes World Bank president

The Executive Directors of the World Bank yesterday unanimously selected Robert Zoellick as the 11th President of the bank for a five-year term.

The President of the bank is ex-officio President of the International Development Association (IDA) and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Administrative Council of the International Centre of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

This announcement affects every aspect of environmental, energy, and resources law, of course, due to the Bank's pivotal role in financing development -- and thereby setting development policy throughout the world.  So, who is this masked man?

Here's the Bank's bio:

Professional History of Mr. Robert B. Zoellick

Mr. Zoellick, a U.S. national, is currently Vice Chairman, International, of Goldman Sachs Group, and a Managing Director and Chairman of Goldman Sach’s Board of International Advisors. He has served in a number of senior positions in successive US administrations, including as Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of State, and as U.S. Trade Representative (2001-05). He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Policy, US Department of Treasury, and Undersecretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs and Counselor in the U.S. State Department. He was Executive Vice President of Fannie Mae (1993-1997), the large U.S. mortgage finance corporation, as well as Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman and CEO. In addition, he served as Olin Visiting Professor, U.S. Naval Academy, as Senior Advisor, Goldman Sachs, as Research Scholar, Belfer Center, Harvard University, and previously on three corporate boards, as well as numerous research and non-profit boards.

Mr. Zoellick has a J.D., magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, and a M.P.P. (in public management and international issues) from the Kennedy School of Government. In addition, Mr. Zoellick has received numerous distinguished service awards.

Read between the lines: Zoellick is a Bush loyalist and true believer in globalization for the benefit of corporate interests and the wealthy.  Wouldn't it be refreshing sometime for the World Bank to be led by someone who is committed to reducing international poverty and who has on the ground development experience -- rather than ideological theorizing and strategizing experience.

Unfortunately, and I say this as an alumna of both, Zoellick's Kennedy School and HLS credentials just mean he's smart, not moral or committed to the public he is supposed to serve.

June 26, 2007 in Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 2, 2007

It's Too Damned Hot!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Spirit of the Eagle

This blog is devoted principally to the professional or academic aspects of environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.  But like any blogger, I do have a life.  Anyone interested in the slightly less academic side of me is welcome to visit Spirit of the Eagle, my personal blog.

February 26, 2007 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

2007 Drink Water for Life

Drink Water for Life Challenge

As readers know, the royalties of this blog are now devoted to international NGOs providing safe, clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education.

The 7th Millennium Development Goal seeks to cut in half the number of people without those essentials by 2015. Current estimates are that it will cost about $16 billion additional per year until 2015 to accomplish that goal.  I find it unbelievable that we cannot globally achieve that goal, especially when unnecessary deaths from water-borne diseases exceed 2 million, mostly children, each year.  That's one child every 15 seconds.

For those of you who are members of faith-based communities, I suggest that you sponsor a DRINK WATER FOR LIFE challenge associated with your congregation.  Drink water instead of lattes (sodas, bottled water, coffee, alcohol).  Do it for Lent (or your appropriate analogous spiritual break).  Get your friends, your synagogue or church, school or workplace to do the same.  Collect the money you save, gather it together on  Easter (or whatever date makes sense in your faith tradition), put it in a Water Fund, and send it to one of the organizations that do this work.  With just $5000, an entire village of 200 - 500 people can be supplied with safe, clean, sustainable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education. 

If you need addresses of faith-based organization who do this work, or secular charitable organizations who do this work, let me know.  If you need flyers explaining the problem, let me know.  Together we can make a difference.

February 6, 2007 in Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 5, 2007

EU Seeks to Lead World Climate Policy by Committing to a Unilateral Cut of 20% by 2020 and Supporting an International Agreement for 30% by 2020

Last month, the European Commission proposed a comprehensive package of measures to establish a new Energy Policy for Europe to combat climate change and boost the EU's energy security and competitiveness. The proposal set ambitious targets on greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy, creates a true internal market for energy, and strengthens energy regulation. The Commission supports an international agreement on climate change of a 30% cut in emissions from developed countries by 2020. Underscoring that commitment, the Commission proposes that the European Union commit now to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, in particular through energy measures.

