Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

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Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:06 pm

As discussed on other threads, rapid action is needed to reconcile scientific knowledge about the causes of present and future climate disruption, and the current lack of meaningful political action to address it. For instance, the Paris Agreement's commitments are far too weak, and most countries aren't going to make them anyway:
The majority of the carbon emission reduction pledges for 2030 that 184 countries made under the Paris Agreement aren’t nearly enough to keep global warming well below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). Some countries won’t achieve their pledges, and some of the world's largest carbon emitters will continue to increase their emissions, according to a panel of world-class climate scientists.

Their report, “The Truth Behind the Paris Agreement Climate Pledges,” warns that by 2030, the failure to reduce emissions will cost the world a minimum of $2 billion per day in economic losses from weather events made worse by human-induced climate change. Moreover, weather events and patterns will hurt human health, livelihoods, food, and water, as well as biodiversity.

On Monday, November 4 [2019], the Trump Administration submitted a formal request to officially pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement next November. Every nation in the world has agreed “to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change,” according to language in the pact.

“Countries need to double and triple their 2030 reduction commitments to be aligned with the Paris target,” says Sir Robert Watson, former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and co-author of the report that closely examined the 184 voluntary pledges under the Paris Agreement.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/scie ... -billions/

The Death of Fossil Fuels thread has been doing a fascinating job covering the technological advances that mean that a net-zero-carbon world by 2030 is completely achievable. Unfortunately, the availability and advantages of that technology don't do enough to overcome the economic, societal and political impediments to the effecting the necessary transitions.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting and useful to start another thread to collate and discuss sensible actions being undertaken to enact change. In particular, I'd like to think about ideas that utilise as far as possible the current institutions and status quo viz. distributions of wealth and power, because if we have to change politics and the economy in general before we can fix 2030's carbon emissions than we are probably totally f.cked.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:12 pm

Method 1: the courts, using legislation that has already been passed.

For example, Portuguese children sue 33 countries over climate change at European court:
Young activists from Portugal have filed the first climate change case at the European court of human rights in Strasbourg, demanding 33 countries make more ambitious emissions cuts to safeguard their future physical and mental wellbeing.

The crowdfunded legal action breaks new ground by suing multiple states both for the emissions within their borders and also for the climate impact that their consumers and companies have elsewhere in the world through trade, fossil-fuel extraction and outsourcing.

The plaintiffs – four children and two young adults – want the standard-setting court to issue binding orders on the 33 states, which include the EU as well as the UK, Norway, Russia, Turkey, Switzerland and Ukraine, to prevent discrimination against the young and protect their rights to exercise outdoors and live without anxiety.

The case is being filed after Portugal recorded its hottest July in 90 years. It was initiated three years ago following devastating forest fires in Portugal that killed over 120 people in 2017. Four of the plaintiffs are from Leiria, one of the worst-hit areas. The two other applicants live in Lisbon, which sweltered through record-breaking 44C heat in 2018.

Expert testimony will warn that these trends will worsen in the future. On the current path of about 3C of warming above pre-industrial levels, scientists have predicted a thirty-fold increase in deaths from heatwaves in western Europe by the period 2071-2100. At 4C, which is also possible, they say heatwaves above 40C would endure for more than 30 days a year, quadrupling the risk of forest fires.
Deliberately taking actions that will result in unsafe conditions in the future does seem to be a pretty clear case of prejudicing somebody's welfare. I'm not a lawyer, but organisations like GLAN (who are behind this action) and ClientEarth (who have had several notable successes in the past) are, and seem to think it's worth bringing a case.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:24 pm

Method 2: economics.

There have been campaigns for divestments for at least a decade, often centred on universities, but now it's becoming mainstream. For example, Managers Of $40 Trillion Make Plans To Decarbonize The World:
The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) is a European group of global pension funds and investment managers, totaling over 1,200 members in 16 countries, who control more than $40 trillion in assets (€33 trillion). They have drawn up a plan to cut carbon in their portfolios to net-zero and hope other investors will join them.

