September 2012

“[G]rowth alone, even at sustained, spectacular rates, has not produced the kind of life satisfaction crucial to a stable society — an experience that shows how critically important good jobs and a strong social safety net are to people’s happiness.”

“It is noteworthy that at a time when the need for a strong safety net is under attack in the United States, the world’s most fervent capitalist nation has inadvertently demonstrated its critical importance for people’s happiness.”

“Huang Qingjun has spent nearly a decade travelling to remote parts of China to persuade people who have sometimes never been photographed to carry outside all their household possessions and pose for him.”

This week I’m the Uppsala Forum Visiting Fellow at Uppsala University in Sweden. Tomorrow I’m giving a talk on "States as Market Participants in the U.S. and EU? Public Purchasing and the Environment." Generally speaking, I need feedback to improve my understanding of EU law as it relates to public procurement and the environment. Today, I’m meeting with my Uppsala colleagues about collaboration in relation to China given our successful workshop in Guangzhou two weeks ago. Once again I have an office on the Uppsala University campus with a window overlooking the beautiful Uppsala domkryka.

On Friday September 28, Vermont Law School will hold its inaugural Conference on Agriculture and Food Systems to help mark the launch of the law school’s new Center for Agriculture and Food Systems. The conference website and conference brochure are available here:

The keynote address will be presented by Kathleen A. Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

Panel speakers will include other government officials, academic experts, and farmers and other food producers. Some of the participants in this list who will be speaking at the conference include Marc Mihaly (newly installed VLS Dean and President), Robert Adler, Jan Laitos, Laurie Beyranevand, Lisa Heinzerling, Rebecca Bratspies, David Wirth, Michelle Nowlin and Bill Eubanks.

I have been in Shanghai for the last two days, and have been amazed by the blue skies, sunny days and starry nights, which locals chalk up to the typhoon on the way to Korea and a depressed economy. I’ve met with faculty and prospective students at East China University of Political Science & Law and Fudan University, as well as attended a gala charity event for the environmental NGO Shanghai Roots and Shoots. But perhaps most overwhelming about Shanghai is that it feels more like L.A. than the China I have been accustomed to.

For two days I’ve been in Ningbo, China. Yesterday evening I gave a lecture at Ningbo University on climate policy. The students were extremely engaged, not only asking questions about environmental law and policy, but also about the recent tensions between China and Japan. The cultural highlight was at dinner. While I am completely used to unique Chinese dishes and while live seafood that can be purchased and cooked is commonplace in restaurants, I had never before seen live animals inside a restaurant. These animals included duck, pheasant, and something that looked like a small groundhog. Today’s meal included octopus eggs. Today I visited a Chinese factory for the second time, and it was much like an American tool and die-casting small business, with fewer worker safety supplies (e.g., work googles). I left feeling that there is significant potential to work with Chinese businesses to improve environmental and worker safety conditions if consumers demand it and thus larger businesses, that use Chinese companies to manufacture parts, ask for and pay for the needed changes.

On Monday I gave a lecture on Climate Policy & U.S.-China Relations for the law and public adminstration majors at the Guangdong University of Technology in Guangzhou. Now I am in Hong Kong where I formalizing the renewal of the Vermont Law School summer internship with WWF-Hong Kong.

As the first 7 provinces and major cities who are experimenting with carbon trading, Guangdong has moved forward with its carbon trading initiative from system design to actual operation. Guangdong provincial government has recently published Implementing Plans for Guangdong Province Carbon Trading Experiment to designate 827 enterprises from 9 major industries for carbon emission control and carbon quota trading. These are the enterprises that emit 20,000 tons or more of CO2 in any year between 2011-2014 from the power sector, cement, steel, ceramics, oil refining, textile, non-ferrous metal, plastics and papermaking, but not including transportation and construction/building.

Today I’m at Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU) in Guangzhou, China, co-hosting a “Workshop on Environmental and Public Health Law, Regulations, and Remedies.” The goal of the workshop is to discuss how environmental law can better handle public health concerns, and to build institutional ties between fellow co-hosts SYSU and Uppsala University in Sweden. Topics have included information disclosure such as air quality data and toxic releases, impacts of environmental harm on food safety and drinking water, the intersection between climate change and public health and environmental justice concerns like e-waste. The day ended with a spirited discussion about the role of public participation and information disclosure in Chinese society.

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