International Environmental Law
This article examines some of the fundamental questions that would arise in litigation on liability for climate change, covering both domestic and international liability law. It sketches some of the questions and issues that would have to be dealt with … Read more
This paper addresses the distribution of accountability between the European Union (EU) and its Member States under the current and future climate regime. Belonging to a field of shared competence between the EU and its Member States, the climate regime … Read more
This chapter explores the basis and manifestations of joint responsibility between the European Union (EU) and its Member States for non-performance of obligations contained in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). Joint responsibility has often been advanced as an attractive solution where … Read more
This report summarizes the presentations and following discussions from the Expert Seminar on Shared Responsibility in International Environmental Law (IEL) held in Amsterdam in October 2011. The overall aim of this Expert Seminar was to map factual situations in which … Read more
7 October 2011
The Expert Meeting will address the allocation of responsibility in respect of environmental protection.
Transboundary environmental harm is the archetypical problem of shared responsibility in that it invites an application of principles of joint and several or proportionate responsibility. But the number of claims that has actually led to the application of such principles is very limited, especially in the context of traditional enforcement mechanisms. Rather, states have laid down in a series of treaties how responsibility for transboundary environmental harm is to be shared. Such arrangements differ for different environmental problems, such as climate change, transboundary air pollution and transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and chemicals.
The seminar is organized with a view to map primary rules in the area of international environmental law.
On the basis of the presentations and discussions during the meeting, a report will be prepared on issues of shared responsibility in the context of environmental law that is made publicly available on this website.
The seminar is open to expert academics and practitioners. If you’re interested to participate, please contact Isabelle Swerissen.
Find the final Programme for the seminar here.
11 June 2012
On 11 June 2012, Professor Daniel Bodansky will give a SHARES lecture on the topic of: ‘The future of the UN climate change regime: options for the Durban platform negotiations’.
Professor Bodansky is Lincoln Professor of Law, Ethics and Sustainability at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He an expert on global climate change whose teaching and research focus on international environmental law and public international law. Professor Bodansky has written extensively on international law, international environmental law and climate change policy.
As part of its Lecture Series, SHARES regularly invites scholars to give presentations on issues of shared responsibility. See here the overview of the SHARES Lecture Series.
3 September 2012
The SHARES Debates are organized by SHARES in cooperation with SPUI25, an academic centre of the University of Amsterdam, which develops connections between academics, students, alumni, and a larger public outside the university. SPUI25 holds regular lectures, debates and interviews aiming at reflecting on current events and engaging with a heterogenous audience.
Through this setting, SHARES will periodically provide discussions platforms where researchers and practitioners will exchange with a wide public. During this first debate, the results of the Rio+20 conference will be discussed through the topic: ‘The Future We Want: The Long Road to Sustainable Development’. (more…)
18 and 19 April 2013
This SHARES Seminar will discuss papers reviewing the practice of shared responsibility in the field of international law of the sea and international environmental law.
In conformity with the general approach of the SHARES Project, the seminar will discuss the law and practice relating to situations where multiple actors (states, international organizations and other non-state actors) have contributed to a single injury, and where questions have arisen about their ex post facto responsibility for that contribution. All papers have in common that they discuss situations where the questions of responsibility are governed, or influenced by international law of the sea or international environmental law. (more…)
25 November 2011
The principle of joint liability in undeveloped in international law. Though some treaties refer to it, and several scholarly articles that have recognized its importance for situations where multiple actors cause injury, the scope and contents of the principle remain uncertain. It is therefore of some importance that the Advisory Opinion of the Seabed Disputes Chamber of ITLOS on Responsibilities and Obligations of States sponsoring persons and entities with respect to activities in the Area (1 February 2011) discussed the principle. In his presentation at the SHARES Seminar on Shared Responsibility in Environmental Law, held at ACIL on 7 November 2011, Judge Treves provided further insight into these, until now somewhat neglected, aspects of the Opinion. (more…)
25 March 2012
The New York Times recently reported that China, the United States and two dozen other countries are looking at coordinated countermeasures against Europe — including putting pressure on European airlines and other industries — if the EU tries to enforce the EU Aviation Directive, that requires airlines to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions.