The group’s mission is to mobilize capital for a global low-carbon transition and to ensure resiliency of investments and markets in the face of the changes, including the changing climate itself. They provide asset managers with a set of recommended actions, policies, collaborations, measures and methods to help them meet the net-zero goal by 2050 in an effort to address climate change. Their framework was developed with more than 70 funds worldwide.

The European Union aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. This objective is at the heart of the European Green Deal and in line with the EU’s commitment to global climate action under the Paris Agreement.
Part of the motivation may well be humanitarian, but this is probably also good economic and legal sense. Not only are fossil fuel companies in increasing legal difficulty, for both direct fraud and for misleading the public for 50 years over climate change risks, there's also growing awareness of the fact that the majority of the world's carbon stocks can't be burned anwyay, making most of them worthless, and regulators are slowly beginning to take an interest in the carbon bubble.

The article continues with some back-of-envelope economic calculations:
The equivalent in electricity to charge an all-electric vehicle fleet is about 28 billion kWhs/day, the output of almost 2,000,000 MW of new installed generation. This is another 10 trillion kWhs/year, bringing our total future energy needs worldwide to about 45 trillion kWhs/year.

At a world average price of 14¢/kWh, that represents about $6 trillion/year.

But we spend over $5 trillion globally on fossil fuel subsidies and these would be freed up for this task of decarbonization if we forgo fossil fuel. So cost doesn’t have to be the big issue we think it is.

Plus, if a society uses coal for over 30% of its energy needs, their health care costs increase about 10%. Global spending on health care totals about $8 trillion, so replacing coal could save up to $800 billion/year. That, plus ending the subsidies, could well pay for most of this huge change.
The point about healthcare shouldn't be underestimated. Within the EU, one in eight deaths is linked to pollution, much of it from fossil fuels. This is almost certainly a bigger problem in countries with worse air quality and more young people: how many €trillions are we wiping off future productivity with the diesel generators of Lagos or Chinese coal fumes?
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:29 pm

I listened to a podcast on strategic climate litigation a few weeks ago, can't remember if I've linked to it already: https://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-player?catego ... &facet=all

it was quite interesting. One thing that was interesting was Irum Ahsan talking about litigation in Asia - firstly how it is perceived as something that interferes with development and industry which is needed to bring people out of poverty, when as she argues it's necessary that development is sustainable, and I think she also talks about a 'friendly' judiciary who are amenable to considering these issues, and providing training etc.

I have to admit I wasn't listening to it that closely as I was cooking and generally mooching about while it was on, so I can't highlight any 'take aways' from it, but if you have 90 mins to spare...

Thanks for all these sorts of threads btw.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:08 pm

discovolante wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:29 pm
I listened to a podcast on strategic climate litigation a few weeks ago, can't remember if I've linked to it already: https://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-player?catego ... &facet=all

it was quite interesting. One thing that was interesting was Irum Ahsan talking about litigation in Asia - firstly how it is perceived as something that interferes with development and industry which is needed to bring people out of poverty, when as she argues it's necessary that development is sustainable, and I think she also talks about a 'friendly' judiciary who are amenable to considering these issues, and providing training etc.

I have to admit I wasn't listening to it that closely as I was cooking and generally mooching about while it was on, so I can't highlight any 'take aways' from it, but if you have 90 mins to spare...

Thanks for all these sorts of threads btw.
Actually just to link economics and law - I've forgotten a lot of the detail so may be getting my facts slightly skewed but one example of litigation given by one of the speakers was a case in Poland, where the claimants bought some (a small number of) shares in I think a company that invested in coal, and then brought an action against the company for breach of its duty to them as shareholders for investing in an energy source that isn't financially viable in the long run. Or something like that anyway. It's probably written down on the internet somewhere!
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:41 pm

discovolante wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:08 pm
discovolante wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:29 pm
I listened to a podcast on strategic climate litigation a few weeks ago, can't remember if I've linked to it already: https://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-player?catego ... &facet=all

it was quite interesting. One thing that was interesting was Irum Ahsan talking about litigation in Asia - firstly how it is perceived as something that interferes with development and industry which is needed to bring people out of poverty, when as she argues it's necessary that development is sustainable, and I think she also talks about a 'friendly' judiciary who are amenable to considering these issues, and providing training etc.

