CPR Archive for David Hunter

Trump's Fossil Fuel Dream Team Faces Climate Change's Checks and Balances

by David Hunter | May 05, 2017

Due to the blinders of his fossil fuel dream team and the industry's myths denying climate change (#ExxonKnew), President Donald Trump seems once again on the verge of withdrawing from the Paris climate change accord. That's a fool's errand.

Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement would be a major blow to U.S. standing and leadership in the world. It would also slow our country's efforts to do our part in avoiding catastrophic climate change. So why is he even considering a trip down this dangerous road?

At the significant cost of further tarnishing the United States' image abroad, Trump gets to keep a political promise and make dubious noise about aiding the domestic coal industry. But like so many other Trump actions, its rhetorical impacts (both positive and negative) will be significant, but the practical impacts will be substantially muted by systemic checks and balances – in this case, checks and balances built into the Paris Agreement that will counter Trump's parochial denialism.

First, the global climate regime is fundamentally science-driven, and the inexorable urgency presented by climate change supported as it is by an overwhelming scientific consensus is the first and most important check on the Trump fossil fuel dream team. All the current administration's denial of climate change, censorship of climate science, and rejection of carbon's social cost will not stop the climate from changing, the sea levels from rising, the heat waves from killing, or the costs on ...

Making private companies pay their share for climate change: a new study could revive climate change litigation

by David Hunter | November 26, 2013
Efforts to hold private companies responsible for their contribution to climate change just took a big step forward, thanks to researcher Rick Heede.  For the past eight years, Heede has painstakingly compiled the historical contribution of fossil fuel companies to today’s concentrations of greenhouse gases.  According to Heede’s study ”Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010,” which was published in Climatic Change, just 90 enterprises have accounted for over sixty percent of total ...

World Bank Risks Weakening Environmental and Social Standards

by David Hunter | December 04, 2012
The World Bank has started a process that appears likely to weaken its environmental and social safeguard policies.  Although the Bank has repeatedly stated there will be no “dilution” of the policies, the Bank’s scoping paper released in October and its ongoing consultations clearly reveal a desire to replace clear standards with discretion and deference to its developing country borrowers.  The Bank, whose environmental and social safeguard policies have long provided important minimum standards for protecting communities affected by international ...

Meeting Low Expectations at Rio+20

by David Hunter | June 19, 2012
This is not your father’s Earth Summit.  This week’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development is meant to assess how far we’ve come from the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (ambitiously named the Earth Summit).  And the 1992 Earth Summit was ambitious, featuring the largest gathering of world leaders in history as well as thousands of civil society and private sector participants whose presence heralded the emergence of a global environmental movement.  The original Earth Summit endorsed sustainable development ...

Executive Order Embraces International Regulatory Race to the Bottom as Official Administration Policy

by David Hunter | May 02, 2012
On one level, President Obama’s Executive Order issued Tuesday, “Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation,” seems benign enough.  After all, who would be against international cooperation and a desire to “reduce, eliminate or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements”?  Moreover, the Order on its face does little more than set out priorities and procedures for enhancing international regulatory cooperation. Unfortunately, this Order is a one-way regulatory ratchet that leads only to deregulatory changes in the United States that at best will provide ...

Extending Protection to Wildlife: Why the United States Should Ratify the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

by David Hunter | February 27, 2012
a(broad) perspective Today’s post is first in a series on a recent CPR white paper, Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why the United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties.  Each month, this series will discuss one of these ten treaties.  Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels Adopted and Opened for Signature on June 19, 2001 Entered into Force on February 1, 2004 Number of Parties: 13 Signed by the United States, June 19, 2001 Sent to the Senate ...

Cap, But no Trade for Bella Center Passes; Meanwhile, Conference's Legacy of Transparency in Danger

by David Hunter | December 16, 2009
Environmental negotiations have long set the standard for transparency and participation. The relationship between environmental organizations (of all kinds) and the negotiators has always been one tempered by a shared vision that the negotiations would succeed (in contrast to negotiations at the WTO or World Bank where “success” for many activists was often defined as the failure of the negotiations). The history of transparency and participation in environmental negotiations is taking a huge hit this week in Copenhagen—not because of ...

In Copenhagen, Progress on Financial Pledges Limited; Draft Document Punts Details to COP-16

by David Hunter | December 15, 2009
Although virtually all of the attention regarding Copenhagen in the United States focuses on mitigation targets, in the developing world a primary focus of any environmental agreement is on the scale, sources and governance of any financial resources being made available. This is particularly true in Copenhagen, where the Global South has demanded upwards of a trillion dollars in development assistance over the next decades. That number is almost certainly out of reach, but with only a few days left ...

(Re)Defining Success at Copenhagen: Here's What I'll be Looking For

by David Hunter | December 11, 2009
As the first week of formal negotiations at the Copenhagen Climate Summit comes to a close, the United States and China are exchanging barbs and little progress is being made … but behind the scene many negotiators remain confident that at least some form of a political agreement can be reached that will move global climate governance significantly forward. Beginning on Sunday I will join fellow CPR Member Victor Flatt (see his preview on offsets and adaptation) as a credentialed ...

Also from David Hunter

David Hunter is a Professor of Law and Director of the International Legal Studies Program at American University, Washington College of Law, and Director of the Washington Summer Session on Environmental Law.

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