According to the Commission:

Europe faces real challenges. There is a more than 50% chance that global temperatures will rise during this century by more than 5°C. On current projections, energy and transport policies would mean that rather than falling, EU emissions would increase by around 5% by 2030. With current trends and policies the EU's energy import dependence will jump from 50% of total EU energy consumption today to 65% in 2030. In addition, the internal energy market remains incomplete which prevents EU citizens and the EU economy from receiving the full benefits of energy liberalisation.

The three "central pillars" of the proposal are described by the Commission as follows:

1. A true Internal Energy Market

The aim is to give real choice for EU energy users, whether citizens or businesses, and to trigger the huge investments needed in energy. The single market is good not just for competitiveness, but also sustainability and security.

The competition sector enquiry (see IP/07/26) and the internal market communication show that further action is required to deliver these aims through a clearer separation of energy production from energy distribution. It also calls for stronger independent regulatory control, taking into account the European market, as well as national measures to deliver on the European Union's target of 10% minimum interconnection levels, by identifying key bottlenecks and appointing coordinators.

2. Accelerating the shift to low carbon energy

The Commission proposes to maintain the EU's position as a world leader in renewable energy, by proposing a binding target of 20% of its overall energy mix will be sourced from renewable energy by 2020. This will require a massive growth in all three renewable energy sectors: electricity, biofuels and heating and cooling. This renewables target will be supplemented by a minimum target for biofuels of 10%. In addition, a 2007 renewables legislative package will include specific measures to facilitate the market penetration of both biofuels and heating and cooling.

Research is also crucial to lower the cost of clean energy and to put EU industry at the forefront of the rapidly growing low carbon technology sector. To meet these objectives, the Commission will propose a strategic European Energy Technology Plan. The European Union will also increase by at least 50% its annual spending on energy research for the next seven years.

At present, nuclear electricity makes up 14% of EU energy consumption and 30% of EU electricity. The Commission proposals underline that it is for each member state to decide whether or not to rely on nuclear electricity. The Commission recommends that where the level of nuclear energy reduces in the EU this must be offset by the introduction of other low-carbon energy sources otherwise the objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions will become even more challenging.

3. Energy efficiency

The Commission reiterates the objective of saving 20% of total primary energy consumption by 2020. If successful, this would mean that by 2020 the EU would use approximately 13% less energy than today, saving 100 billion euro and around 780 tonnes of CO2 each year.

The Commission proposes that the use of fuel efficient vehicles for transport is accelerated; tougher standards and better labelling on appliances; improved energy performance of the EU's existing buildings and improved efficiency of heat and electricity generation, transmission and distribution. The Commission also proposes a new international agreement on energy efficiency.

The proposals centred on these three pillars will need to be underpinned by a coherent and credible external policy

An international Energy Policy where the EU speaks with one voice

The European Union cannot achieve its energy and climate change objectives on its own. It needs to work with both developed and developing countries and energy consumers and producers.  The European Union will develop effective solidarity mechanisms to deal with any energy supply crisis and actively develop a common external energy policy to increasingly "speak with one voice" with third countries. It will endeavour to develop real energy partnerships with suppliers based on transparency, predictability and reciprocity. 

Drawing on the consultation process on its Green Paper issued in 2006, the Commission has already made progress towards a more coherent external energy policy as demonstrated by the creation of a network of energy security correspondents. The Commission proposes a whole series of concrete measures to strengthen international agreements including the Energy Charter Treaty, post-Kyoto climate regime and extension of emissions trading to global partners and further extend bilateral agreements with third countries so that energy becomes an integral part of all external EU relations and especially of the European Neighbourhood Policy. As major new initiatives the Commission proposes to develop a comprehensive Africa-Europe partnership and an international agreement on energy efficiency.

Concrete action is required urgently. Taken together, the sector enquiry, strategic review and action plan represent the core of a proposed new European Energy Policy. This process seeks to move from principles into concrete legislative proposals. The Commission will seek endorsement of the energy and climate change proposals during the Spring European Council and will come forward with legislation in light of these discussions.