I have to admit I wasn't listening to it that closely as I was cooking and generally mooching about while it was on, so I can't highlight any 'take aways' from it, but if you have 90 mins to spare...

Thanks for all these sorts of threads btw.
Actually just to link economics and law - I've forgotten a lot of the detail so may be getting my facts slightly skewed but one example of litigation given by one of the speakers was a case in Poland, where the claimants bought some (a small number of) shares in I think a company that invested in coal, and then brought an action against the company for breach of its duty to them as shareholders for investing in an energy source that isn't financially viable in the long run. Or something like that anyway. It's probably written down on the internet somewhere!
I'm going to listen to that podcast this evening - it looks fascinating. So thanks!

Someone I follow on Twitter posted recently that they're running to be on the "Representative Committee" of their bank (in the Faeroe Islands) in order to demand that it divests from hydrocarbons. So maybe amongst financial institutions with more democratic governance structures there's opportunities to push for this sort of thing.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:25 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:41 pm
discovolante wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:08 pm
discovolante wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:29 pm
I listened to a podcast on strategic climate litigation a few weeks ago, can't remember if I've linked to it already: https://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-player?catego ... &facet=all

it was quite interesting. One thing that was interesting was Irum Ahsan talking about litigation in Asia - firstly how it is perceived as something that interferes with development and industry which is needed to bring people out of poverty, when as she argues it's necessary that development is sustainable, and I think she also talks about a 'friendly' judiciary who are amenable to considering these issues, and providing training etc.

I have to admit I wasn't listening to it that closely as I was cooking and generally mooching about while it was on, so I can't highlight any 'take aways' from it, but if you have 90 mins to spare...

Thanks for all these sorts of threads btw.
Actually just to link economics and law - I've forgotten a lot of the detail so may be getting my facts slightly skewed but one example of litigation given by one of the speakers was a case in Poland, where the claimants bought some (a small number of) shares in I think a company that invested in coal, and then brought an action against the company for breach of its duty to them as shareholders for investing in an energy source that isn't financially viable in the long run. Or something like that anyway. It's probably written down on the internet somewhere!
I'm going to listen to that podcast this evening - it looks fascinating. So thanks!

Someone I follow on Twitter posted recently that they're running to be on the "Representative Committee" of their bank (in the Faeroe Islands) in order to demand that it divests from hydrocarbons. So maybe amongst financial institutions with more democratic governance structures there's opportunities to push for this sort of thing.
I did listen to this, by the way, and it was great! Super interesting people, approaching a problem I'm familiar with from an angle I know nothing about, and getting good things done. They did mention that energy company as well, but I can't remember what it was now.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:40 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:25 am
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:41 pm
discovolante wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:08 pm


Actually just to link economics and law - I've forgotten a lot of the detail so may be getting my facts slightly skewed but one example of litigation given by one of the speakers was a case in Poland, where the claimants bought some (a small number of) shares in I think a company that invested in coal, and then brought an action against the company for breach of its duty to them as shareholders for investing in an energy source that isn't financially viable in the long run. Or something like that anyway. It's probably written down on the internet somewhere!
I'm going to listen to that podcast this evening - it looks fascinating. So thanks!