Much has been said on the legality of the Aviation Directive. Joshua Melzer just published a good analysis of the Directive and its WTO compatibility in the Journal of International Economic Law. In the ATA case, the ECJ considered its compatibility with customary international law (more…)
7 March 2013
In 1990 Michael Glennon wrote a groundbreaking piece in the American Journal of International Law with the title ‘Has International Law Failed the Elephant?’ The question mark hinted at the possibility that international law had not failed the elephant. And perhaps in 1990 there was reason for hope. African elephants had just been included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning the sale of their tusks was outlawed. There was reason for hope that this would limit or even reverse the downward spiral in populations. (more…)
7 June 2011
Climate change, and how to share the responsibility for (minimizing) it, is a hot topic, but also a problematic topic. The complex chains of causation make it hard, if not impossible, to establish responsibility and liability for the harms and effects associated with climate change. On the Yale Environment 360 forum eight leading climate scientists have made a contribution to the current debate on causation that could be of legal relevance as well.
14 September 2011
Given the need for cooperation in order to address the threats caused by climate change, Anna Spain argues that climate change demands new ways of understanding our approaches to resolving international disputes. This challenge is briefly explored in a blogpost on IntLawGrrls and more elaborately discussed in her article “Beyond Adjudication: Resolving International Resource Disputes in an Era of Climate Change“.
26 September 2011
The Pacific island nation of Palau announced plans on 22 September 2011 to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on whether countries have a legal responsibility to ensure that any activities on their territory that emit greenhouse gases do not harm other States.
5 October 2011
Australia and Norway put forth a new proposal to secure a global agreement on climate change by 2015 amid deep divisions between rich and poor countries over the ways to combat global warming.
12 December 2011
On Sunday 11 December 2011, the 17th Conference under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ended with an agreement to work on a new global treaty in coming years and to establish a new climate fund.
15 November 2011
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged governments in rich nations to work around troubled economic times and scale up donations to a global climate change fund that is at risk of becoming an “empty shell”.
24 November 2011
A Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the findings of which were presented at the IPCC’s 34th Session in Kampala, Uganda, says that the risk from extreme weather events is likely to increase if the world continues to warm. IPCC scientists also consider it “very likely” that emissions had led to an increase in daily maximum temperatures. The report further adds that emissions caused some regions to experience longer and more intense droughts.
28 November 2011
Evidence has emerged of unregulated tuna fishing in Libyan waters during this year’s conflict. EU boats are implicated in the fishing, which the European Commission believes could be judged illegal. The issue led to heated discussion at the recent Istanbul meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), where it was decided that research will be carried out into the events.
Source: BBC News – Tuna fished ‘illegally’ during Libya conflict
15 December 2011
One day after the end of the UN Climate Talks in Durban, Canada declared that it would make use of its right to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. Under the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, Canada must formally give notice of its intention to withdraw by the end of this year or else face penalties after 2012, which could amount up to 14 billion USD.
Source: www.nytimes.com – Canada Announces Exit From Kyoto Climate Treaty
17 January 2012
In a column on www.europolitics.info, the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture of Iceland Steingrímur J. Sigfússon called for cooperative efforts of Iceland, the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands regarding the upcoming negotiations of an agreement on the regulation of mackerel fisheries in the North-East Atlantic. Sigfússon insisted that the ‘coastal states carry a joint responsibility for preventing further overfishing from the mackerel stock and ensuring sustainable fishery’ and ‘they must all contribute to reaching an agreement.‘
7 February 2012
After that deliberations on a possible General Assembly resolution began in New York, the President of Palau, Johnson Toribiong, said that actions by individual States are not enough to ‘stem the rising tides or the flood of global emissions’ and that an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice is an appropriate recourse that ‘will give us the guidance we need on what all states must do.’ In the view of the Palauan President ‘the small island states are least responsible’. Palau also intends ‘to raise the consciousness of the world community to the issue of responsibility’ in the process.
Palau had announced plans in September to seek an Advisory Opinion on whether countries have a legal responsibility to ensure that any activities on their territory that emit greenhouse gases do not harm other states.
