Looking for information on the (unhappy) outcomes of the Madrid climate change negotiations, this NY Times Editorial Board piece from a week ago caught my eye. There is not anything specifically inaccurate in it. But it just continues to buy into the conventional wisdom that the UN climate change negotiation system is a good process that, like the ozone treaties, will eventually yield success. Unfortunately, the ozone treaties (the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol) were much simpler treaties. When they were first created, they involved far fewer countries and were not nearly as ambitious. There is one other issue that I wish people talked more about. Climate change is, as a practical matter from the carbon emission perspective, not really a “global” problem, even though the global negotiation process pretends it to be.
Twenty countries account for more than 80% of the world’s carbon emissions; the top 10 countries account for 71%; and the top 5 for 61%. (Take a look at the Union of Concerned Scientists carbon emission chart as well as the statistics of the International Energy Agency.) Imagine having a negotiation among these 5 countries, China (29% of world emission), US (16%), India, Russia, and Japan (instead of the 200 within the UNFCCC), where the outcome would address almost 2/3 of the world’s carbon emission. Heck, if you threw in the European Union (EU-28), you would have a whoppy 6 party negotiation and capture an additional 10% of carbon emission for a total of 71% of world emission. Of course, negotiating among these countries would be no cake-walk. But at least, the negotiators would no longer be able to hide in the crowds and behind the facade of semi-anual gigantic international conference with an enormous carbon footprint.
A nice retrospective video (for those considering applying to Santa Clara Law’s Study-Abroad Programs), shared with me by Mckenna Vanderveen.
From my emails:
Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP) in Environmental Law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University
The Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University seeks applicants for a Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP) in Environmental Law. The VAP in Environmental Law will hold a one-year appointment, renewable for a second one-year term. The appointment is designed to mentor and train future environmental law professors and prepare them for the law school teaching market. Pace defines environmental law broadly and welcomes candidates with interdisciplinary interests and approaches to environmental law.
The VAP will have a teaching load of one course per semester and the opportunity to focus on scholarly research and writing. The VAP will receive the same office and administrative support as other faculty members, is invited to participate fully in faculty activities, and will receive a small travel and research fund. Additionally, the VAP will present a work-in-progress at Pace Law’s Future Environmental Law Professors Workshop, receive feedback and mentoring from other scholars, and present a finished manuscript to the faculty at our weekly scholarly colloquium.
Candidates will be selected based on their prior work and educational experience, and teaching and scholarly potential. Pace is committed to achieving equal opportunity in all aspects of University life. Applications are encouraged from people of color, individuals of varied sexual and affectional orientations, individuals who are differently-abled, veterans of the armed forces or national service, and anyone whose background and experience will contribute to the diversity of the law school.
Applicants should submit:
- Cover letter (discussing qualifications and interests)
- Curriculum Vitae (that lists three references and law school courses the candidate would be interested in teaching)
- Law school transcript
- One published scholarly article or an unpublished paper draft or prospectus that reflects the candidate’s scholarly interests and potential
Applications should be received by Friday, December 20, 2019, but will be considered thereafter until the position is filled.
If you would like to be considered for a Visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Law appointment beginning in the Fall of 2020, please send your application materials via email to Jennifer Chin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please direct any questions to Professor Margot Pollans at email@example.com. Only electronic submissions will be accepted.
This particular tragedy related to adventure travel to visit a volcano in New Zealand caught my eye because I finished teaching my 1L tort law course a few of weeks ago and only submitted my final exam last week. It contains a couple of teachable aspects. Many of the cases that I cover in my torts course involve serious human tragedies, yet when one reads the dry judicial writing describing the events, one would never really appreciate the pain, suffering and tragedy that occurred. Here, the news article describes the raw suffering of the injured and how tourists and tour operators were lulled into thinking that it would be safe to bring people to the volcano. From a tort law teaching perspective, the incident also poses some interesting questions about the tour company’s liability and the types of legal defenses that could be raised. Is there a future exam question here . . . ?
A really insightful piece about the current state of the global climate change negotiations and politics.
Here’s some great advice that one of my former students, now practicing with a large corporate law firm, had for my current 1L law students. I am sure they will need a break from an intense first semester of law school. Unfortunately, for the sake of their future legal career, there is not much rest to be had. The early (as well as diligent and assertive) bird still gets the worm.
As I have been looking for information about the current status of the negotiations on Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement in the ongoing UNFCCC climate change meeting in Madrid, Spain, a colleague pointed me to the blog of RINGO (Research and Independent NGOs), ringosnet.wordpress.com. It has a link to a very useful paper by Axel Michaelowa, Aglaja Espelage & Benito Müller of the European Capacity Building Initiative on the Article 6 negotiations leading up to this climate change meeting and the significance of Article 6 (https://ecbi.org/sites/default/files/Article%206%202019.pdf).
Article 6 deals with ITMOs, i.e. Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes, which is the “treaty-speak” for international market mechanisms, i.e. primarily emission trading. These mechanisms were more explicitly set out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (Joint Implementation mechanisms, Clean Development Mechanism, Emission Trading, and the so-called EU-Bubble). [Now that I read the terms and my description of them being “explicit,” I realize that they are no less obscure than ITMOs. At least when terms like Joint Implementation and Clean Development Mechanisms were introduced with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, they had not independent meaning. Score one for obscure (international treaty) legalese making it impossible for non-lawyers to understand the important concepts.] Since the Kyoto Protocol (KP) commitments have expired, among the key questions for the Paris Agreement is how these activities under the KP will carry over into the Paris Agreement (especially the valuable credits that companies and countries have created or otherwise acquired under the KP). So far, however, it’s been quite difficult to get a good read on what has been going on in the Madrid negotiations. But with the meeting end in sight in just a couple of days, the world will know a lot more soon.