Someone I follow on Twitter posted recently that they're running to be on the "Representative Committee" of their bank (in the Faeroe Islands) in order to demand that it divests from hydrocarbons. So maybe amongst financial institutions with more democratic governance structures there's opportunities to push for this sort of thing.
I did listen to this, by the way, and it was great! Super interesting people, approaching a problem I'm familiar with from an angle I know nothing about, and getting good things done. They did mention that energy company as well, but I can't remember what it was now.
Cool, glad to hear it :)
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by plodder » Sat Oct 03, 2020 7:51 am

The Good Law Project have moved into the environmental realm. Agreed that the law is the trick to it all. It sets the baseline for economic activity.

https://goodlawproject.org/case/energy-policy/

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Oct 04, 2020 1:09 pm

Interesting perspective on the divestment movement in the Graun https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... -emergency, following news that Cambridge University is divesting its massive endowment of fossil investments:
We appear to have firmly entered the era that divestment campaigners have long foreseen: fossil fuels are simply no longer good investments.

This year, oil companies have written down billions in assets, and waves of bankruptcies have swept US shale gas while the North Sea oil and gas industry has shed jobs. ExxonMobil was removed from the Dow Jones industrial average after nearly a century, and five tech companies now dominate the S&P500, occupying an astonishing 20% of the index’s value compared with the measly 2.3% claimed by the entire energy sector.

Prudent financial institutions are responding by shifting investments to industries where returns are both greater and more secure in the long term. Sometimes this includes green energy, but often it simply means following the market, with freed-up cash shifting to tech and other financial companies.
But there is a limit to the number of endowments and funds that represent beneficiaries who can be readily organised and are willing to submit to these demands, such as student bodies, religious communities and the constituents of progressive councils and cities. A vast amount of the financial system is deeply undemocratic, and – despite the industry’s gloomy outlook – demonstrably unresponsive to demands for an end to fossil fuel finance. Just five North American banks, for instance, have financed nearly $1tn in fossil fuels since 2016, with little sign of slowing. The question, then, is what comes next?

Divestment is a means of addressing an urgent, immediate problem: the financing of fossil fuels. But the divestment movement is fighting a war of attrition, in which its opponents – at least within the economic and political systems built by and for them – are considerably better resourced. The climate crisis is a product of those same systems, and it demands that we fight against them.
Ultimately, we've reached a crisis point where the overwhelming majority of people are being f.cked over by a tiny number with immense entrenched power. It's nice to see the rules of capitalism used to chip away at that edifice, but I sometimes have my doubts as to whether those efforts on their own will be sustainable - capitalism is, after all, a system for entrenching the power of small numbers of people at the expense of the masses.

So yes, I think political and legal instruments will be the way to go, and there's a huge diversity of options there, from international agreements to civil cases.

Thanks for the Good Law Project link, btw - I've seen them in other circs before and they seem like an excellent bunch, so it's great to have them on board.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Oct 04, 2020 1:12 pm

But, in case anyone is in doubt about the enormous power and influence of fossil corporations, here they are trying to get their grubby hands into the UK-organised COP26 climate summit. The offers to sponsor events are bad enough, but offering to mediate meetings between world leaders with their own businesspeople in the room is egregious, and I can't think of a single decent reason the government would entertain these clowns.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... sgow-cop26
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Thu Oct 22, 2020 5:29 pm

If anyone is interested: https://www.scottishlegal.com/article/m ... nvention-2
A judge of the European Court of Human Rights is to deliver this year’s Macfadyen Lecture virtually.

The Scottish Council of Law Reporting has arranged for Judge Tim Eicke to deliver his lecture from Strasbourg at 6:00pm on Thursday 5 November.

The lecture is expected to last for about 25 minutes. There will then be an opportunity for Q&A. Registration is free.