All the documents can be found at the following addresses:

http://europa.eu/press_room/presspacks/energy/index_en.htm

February 5, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, Legislation, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

TheSeminar on Economics of Climate Change

The Stern Review  and the Economic Impact of Climate Change
      
Resources for the Future is pleased to host a special seminar on the economics of climate change featuring a discussion on the recently released Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change <http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/sternreview_index.cfm> . Compiled by Sir Nicholas Stern, head of the United Kingdom's Government Economics Service and adviser to the U.K. government on the economics of climate change and development, the Stern Review is the first major government-sponsored report on the economics of climate change.

This technical seminar provides a rare public opportunity in the United States for members of the Stern Review  team and outside experts to discuss and answer questions about the methodologies and conclusions of the Stern Review and the economic analysis of climate change more generally.  One hour of the event will be dedicated to addressing questions from attendees in order to engage in a broader discussion of these issues.
                

        Moderator:                      
        Billy Pizer
, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future
                        
       Panelists:
       
Alex Bowen, Senior Economic Adviser, The Stern Review      
       Henry (Jake) Jacoby, Professor of Management and Economics,
                                Massachusetts Institute of Technology
       Joe Aldy, Fellow, Resources for the Future
  
When:            Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

                         
Where:            Kelley Auditorium
                        Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
                        1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW (one block east of Dupont Circle)
 Washington, D.C.

January 30, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Governance/Management, International, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Buy ADM: Bush's Global Warming Cure

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Economist's Opinion on US Emissions Trading

     
Green.view

New ideas from old Europe

Jan 22nd 2007
From Economist.com

How an American carbon-trading system should work

Get article background

IN RECENT weeks, a rush of climate-change bills has started circulating in America’s new Congress. Eminent names are behind them: in the Senate, Joe Lieberman and John McCain have sponsored one, Dianne Feinstein another and Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the energy committee, a third. A national cap on emissions of carbon-dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, looks closer than ever.

But how should American regulations work? Part of the approach is likely to be a carbon-trading system, which companies prefer because it is more flexible than a carbon tax. The basic idea is that power plants and manufacturers will be allowed to emit a certain number of tons of carbon dioxide. If they exceed that amount, they must buy “credits” from companies that pollute less than their allowance. One day the price of a tonne of carbon may be as widely quoted as that of a barrel of oil.

At a conference last week in Houston, the heart of the energy world, traders and energy companies gathered to discuss the shape of carbon markets to come. America has two models to work from. The European Union (EU) has been trading carbon-dioxide credits since 2005, in an effort to meet its obligations under the United Nations’ treaty on climate change, the Kyoto protocol. It has had plenty of blips, including last April, when prices of carbon plunged by more than half as traders realised that some countries had emitted less than believed. But now, hedge funds and speculators are joining the trading—a sign of a liquid and robust market.

Another model for America is closer to home. America was the first country to be involved in emissions trading. Ironically, credit goes partly to George H. W. Bush—father of the current climate-change sceptic in the White House—whose signing of the Clean Air Act in 1990 authorised trading in sulphur-dioxide emissions to combat acid rain. The effort was hugely successful, and nitrogen oxide was added later.

AFP
AFP

Some lessons are immediately clear. First, predictability is crucial. One downside of the EU’s system is that companies do not know what will be required after 2012, when Kyoto’s provisions expire. That makes it difficult to plan power plants or factories with long lifespans.

Traders should also be prepared for early jumps in prices. This happened at the start of America’s nitrogen-oxide trading, and during the first year of the EU’s scheme. Scary as they may seem, the rises are a logical result of adjusting to a new market. Companies may be reluctant to sell their credits, in case they become needed later, and buyers are eager to make quick purchases lest the price rise further.

The most important thing is putting a trusted trading structure in place initially. That includes an accurate tally of emissions, and a sensible allocation of permits. Mason Henderson, who heads the emissions-credit desk of Cantor Fitzgerald, a securities-trading company told the conference in Houston, “If you don’t get it right from the start, you’re not going to catch up.”

