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Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Law’

EU and Copenhagen

October 30, 2009 1 comment

In a follow-up to my earlier post regarding the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate’s Change proposed Heads for a new Climate Change Bill it has eu-reinfeldt-cp-7338261emerged that the EU has agreed a joint negotiating position ahead of the Copenhagen Conference this December. The EU has sought to take the lead at the Conference and in settling on a joint platform it is hoped that the EU will be able to push others into agreement.

One of the main stumbling blocks has been on the question of how much financial support as well as  the degree of technology transfer that should be given to countries of the Global South. While some of these countries, such as China and India, are emerging as major polluters, others have little or no impact upon rates of climate change. However it is the countries of the Global South who will suffer most from droughts and floods should Climate Change keep going unabated.  The UN estimates that yields from rain-fed agriculture could fall by up to 50% in some African countries and that up to 200 million people could be displaced by the effects of climate change by 2050. Obviously the Global North is better placed to deal with these changes than the Global South both financially and with regard to technology. There has been extensive research into this sponsored by both the UN and NGOs.

The EU at today’s summit agreed a joint position on climate finance, though an actual formula for establishing a country’s ability to pay was not settled upon. They also agreed to cut emissions to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020.  Eastern European countries have been particularly concerned that any cuts in emissions will disproportionately affect their abilities to expand and develop their own economies, but with the intervention of Ban-ki Moon were convinced to agree a deal. While the agreed platform by the EU is more likely to lead to success at Copenhagen as Lavanya Rajamani has pointed out one of the greatest impediments to an agreement is the lack of trust in the Global North to fulfill its promises, the lack of success of the Kyoto Protocol is a prime example of this. It will be interesting to watch the various interests formulate their positions over the next month. What is clear is that comprehensive action must be taken soon.

Copenhagen Conference

October 28, 2009 2 comments

The upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagencop15_logo_img is fast becoming a central point for debate and controversy. The Conference is supposed to reexamine the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to consider what steps need to be taken to reduce the rate and pace of climate change and to suggest solutions to the problems that will and have already arisen from the temperature changes that are now inevitable.  The Kyoto Protocol, which contains the cap-and-trade system (a system which allows countries who underused their carbon allocation to sell the excess to another state which has surpassed its limit)  and other legally binding limits on carbon emission and reduction has had limited success in stemming the rate of climate change. The use of ‘soft law’ solutions to international environmental issues has failed in its attempts to gently push states into compliance and it is now admitted even by the United States and China, two countries’ whose carbon emissions are of such a magnitude that without their co-operation it matters little what other states attempt to do, that action must be taken. Mairead blogged about the human rights link on HRinI here.

In Ireland progress towards legally binding limits have been slow with little impetus put into pulling back from the levels of current emissions. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security announced today, ‘Unless there is a clear regulatory framework supportive of Ireland meeting its EU and international commitments, Government, investors, emitters and consumers will not have a context within which to take behaviour changing initiatives.’ It also set out Heads of a Climate Change Bill which is based upon what has already been introduced in other states. The proposed bill would include: the setting of national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, setting of energy and electricity efficiency targets by 2020 and the setting up of  an independent Climate Change Commission. While this sounds marvelous one can’t help but think that this is a preemptive attempt to get around any international commitments that the EU signs up for at Copenhagen.