The full text of the lecture will be published on the council’s website as soon as possible after 5 November.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Oct 22, 2020 5:53 pm

Ooo thanks! I am registered.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Nov 05, 2020 5:13 pm

Nearly time for this lecture! Looking forward to it.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Thu Nov 05, 2020 5:27 pm

Haha oops thanks for the reminder :oops:

I was actually casually looking at masters programmes that had a lot of climate change/environmental law modules the other day...but no, no, I can't do that.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Fri Nov 06, 2020 9:03 am

How was it? I didn't watch it in the end, I didnt want to stare at a screen. I'll probably read through the transcript but it meant I missed the Q and A which is a shame.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Sun Nov 29, 2020 5:10 pm

Finally got round to reading through the transcript a few days ago (it's here: https://www.scottishlawreports.org.uk/p ... #_ednref42). I wanted to post all detailed and eloquently but that's obviously not possible.

A lot of what he was saying seemed to echo issues with 'strategic' litigation generally, in that in order to even get off the starting block you usually need an individual who is affected by the issue, with a good enough case, who is willing and able to take legal action. The boundaries of this have been pushed in recent times as he indicates in para 36, also here. A proper lawyer would probably have much better examples...but anyway it's still an issue. Two of the issues which seemed particularly relevant to climate change related litigation though were what seems to be a requirement for an almost immediate effect, rather than a gradual change which might affect both health and life decisions in the future (I may have misunderstood that though) and the issue he addresses at the end of individual state responsibility and jurisdiction limiting where cases can be brought that may not certain states. Also, highlighting the issues of Article 8 in para 18:
In order to engage Article 8, however, ‘the adverse effects of environmental pollution must attain a certain minimum level’; the assessment of that minimum being, by definition

‘relative and depend[ing] on all the circumstances of the case, such as the intensity and duration of the nuisance, and its physical or mental effects. The general context of the environment should also be taken into account. There would be no arguable claim under Article 8 if the detriment complained of was negligible in comparison to the environmental hazards inherent to life in every modern city’.
Without having trawled back through the case law (yet) I'm not entirely sure whether that's supposed to mean the detriment relative to your circumstances as an already-city-dweller, or whether if you lived in a rural environment you should be expected to accept a change that would be equivalent to what someone living in a city would be used to. Either way it seems like an unhelpful race to the bottom and I'm not sure if that's an inherent flaw in Article 8 and the way the case law has developed in respect of other issues or whether it's something that's open to change in future.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Mar 17, 2021 4:13 pm

discovolante wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 9:03 am
How was it? I didn't watch it in the end, I didnt want to stare at a screen. I'll probably read through the transcript but it meant I missed the Q and A which is a shame.
(seems I never replied to this - better late than never!)

I found it interesting to hear directly from the legal perspective, or addressed to others from a legal background - I've only really heard from conservationists/scientists who've been involved with cases before. It was valuable to be reminded of the importance of establishing the very basics - that the law as written definitely applies to the case in question. I'm sure this sounds super obvious to an actual law person! But I hadn't seen much analysis of e.g. the Portuguese youth ECHR case from that perspective: it's relatively straightforward to demonstrate that young people's lives are going to be hugely f.cked up because of governments' failures to do anything useful about climate change, but it sounds like the more dicey area of contention is whether or not ECHR applies (though I saw a couple of weeks ago the governments' motion to dismiss the case was denied).

Anyway thanks for sharing it. I am trying to engage more and more with legal/policy stuff as I go along (seriously considering a sideways move after PhD).
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Mar 17, 2021 4:13 pm

Another short (30 min) podcast on this, from BBC 4's Law in Action:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000t4v8
Around the world environmentalists are taking governments and companies to court to fight climate change. Joshua Rozenberg explores how the law is evolving into a powerful activists' tool.

In the first case of its kind, in a ruling that was upheld by the Dutch Supreme Court, the Netherlands were found to have a duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% compared to 1990, and this by December of last year. What happened?

Apart from governments, companies are being sued by individuals or shareholders. For example, a Peruvian farmer has filed a case in a German court against a German electricity company for what he claims is its role in warming up the climate enough for him to be threatened by flooding as a nearby Andean glacier melts.

In Poland activist shareholders sued the board of their utility company to stop the development of a new coal mine, claiming an "indefensible" financial risk, due to rising carbon costs and falling renewables prices.