Source: UN multimedia | ICJ / Climate change
19 February 2012
The New York Times reports that China, the United States and two dozen other countries are looking at coordinated countermeasures against Europe — including putting pressure on European airlines and other industries — if Europe tries to enforce a law requiring airlines to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions.
The European measures are in part a response to the failure of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to move quickly enough to establish standards and goals for greenhouse gases from aviation, as required under the Kyoto climate treaty 15 years ago. Article 2(2) of the Kyoto Protocol stipulates that Annex I parties ‘shall pursue limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol from aviation and marine bunker fuels, working through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization, respectively.’
Source: New York Times | Countries Seek Retaliation to Europe’s Carbon Tax on Airlines
10 April 2012
In an op-ed in the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman explains how the Arab spring was driven not only by political and economic stresses, but, less visibly, by environmental, population and climate stresses as well. He notes: ´If we focus only on the former and not the latter, we will never be able to help stabilize these societies´.
Source: New York Times | The Other Arab Spring
10 April 2012
An order of the Supreme Court of India has instructed the Indian government to proceed with a, long delayed, plan to link more than 30 rivers and divert the waters to areas that are water-stressed. If the project materializes it could have significant impact on Bangladesh, a downstream state. The project could benefit from the building of dams and reservoirs both in Nepal and/or Bhutan, two upstream states. Bangladeshi and Nepalese authorities claim that they have not been consulted with as yet while Bhutan claims that it has not appraised the project.
Source: BBC | Concerns over India rivers order
13 April 2012
The leader of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Rio de Janeiro summit on sustainable development has argued for the establishment of an International Court to enforce agreements on the natural environment. He submits that ‘like human rights, the right to a clean natural environment and the preservation of plants and animal life is universal. Only by enforcing these rights internationally can we transform those fine words on sustainability into deeds.’ The article does not clarify whether this plea reflects the Parliament’s institutional position.
Source: Trouw | 'Met een Milieugerechtshof kunnen we duurzaamheid afdwingen' (in Dutch only)
9 May 2012
Negotiations on the amount of money European Union (EU) member states will contribute to the ‘Green Climate Fund’ after 2012 (for the period 2013-2020) have been unsuccessful so far. In light of the economic crisis, some of the EU member states argue against any firm commitment to contribute to the Climate Fund after 2012.
The Green Climate Fund was established by international agreement within the framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aiming to provide financial support for developing States to cope with the effects of climate change. Although the aim of this fund was to raise up to 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, the EU member states have merely given a clear pledge for funding until the end of 2012.
Source: Reuters | EU nations get cold feet over climate change fund
22 May 2012
Over-consumption and over-population pose a threat to the future health of our planet, because they both threaten the biodiversity of the Earth. The Earth is put under severe stress according to the ‘Living Planet Report’, a biennial survey on the Earth’s health of The World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The report, appearing ahead of the June Rio plus 20 Summit, documents that since 1970, on an average, a 30% decrease in biodiversity has been noted, with even a 60% decrease in tropical regions. This decrease is notably more rapid in lower income countries.
Source: Al Jazeera | 'Over-consumption' threatening Earth
22 May 2012
After several states have criticised the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), now two airlines from India and eight airlines from China have refused to report to the European Union (EU) the amount of carbon dioxide they have emitted last year.
The ETS is applied to all airlines that use airports in the EU since January, aiming to charge carriers for the pollution they cause. Many states have criticised this system, on the ground that the EU would lack the power to enforce their laws on non-European carriers, or on the ground that the carbon tax which is imposed by the EU, is a “disguised” trade measure, taken unilaterally in the name of combatting climate change.
Source: BBC | Airlines 'are conforming' with EU rules on emissions
15 June 2012
On 13 June 2012, the fisheries ministers of the European Union (EU) agreed to ban the dumping of healthy and edible fish catches back into the sea, which is done by fishermen to remain within the EU quotas and to maximise profits. However, the starting dates of phasing in the ban for different species are subject to further negotiations.
Environmental campaigners urged European politicians to stop this wasteful practice. The agreed reforms, changing the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to eliminate the discards, are seen as an important step towards a sustainable fisheries policy. However, experts fear that these measures will come too late for certain fish stocks.
