Climate Change

Climate change mitigation, in full, is a dream.  Adaptation is now occuring.  See this article in the Times about Chicago’s response to climate change.  I hope we adapt far better than we mitigate; otherwise adpatation will give way to emergency repsonse.

See here.  Given that most GHG emissions from individuals come from driving, for carbon tax proponents a gas tax or driving tax would make the most sense (though potentially politically toxic).  If you’re interested in learning more on this type of idea, the book “Heat” is a good read.


“Climate Activists Target States With Lawsuits.”  Apparently, like using the common law in AEP v. Conn., the idea is to use the public trust doctrine to protect the atmosphere.  I’m skeptical that courts will allow such an expansio of the doctrine.  My colleage Gus Speth seems more optimistic.

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.

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).

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.

See the cool graphic here.

Hat Tip: Dan Farber.

UPDATE: Wrong hat tip.  Thanks to Jonathan Zasloff.


In my forthcoming book, I suggest that the only potential “mascot” for the climate cause is the polar bear.  Now it seems to be a reality, but I’m not as big a fan of this commercial as others.  And we still have the problem of what is used to produce the electricity.

Today, Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center launched its first annual Top 10 Environmental Watch List. Our environmental faculty and students from the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law researched more than 75 judicial, regulatory, and legislative actions before selecting what they consider the 10 most important environmental law and policy issues of 2010.   Read more at

With a student, I co-authored the article for No. 8 on the list, Supreme Court Reviews Genetically Modified Crops.

Reports the Times.

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