And senior lawyers are developing the concept of "ecocide", with the aim to make it an indictable offence at the International Criminal Court, analogous to genocide or crimes against humanity.

So how is the law evolving to tackle climate change, asks Joshua Rozenberg.
Will have a listen when I wash up later.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Wed Mar 17, 2021 10:17 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 4:13 pm
discovolante wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 9:03 am
How was it? I didn't watch it in the end, I didnt want to stare at a screen. I'll probably read through the transcript but it meant I missed the Q and A which is a shame.
(seems I never replied to this - better late than never!)

I found it interesting to hear directly from the legal perspective, or addressed to others from a legal background - I've only really heard from conservationists/scientists who've been involved with cases before. It was valuable to be reminded of the importance of establishing the very basics - that the law as written definitely applies to the case in question. I'm sure this sounds super obvious to an actual law person! But I hadn't seen much analysis of e.g. the Portuguese youth ECHR case from that perspective: it's relatively straightforward to demonstrate that young people's lives are going to be hugely f.cked up because of governments' failures to do anything useful about climate change, but it sounds like the more dicey area of contention is whether or not ECHR applies (though I saw a couple of weeks ago the governments' motion to dismiss the case was denied).

Anyway thanks for sharing it. I am trying to engage more and more with legal/policy stuff as I go along (seriously considering a sideways move after PhD).
Lol you should have written (no pun intended) after 'dicey' and then you would've been in with the crowd :P

But anyway yeah glad you found it interesting. On a whim over the weekend I ordered an environmental law textbook :? f.ck knows if I'll so much as even open it when it arrives because law is boring as f.ck unless you're actually doing it :lol: but I keep glancing sideways at a couple of masters in environmental law but f.ck me, it's £10-15k and 2 years' work and I'm not sure if I can justify that or even if I have it in me at the moment. I guess it's just that I think I need to accept that I am never going to be getting down to the nitty gritty with the science, reading scientific papers and whatnot, it will always be someone else's narrative of a load of study for the benefit of an ignoramus layperson like me. But I probably would stand a reasonable chance of getting at least a basic working knowledge of environmental law that I could maybe do something useful with? But I dunno, still seems a bit daft. And I would probably end up out of date pretty quickly too. So yeah, I went for the textbook instead, much cheaper :P
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:32 pm

I didn't want to start a whole new thread for this and here seemed the most appropriate place, but it's still a little off-topic.

Carbon emissions from England's roads plan '100 times greater than government claims'
Lawyers for Transport Action Network (TAN) claim that the strategy is incompatible with climate crisis commitments. Government lawyers have argued that the additional net greenhouse gases from the roadbuilding are de minimis, or too small to be material.

However, testimony from two UK transport and environment professors – both of whom have previously acted as advisers to the government – said the true impact of the roadbuilding would be many times greater than the Department for Transport’s calculations suggest...

He said that the government’s calculations appeared to include only “new” schemes in RIS2, just five of the 50 listed in the £27bn roadbuilding programme. He said it appeared to exclude significant contributors to the climate crisis such as emissions from construction, and that the government had not factored in a lifetime impact, but only until 2032 – when some of the road schemes would not have been completed.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Apr 14, 2021 10:38 am

New Zealand again demonstrating its commitment to evidence-led policy, this time by forcing the financial sector to stop hiding their portfolios' climate vulnerabilities:
New Zealand is set to consider legislation that would require banks, insurers and asset managers to disclose the impacts of climate change on their businesses as the country tries to slash its carbon emissions.
The government said in a statement Tuesday that the bill is the first of its kind to be proposed anywhere in the world. It will receive its first reading in parliament this week, and it would make climate-related disclosures mandatory for around 200 organizations.
"We simply cannot get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 unless the financial sector knows what impact their investments are having on the climate," Climate Change Minister James Shaw said in a statement. "This law will bring climate risks and resilience into the heart of financial and business decision making."