If Congress does not act, that could be the worst case of all for businesses. Several states are looking into developing emissions-trading schemes, creating a potential patchwork of conflicting regulations. California’s green governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, last year signed legislation to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in his state by 25% below their current trajectory in 2020. This will probably involve trading, though details are scant. In the north-east, seven states have banded together to reduce emissions from power plants. Trading is scheduled to start in 2009.

Notwithstanding Mr Schwarzenegger’s plans to partner with the north-eastern initiative, companies would far prefer a consistent national system. “You don’t want someone to move their business from the Houston area to Louisiana because it’s cheaper,” says Mr Henderson of Cantor Fitzgerald. That is part of why even oil companies are signalling openness to a national emissions-trading scheme, and the industry is awaiting word on whether President George Bush will make any carbon-related announcements in his state-of-the-union address this week. In the long run a global scheme linking American and European markets and beyond—with accompanying improvements in technology that reduces emissions—will be an even better way to address a global problem.



Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

   

         

                                            

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January 22, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, Legislation, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

EU reaches with REACH

E.U. Clamps Down on Hazardous Chemicals

By Malin Sandström
ScienceNOW Daily News
14 December 2006

European lawmakers passed a sweeping environmental law yesterday that will regulate nearly a third of the roughly 100,000 chemicals produced in or imported to the European Union (E.U.). Called Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals, or REACH, the bill is 8 years in the making and has been one of the most intensely lobbied pieces of legislation in E.U. history. Industry groups are bracing for the changes while some environmental organizations say the law does not go far enough.

REACH got rolling in 1998 when E.U. environment ministers called for stricter controls on a variety of industry chemicals known to harm human health. Since then, industry and consumer activists have lobbied intensely for changes and amendments.

The main targets of the legislation are flame retardants and other common chemicals, with poorly documented risks, as well as "substances of very high concern," such as solvents and other chemicals that cause cancer, damage genes, or impair fertility. Industries using these chemicals will have to register them with a new E.U. Chemicals Agency set up in Helsinki, Finland. Under the legislation, companies would need to find safer alternatives to any chemicals deemed to be of high concern to human health. Other chemicals could be banned outright.

Some innovation is likely to be triggered by REACH, says Thomas Jostmann, executive director of the European Chemical Industry Council, Cefic. But the European chemical industry fears the bill places an undue burden on smaller companies. A chief complaint is the high cost of meeting REACH's standards, estimated at 2.8 billion to 5.2 billion euros over 11 years. (For its part, the European Commission says that the costs borne by the chemical industry will be offset by health benefits totaling 50 billion euros over 30 years.)

Environmental groups have complaints of their own. Greenpeace and WWF say REACH has several loopholes, such as permitting the continued use of most hazardous chemicals even if a safer alternative is available. All manufacturers need do, they say, is demonstrate that they are exercising "adequate control" of the chemical--a term that is not yet defined. Another criticism--especially from the public--has been the many animal tests that will be necessary. In a statement made last year, Günter Verheugen, the vice president of the European Commission in charge of Enterprise and Industry, said the regulations imposed by REACH could lead to tests on up to 3.9 million extra animals per year.

Still, environmentalists are happy that the "burden of proof" for chemical safety is finally shifted to the producers and importers of chemicals. And Jostmann says the chemical industry will benefit from enforcement of better communication about substances--something that has proved to be difficult without a legal structure.

The E.U. will begin to implement aspects of REACH starting in June. The full law will be phased in gradually for 11 years after that.

December 16, 2006 in Economics, EU, Governance/Management, Law, Toxic and Hazardous Substances | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Economics of Global Warming

The world would have to give up only one year's economic growth over the next four decades to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to  stave off the threat of global warming. Consultants at PricewaterhouseCoopers offer a "green growth plus" strategy, combining energy efficiency, greater use of renewables and carbon capture to cut emissions by 60% by 2050 from the level reached by doing nothing. Nuclear energy, it says, can play a role, but it is not crucial.

