April 2011

The Post has an opinion piece titled “Hold the accolades on China’s ‘green leap forward’.”

China’s Energy and Carbon Emissions Outlook to 2050


As a result of soaring energy demand from a staggering pace of economic expansion and the related growth of energy-intensive industry, China overtook the United States to become the world’s largest contributor to CO2 emissions in 2007. At the same time, China has taken serious actions to reduce its energy and carbon intensity by setting both a short-term energy intensity reduction goal for 2006 to 2010 as well as a long-term carbon intensity reduction goal for 2020. This study presents a China Energy Outlook through 2050 that assesses the role of energy efficiency policies in transitioning China to a lower emission trajectory and meeting its intensity reduction goals.

Over the past few years, LBNL has established and significantly enhanced its China End-Use Energy Model which is based on the diffusion of end-use technologies and other physical drivers of energy demand. This model presents an important new approach for helping understand China’s complex and dynamic drivers of energy consumption and implications of energy efficiency policies through scenario analysis. A baseline (“Continued Improvement Scenario”) and an alternative energy efficiency scenario (“Accelerated Improvement Scenario”) have been developed to assess the impact of actions already taken by the Chinese government as well as planned and potential actions, and to evaluate the potential for China to control energy demand growth and mitigate emissions. In addition, this analysis also evaluated China’s long-term domestic energy supply in order to gauge the potential challenge China may face in meeting long-term demand for energy.

It is a common belief that China’s CO2 emissions will continue to grow throughout this century and will dominate global emissions. The findings from this research suggest that this will not necessarily be the case because saturation in ownership of appliances, construction of residential and commercial floor area, roadways, railways, fertilizer use, and urbanization will peak around 2030 with slowing population growth. The baseline and alternative scenarios also demonstrate that China’s 2020 goals can be met and underscore the significant role that policy-driven energy efficiency improvements will play in carbon mitigation along with a decarbonized power supply through greater renewable and non-fossil fuel generation.

“The Xinhua state news agency reported on April 20 that rising sea levels caused by global warming over the past three decades have contributed to a growing number of disasters along China’s coast. According to the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), sea levels have been rising on average 2.6 millimeters per year for the past 30 years, with coastal air temperatures rising 0.4 degrees Celsius, and sea temperatures rising 0.2 degrees Celsius. The SOA stated that the rising sea levels could lead to aggravated storm tides, coastal erosion, seawater invasion, and other disasters. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that China could be one of the biggest casualties of global warming in coming decades, with northern regions facing water shortages, decreased crop yields, and increasing sandstorms, whereas melting glaciers could increase flood risks in the south. The Chinese government plans to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels per unit of gross domestic product 17 percent in the next five years.”

Hat Tip: Patrick Parenteau

I have been irresponsible (especially since I brought the case up in my class this week) in not blogging about AEP v. Conn. (here’s an earlier post), the case considers whether common law nuisance can be used to abate greenhouse gas emissions.  The case was argued before the US Supreme Court this week.  So here are some resources, from bloggers more timely than I, to get my readers up to speed.

The oral argument transcript can be found here.

SCOTUSblog’s case page and Argument Recap.

Commentary at Legal Planet here and here and here (my students will be interested in this last link related to nuisance and remedies).

Everyone seems so cynical about Earth Day.  I just received this in my inbox:

Optimists should buy my book for the occassion.  Pessimists should buy this.

Student Research Associates in Vermont Law School’s US-China Partnership for Environmental Law:

Vermont Law School’s US-China Partnership in Environmental Law seeks three students to become Research Associates for the 2011-12 academic year beginning in Summer or Fall 2011.

The Student Research Associates will work under the guidance of Professor Jason Czarnezki and the China Partnership Program Team, and engage in significant scholarship and research on issues related to Chinese and American environmental and natural resources policy, global climate policy and U.S.-China relations. Student Research Associates will be joining the China Partnership’s emerging research team, and will be expected to attend weekly meetings with the program’s research faculty, visiting scholars, and LLM fellows. Students participating in the joint research project program are eligible to apply.

Interested students should send via email a cover letter, resume, and unofficial transcript to Professor Czarnezki.

Is is really true that the politics of “no” are so pervasive that compromise immediately ceases because politicians can’t be perceived as agreeing with the opposing party?  In “What went wrong for cap-and-trade?” Ezra Klein, states:

So the question has to be how the Republican Party swung from a position of partial support for efforts to address global warming to unified opposition. But you won’t find the answer by looking into environmental politics. After all, the same thing happened to the individual mandate in health care, which went from being a Republican position in the 1990s and 2000s to a policy Republicans considered an unconstitutional monstrosity in 2010, and deficit-financed stimulus, which Republicans agreed with in 2009 but turned against in 2010. This “you’re for it so we’re against it” phenomenon is increasingly common in politics, and not limited to any one issue. Cap-and-trade is, for now, a casualty of the way party polarization has become policy polarization. And no one one has yet developed a reliable strategy for interrupting that process.

Today please join ELI, Island Press and Treehugger as we celebrate Earth Day 2011 with a Bookhugger live web chat with Jason Czarnezki, author of Everyday Environmentalism: Law, Nature and Individual Behavior (published by ELI Press).  This live discussion will begin at 3 pm EDT on Thursday, April 21st, and can be accessed here:


Vermont Law School Professor Pat Parenteau in the NY Times.  See here.

Patrick Parenteau, a professor and endangered species expert at Vermont Law School who was special counsel to the Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1990s, said he could empathize with both sides. “The agency does seem to be reaching a political tipping point,” he said. “They feel overwhelmed, they feel politically vulnerable, they can’t handle the job, and all these petitions makes it harder and harder.”

“But from an endangered species conservation perspective, the environmentalists are doing exactly what the science demands,” he added. “If you want to save these species, you have to list them, designate their critical habitat and spend money.”

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