The legislation would require financial firms to disclose how climate change affects their business, and explain how they will manage climate-related risks and opportunities. If the bill is passed, the first disclosure reports would be published by companies as soon as 2023.

"Requiring the financial sector to disclose the impacts of climate change will help businesses identify the high-emitting activities that pose a risk to their future prosperity," Shaw said, "as well as the opportunities presented by action on climate change and new low carbon technologies."
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/13/inve ... index.html

I know NZ's financial sector isn't enormous globally speaking, but I also have some hope that revelations made there would ripple outwards, as with the well-observed Brussels effect. The EU is really dragging its heels on a lot of this stuff, unfortunately…
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Wed Apr 14, 2021 2:38 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 10:38 am
New Zealand again demonstrating its commitment to evidence-led policy, this time by forcing the financial sector to stop hiding their portfolios' climate vulnerabilities:
New Zealand is set to consider legislation that would require banks, insurers and asset managers to disclose the impacts of climate change on their businesses as the country tries to slash its carbon emissions.
The government said in a statement Tuesday that the bill is the first of its kind to be proposed anywhere in the world. It will receive its first reading in parliament this week, and it would make climate-related disclosures mandatory for around 200 organizations.
"We simply cannot get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 unless the financial sector knows what impact their investments are having on the climate," Climate Change Minister James Shaw said in a statement. "This law will bring climate risks and resilience into the heart of financial and business decision making."

The legislation would require financial firms to disclose how climate change affects their business, and explain how they will manage climate-related risks and opportunities. If the bill is passed, the first disclosure reports would be published by companies as soon as 2023.

"Requiring the financial sector to disclose the impacts of climate change will help businesses identify the high-emitting activities that pose a risk to their future prosperity," Shaw said, "as well as the opportunities presented by action on climate change and new low carbon technologies."
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/13/inve ... index.html

I know NZ's financial sector isn't enormous globally speaking, but I also have some hope that revelations made there would ripple outwards, as with the well-observed Brussels effect. The EU is really dragging its heels on a lot of this stuff, unfortunately…
Interesting. Do we know if things like publication alone is likely to make any difference in this kind of context? E.g. it's probably not a great comparison but I'm not sure whether or not the requirement to produce EPCs for properties has made an impact. I did a quick search earlier but couldn't find much apart from a 10 year old paper on a scheme in Germany. Anecdotally I've never decided not to rent somewhere because it has poor energy efficiency, but I appreciate the power balance is a bit different when it's a tenant looking for a home rather than businesses making decisions, especially if it's slowly being decided that investing in high carbon industries is a loser in the long run, so I'm just wondering.

On a different note, I listened to this podcast a few days ago: https://gimletmedia.com/shows/howtosave ... -outsidein about Massachusetts v Environmental Protection Agency, a case which decided on the obligations of the EPA to regulate tailpipe emissions under the provisions of the Clean Air Act.

The production is quite erm, annoying cheesy American podcast style, unfortunately, but apart from that I thought it was pretty good. They explained the legal issues relating to administrative law and how certain arguments are more likely to attract the attention of the courts, as well as the limitations of the outcome of the case and the difficulties in relying on old and arguably out of date legislation to deal with new issues that weren't really contemplated when the legislation was drafted.

And, made me think of a potential essay question: is there any point in having an equivalent to sections 3 and 4 of the Human Rights Act (interpreting legislation in a way that is compatible with Convention rights, and the court's power to make a declaration of incompatibility) in environmental legislation - e.g. something that requires legislation to be compatible with some kind of emissions target? And if so how would it be drafted? There is section 1 of the Climate Change Act but it's not really the same thing. (Also off the top of my head I don't really see how something like that would work, I just thought it would be a fun exercise :P but if anyone knows of anywhere that's done something like that please let me know!)
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:01 am

This is a long piece but is a fascinating read and well worth your time. As I know most of you won't I've tried to pick out the key points below.