This scenario, which involves little real sacrifice in terms of economic growth, could be achieved only if embarked upon without delay.  "If countries adopt a 'business as usual' approach, the result could be a more than doubling of global carbon emissions by 2050," said John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics at PwC.  "Our analysis suggests that there are technologically feasible and relatively low cost options for controlling carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Estimates suggest that the level of GDP might be reduced by no more than 2-3% in 2050 if this strategy is followed."

PwC envisages the Group of Seven leading economies taking the initiative, cutting their emissions by about half by 2050, while the fast-growing E7 countries - China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey - could still increase their emissions by 30% over the period.   The PwC projections see China overtaking the United States as the world's biggest emitter of CO2 by 2010 while total E7 emissions would be more than double G7 emissions by 2050, with the "big three" - China, the US and India - accounting for just over half, up from 45% today.  The European Union could cut its share of global emissions to under 9% by 2050 from 15% now, while Britain's should fall to 1% from 2%.

A shift to a much less carbon-intensive fuel mix would more than double the current non-fossil fuel primary energy share to about 30% by 2050. That alone would be sufficient to reduce carbon emissions by 25%. PwC's view that renewables could do the job without having to use nuclear technology could undermine Tony Blair's argument that atomic power is crucial.  Increasing energy efficiency gains to 2.6% a year from today's 1.6% would reduce emissions by a third, while carbon capture and storage - pumping power station emissions into disused gas fields underground - could achieve a further 20%.  The report says a combination of all these measures will be necessary to stabilise global CO2 levels at 450 parts per million, the figure scientific opinion judges to be broadly acceptable.

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange
/story0,,1883753,00.html


September 29, 2006 in Africa, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, North America, South America, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 8, 2006

Dynamite Quick Reference for Students

Tomorrow the Economist will publish its survey on climate change  "The Heat is On." Economist link  I heartily recommend it for anyone who wants to bring their students or themselves quickly up to speed regarding the science, technology, economics, and law of climate change  -- about 15 pages, incorporating much of the climate research I have blogged this year.   As of yesterday, you can buy a PDF for $5 (or read/print each article in the online version if you have an Economist online subscription). 

September 8, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Law, Legislation, North America, Physical Science, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Clean Development Mechanism Funds Chinese Reductions of HFC-23

Reuters reports:

The World Bank put together on Tuesday the largest greenhouse gas deal ever, where European and Asian companies and others will pay two Chinese chemical companies US$1.02 billion to reduce output of gases believed to cause global warming.  In the deal, European and Asian companies bound by the UN's Kyoto Protocol to tackle climate change, will pay the Chinese chemical companies to reduce and destroy emissions of HFC23, a heat-trapping gas 11,700 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

The deal will reduce emissions by about 19 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, according to the World Bank.  About 75 percent of the money to purchase the reductions came from private capital. Additional participants included entities in World Bank managed funds including the Danish Carbon Fund, the Italian Carbon Fund, Deutsche Bank, Mitsui & Co and two entities of Natsource LLC, which calls itself the world's largest greenhouse gas asset manager.

As a developing country, China, the world's No. 2 producer of greenhouse gases, is not required to reduce emissions of heat trapping gases in the first phase of the international global warming pact the Kyoto Protocol, which runs from 2008 to 2012. Tuesday's deal was done under Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism(CDM), which allows allows rich countries to meet some of their greenhouse gas reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol by investing in reductions in developing countries.  "The resources came together from lots of different directions. Therewas pooling and deployment of capital in a large scale which was good to see that the CDM could do that," Jack Cogen, president of New York-based Natsource, said in a telephone interview.  The Chinese government will recoup 65 percent of the money from the deal though taxes on the two chemical companies and use it cut greenhouse gases and expand the use of renewable energy.  In addition, the technology to burn and destroy HFC23, a waste gas formed in making refrigerants, can be put in place quickly. "The beauty of industrial gas projects is that both of these projects will start generating greenhouse gas emission reductions later this year, one in October and one in December," said Anita Gordon, a World Bank spokeswoman.

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August 30, 2006 in Asia, Climate Change, EU, Governance/Management, International, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mercury Boomerang

What goes around, comes around: recycled mercury exported from the US is returning in the form of drifting air pollution -- undermining our efforts to eliminate mercury from the environment.  CT mercury article 

Tons of toxic mercury from U.S. recycling programs are funneled each year to loosely regulated industries in developing countries, where much of the hazardous metal is released into the atmosphere.  Scientists say some of that air pollution can drift back to this country and contaminate lakes and rivers, undercutting aggressive efforts to keep mercury out of the environment.  The federal government estimates that U.S. firms exported at least 276 tons of mercury last year. It moves overseas through a little-known network of purifiers and brokers that operates without government oversight and faces few questions about what happens to the silvery metal once it is sold.  Environmental regulators acknowledge they know more about used motor oil and scrap tires than they do about the mercury trade, in part because it is considered a commodity and isn't subject to the same handling and tracking laws as hazardous waste.  But as policymakers become more aware of the dangers of mercury exposure, particularly for young children and women of childbearing age, they are focusing more attention on curbing sources of mercury pollution.

Last month, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) introduced legislation that would bar American mercury exports.  "This is a problem that is impacted by things happening all over the world," Obama said in a recent interview. "But we can make an enormous difference."  Combined with a European Union proposal to block mercury exports, the U.S. effort could shrink global supplies of the metal and drive up the cost enough to encourage alternatives, Obama said. 

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August 11, 2006 in Air Quality, Economics, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, Legislation, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Friday, August 4, 2006

Oil Spill Threatens Mediterranean Coast

 
Sometimes its hard to keep things in perspective.  The rumor is flying around the blogosphere that the environmental situation in Lebanon is as serious as the Exxon Valdez spill.  Although Exxon Valdez taught us a lot about how long-lasting the natural resources damages from oil spills can be, I would not analogize a 110,000 barrel spill to an 11 million barrel spill.  As the graphic below illustrates the  Exxon Valdez spill extended about 470 miles --  which my metrically challenged brain thinks is roughly 750 kilometers -- greater than the length of this slick by a factor of 10.Exxon_valdez_spill
AP report:
Environmental Disaster Looms;  Oil spill threatens Mediterranean after power plant hit;  Cleanup along Lebanon's coast can't begin until fighting ends

BEIRUT — Endangered turtles die shortly after hatching from their eggs. Fish float dead off the coast. Flaming oil sends waves of black smoke toward the city.

In this country of Mediterranean beaches and snow-capped mountains, Israeli bombing that caused an oil spill has created an environmental disaster. And cleanup can't start until the
fighting stops, the United Nations said.

Pools of oil disfigure a beach in the bay of Byblos, 42 kms north of Beirut. Lebanon's greens launched an international appeal for help to combat an environmental crisis caused by a huge oil spill south of Beirut, more than two weeks into an Israeli air war.(AFP/File/Nicolas Asfouri)
World attention has focused on the hundreds of people who have died in the three-week-old conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The environmental damage has attracted little attention but experts warn the long-term effects could be devastating. Some 110,000 barrels of oil poured into the Mediterranean two weeks ago after Israeli warplanes hit a coastal power plant. One tank is still burning, sending clouds of thick black smoke across Lebanon. Compounding the problem is an Israeli naval blockade and continuing military operations that have made any cleanup impossible. "The immediate impact  can be severe but we have not been able to  do an assessment," said Achim Steiner, executive director
of United Nations Environment Program, in Geneva. "But the longer the spill is left untreated, the harder it will be to clean up." The oil has slicked  about one third of Lebanon's coast, an 80-kilometre stretch centred on the Jiyeh plant, about 20 kilometres south of Beirut, Lebanese Environment Minister Yaacoub Sarraf said. It has also drifted out into the Mediterranean, already hitting neighbouring Syria. Experts warn that Cyprus, Turkey and even Greece could be affected.