It's about "net zero" and how it's basically a modelling fantasy designed to buy us time we don't actually have.
We have arrived at the painful realisation that the idea of net zero has licensed a recklessly cavalier “burn now, pay later” approach which has seen carbon emissions continue to soar.
They talk about James Hanson, administrator of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who testified to the US Congress in 1988 about climate change,
If we had acted on Hanson's testimony at the time, we would have been able to decarbonise our societies at a rate of around 2% a year in order to give us about a two-in-three chance of limiting warming to no more than 1.5°C. It would have been a huge challenge, but the main task at that time would have been to simply stop the accelerating use of fossil fuels while fairly sharing out future emissions.
Of course, we didn't. But in 1992 the Rio Earth Summit got countries to start accepting climate change was real and in 1997 the Kyoto Summit started giving countries targets.
It was around that time that the first computer models linking greenhouse gas emissions to impacts on different sectors of the economy were developed. These hybrid climate-economic models are known as Integrated Assessment Models. They allowed modellers to link economic activity to the climate by, for example, exploring how changes in investments and technology could lead to changes in greenhouse gas emissions.

They seemed like a miracle: you could try out policies on a computer screen before implementing them, saving humanity costly experimentation. They rapidly emerged to become key guidance for climate policy. A primacy they maintain to this day.

Unfortunately, they also removed the need for deep critical thinking. Such models represent society as a web of idealised, emotionless buyers and sellers and thus ignore complex social and political realities, or even the impacts of climate change itself. Their implicit promise is that market-based approaches will always work. This meant that discussions about policies were limited to those most convenient to politicians: incremental changes to legislation and taxes...

Given their core assumption of incremental change, it was becoming more and more difficult for economic-climate models to find viable pathways to avoid dangerous climate change. In response, the models began to include more and more examples of carbon capture and storage, a technology that could remove the carbon dioxide from coal-fired power stations and then store the captured carbon deep underground indefinitely...

But long before the world would witness any such schemes, the hypothetical process had been included in climate-economic models. In the end, the mere prospect of carbon capture and storage gave policy makers a way out of making the much needed cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
After realising that carbon capture and storage wasn't going to work, they then turned to Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). This is where you plant crops to burn for energy, but extract the carbon in them as they burn so you end up with net negative carbon in the atmosphere. Sounds great, in theory. In practice, not so much,
It has been estimated that BECCS would demand between 0.4 and 1.2 billion hectares of land. That’s 25% to 80% of all the land currently under cultivation. How will that be achieved at the same time as feeding 8-10 billion people around the middle of the century or without destroying native vegetation and biodiversity?

Growing billions of trees would consume vast amounts of water – in some places where people are already thirsty. Increasing forest cover in higher latitudes can have an overall warming effect because replacing grassland or fields with forests means the land surface becomes darker. This darker land absorbs more energy from the Sun and so temperatures rise. Focusing on developing vast plantations in poorer tropical nations comes with real risks of people being driven off their lands.
With all these carbon capture methods turning out to be pipe dreams, you might think that the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement is sounding difficult to achieve. And you'd be right,
We struggle to name any climate scientist who at that time thought the Paris Agreement was feasible. We have since been told by some scientists that the Paris Agreement was “of course important for climate justice but unworkable” and “a complete shock, no one thought limiting to 1.5°C was possible”. Rather than being able to limit warming to 1.5°C, a senior academic involved in the IPCC concluded we were heading beyond 3°C by the end of this century.
The piece ends with a discussion about the division between science and activism and the desire to appear independent rather than advocate for a particular course of action. It's a really tricky subject and one where I don't think there's a right or wrong answer.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Apr 22, 2021 7:33 pm

Deserves it's own thread, but I'm about to call some friends.

Biden is pulling in front of the pack on climate stuff, AFAICT. I particularly like the way he's already thought about how to get round GOP obstructionism - like a chess grand master, he's already thinking a move ahead.

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/2 ... ess-484141
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