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August 4, 2006 in Asia, Biodiversity, Economics, Energy, EU, Physical Science, Water Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sometimes its hard to keep things in perspective.  The rumor is flying around the blogosphere that the environmental situation in Lebanon is as serious as the Exxon Valdez spill.  Although Exxon Valdez taught us a lot about how long-lasting the natural resources damages from oil spills can be, I would not analogize a 110,000 barrel spill to an 11 million barrel spill.  As the graphic below illustrates the  Exxon Valdez spill extended about 470 miles --  which my metrically challenged brain thinks is roughly 750 kilometers -- greater than the length of this slick by a factor of 10.

Exxon_valdez_spill

AP report:
Environmental Disaster Looms;  Oil spill threatens Mediterranean after power plant hit;  Cleanup along Lebanon's coast can't begin until fighting ends
BEIRUT — Endangered turtles die shortly after hatching from their eggs. Fish float dead off the coast. Flaming oil sends waves of black smoke toward the city.

In this country of Mediterranean beaches and snow-capped mountains, Israeli bombing that caused an oil spill has created an environmental disaster. And cleanup can't start until the
fighting stops, the United Nations said.


Pools of oil disfigure a beach in the bay of Byblos, 42 kms north of Beirut. Lebanon's greens launched an international appeal for help to combat an environmental crisis caused by a huge oil spill south of Beirut, more than two weeks into an Israeli air war.(AFP/File/Nicolas Asfouri)

World attention has focused on the hundreds of people who have died in the three-week-old conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The environmental damage has attracted little attention but experts warn the long-term effects could be devastating. Some 110,000 barrels of oil poured into the Mediterranean two weeks ago after Israeli warplanes hit a coastal power plant. One tank is still burning, sending clouds of thick black smoke across Lebanon. Compounding the problem is an Israeli naval blockade and continuing military operations that have made any cleanup impossible. "The immediate impact  can be severe but we have not been able to  do an assessment," said Achim Steiner, executive director
of United Nations Environment Program, in Geneva. "But the longer the spill is left untreated, the harder it will be to clean up." The oil has slicked  about one third of Lebanon's coast, an 80-kilometre stretch centred on the Jiyeh plant, about 20 kilometres south of Beirut, Lebanese Environment Minister Yaacoub Sarraf said. It has also drifted out into the Mediterranean, already hitting neighbouring Syria. Experts warn that Cyprus, Turkey and even Greece could be affected.


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August 4, 2006 in Africa, Asia, Biodiversity, Economics, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, Sustainability, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Cities join California in taking independent action on global warming

The Bush administration is toting up quite a foreign policy record: Iraq, Lebanon and now the ever-supportive Tony Blair prefers diplomatic ties to California and major US cities to those with the federal government:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles, London, New York, Seoul and 18 other cities joined forces on Tuesday in a global warming project aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Launched by former President Bill Clinton's foundation, the initiative will allow cities to pool their purchasing power and lower the price of energy-saving products and provide technical assistance to help them become more energy efficient.  Urban areas are responsible for more than 75 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, making reduced energy crucial in the effort to slow the pace of global warming.  Energy-efficient traffic lights, street lighting, the use of biofuels for city transport, and traffic congestion schemes were some of the practical steps that cities are expected to take to reduce greenhouse gases.  "The world's largest cities can have a major impact on this. Already they are at the center of developing the technologies and innovative new practices that provide hope that we can radically reduce carbon emissions," said London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who launched the initiative in Los Angeles with Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.  The Clinton Foundation said it hoped that coordination between major cities will boost efforts now being made by some areas on an individual basis.  The partnership with the foundation began with the participation of 22 cities -- Berlin, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Caracas, Chicago, Delhi, Dhaka, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Toronto and Warsaw.

August 2, 2006 in Air Quality, Climate Change, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Movie Review: The Great Warming

Here's another entry in the world's best global warming films contest!  The current contestants are Brokaw's Global Warming, Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, and now The Great Warming.  For my earlier review of the former two, see 7/2/06 Movie Review: Brokaw and Gore.  I reviewed Brokaw based on a screening copy: now everyone wants to know where to get one.

The Great Warming is a film documentary, produced by Stonehenge, sponsored by Swiss Re, narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, and aired this spring in Canada by the Discovery Channel.  It was screened in Salem today at First Congregational Church, U.C.C.

The Great Warming is a relatively comprehensive look at global warming science, with plenty of experts.  It documents the impacts of far more modest El Nino events on Peruvian fishing villages, the incredible difficulties facing nations like Bangladesh that lie 80% within the flood plain, the impact that adding another 4 billion people will have on energy use, and the pressing need for China, India, Brazil and other developing countries to adopt a better energy path than the disasterous fossil fuel path that developed countries have followed.  It provides plenty of scenic photography, discussion of innovative technologies, and practical solutions. 

The Great Warming also has a particularly interesting slant.  It highlights, in particular, the growing concern in the American Evangelical community about global warming.  It has received endorsements from Rev. Richard Cizik for the National Association of Evangelicals [Rev. Richard Cizik ], Paul de Vries, Dean, New York Divinity School [New York Divinity School], Fr. Jon-Stephen Hedges [St. Athanasius Orthodox Church], the National Council of Churches, Evangelical Environmental Network and the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life.

The film contains frank, hard-hitting comments from scientists, health providers, and other opinion-makers taking America’s  leadership to task for failing to address what is certainly the most critical environmental issue of the 21st century.  The film analogizes the current era of Great Warming to the era of the Great Depression.  And reminds us that our children and grandchildren will ask why we didn't do something about it.

This film does discuss the faith perspective, which may not be satisfactory for all students.  But, it is a great primer on global warming science, the impacts of climate change, and possible solutions.

THE GREAT WARMING
www.thegreatwarming.com

So, what is the bottom line.  Except for the evangelical angle, I'd chose the Great Warming over the other two.  But, given law student reaction to anything that smacks of spirituality or religion, I still think Gore did the best job with the science.

August 2, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, North America, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Welcome to Environmental Law Prof Blog

WELCOME to Environmental Law Prof Blog.  Please feel free to use this post as an open thread to raise issues relevant to environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.                                                                        

The royalties from this blog and my other professional royalties are devoted to assuring that everyone in the world has clean safe drinking water.  This is my part helping meet the Millenium Development Goals.  Our children's children will thank you if you find a way to achieve the MDGs.  Even now, they are watching.... Eyes_hispanic_1

Find YOUR way to make the Millenium Development Goals reality!

Places to Start:
ONE: www.one.org
MILLENIUM PROMISE: www.millenniumpromise.org
MILLENIUM CAMPAIGN: www.millenniumcampaign.org

August 2, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

No Comment Required

Lebanon_qana_rubble_3

The US blocks a UN resolution deploring the Qana attack, softening the language. The US opposes an immediate, unconditional cease-fire.  Lebanon says thanks, but no thanks to a visit by US Secr. of State Rice. Deadly Israeli Air StrikeDove_w_1

July 30, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Baby, Its Hot Out There III: The European Heat Wave 2006

According to the U.S. National Climate Data Center, hot weather enveloped much of Europe during mid-July, with temperatures surpassing 32°C (90°F). In Britain on the afternoon of the 19th, temperatures reached 36.3°C (97.3°F) at Charlwood, or the hottest temperature ever recorded in Britain in July." (NCDC link).  Temperatures on London's underground reached 47-52C (117-126F) and the drought in the south of England is the worst in a century.  For a great graphic, see MSN News European Temperature Map  Reuters reported today that the heatwave in France has killed 21 people.  Additional heat-related deaths have been reported in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Bosnia.  Temperatures in Italy reached over 39C (102F).  Temperatures were expected to rise over the weekend and continue well into next week. Madrid forecast; London forecast; Paris forecast Some scientists make the standard disclaimer that no one weather event can be tied to global warming. See Reuter foundation analysis But, on the other hand, Stott reported in Nature on the risk that human induced global warming added to the probability of extreme heat waves such as the European heat wave of 2004 -- it doubled the risk of such events and Stott predicted then that by 2040, over half of the European summers would include heat waves as severe as 2003.  Well, 2006 appears likely to break the 2003 record. 

July 23, 2006 in Air Quality, Climate Change, EU, Governance/Management, Physical Science, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)