Source: The Guardian | Fishing discards practice thrown overboard by EU
Source: The Guardian | Will the fishing discard deal be enough to save fish stocks?
20 June 2012
Twenty years after the landmark Earth Summit, world leaders are meeting again in Rio de Janeiro to discuss issues of sustainable development from 20 to 22 June. Negotiators only agreed yesterday on a text for a final declaration to be signed later this week.
Source: BBC | Rio+20: Agreement reached, say diplomats
16 August 2012
The Government of Papua New Guinea has given the Canadian firm ‘Nautilus Minerals’ a 20-year licence to begin their so-called ‘Solwara 1’ project. This is the first commercial deep seabed mining project in the world, aiming to extract gold and copper from the seafloor beneath the Bismarck Sea. Locals and environmental activists have objected in view of the environmental impacts.
Source: The Guardian | Papua New Guinea's seabed to be mined for gold and copper
12 September 2012
On 8 September 2012, the United States and Russia signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in Antarctica and issued Joint Statements on Pursuing a Transboundary Area of Shared Beringian Heritage and on Enhancing Interregional Cooperation. The two countries already conduct some extensive and diverse scientific activities in Antarctica, and are among the original architects and signatories of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty.
Source: U.S. Department of State | U.S.-Russia Cooperation on Antarctica, Interregional Areas, and Beringia
6 December 2012
Rich countries are to blame for climate change and should take the lead in forging a global climate pact by 2015, a deadline that “must be met,” the head of the United Nations said on 5 December 2012. In addition, he said that it was “only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility” in fighting the gradual warming of the planet.
The comments were made as the Doha Climate Change Conference draws to a close on Friday 7 December 2012. It opened on Monday 26 November 2012 in Doha, Qatar to produce agreement on an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires later this year.
Source: Guardian | Ban Ki-moon: rich countries are to blame for global warming
7 December 2012
The New York Times reported that global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2, the most significant heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere) were at a record level in 2011. Researchers believe the global emissions of carbon dioxide are likely to hit record again in 2012, because efforts to limit emissions seem to be failing.
Due to continued increase of global emissions, the objective of limiting global warming is difficult to achieve.
Source: The New York Times | With Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Record High, Worries on How to Slow Warming
19 December 2012
The states parties to the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan) adopted a Protocol for the Protection of the Caspian Sea against Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities during the fourth Conference of the Parties (COP 4). According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Protocol will further enhance the co-operation on environmental matters in the region.
Source: UN News Centre | UN environment agency welcomes renewed commitment to protecting Caspian Sea
18 January 2013
The International Rivers Network published a report examining the legality of the controversial Xayaburi Hydropower Project undertaken by Laos on the Lower Mekong River. While Cambodia and Vietnam have voiced concerns about the project’s transboundary impacts, Thailand has financed the project and agreed to purchase its electricity.
Source: International Rivers | Xayaburi Dam: How Laos Violated the 1995 Mekong Agreement | Report by Kirk Herbertson | January 2013
Source: International Rivers | Xayaburi Dam: How Laos Violated the 1995 Mekong Agreement | Blog post by Kirk Herbertson | 13 January 2013
Source: VOA | Laos Dam Project Tests Credibility of Mekong River Commission
28 January 2013
The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has submitted a Congressionally mandated report identifying ten nations whose fishing vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2011 or 2012. The 10 states are Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Tanzania, and Venezuela. All ten nations identified in this year’s report had vessels that did not comply in 2011 and/or 2012 with conservation and management measures required under a regional fishery management organisation to which the US is a party. The report is part of the efforts of the United States to ensure that the US fishing industry is not undermined by unsustainable or illegal activities. The US will soon start consultations with each of the 10 nations to encourage them to take action to address IUU fishing and by-catch by their fishermen.
Source: Merco Press | US NOAA identifies 10 countries that conducted IUU fishing in 2011-12
7 March 2013
At the Conference of the Parties of the of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), eight states (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and China) were identified as key to the trade in ivory and were threatened with trade sanctions if they do not address failures in protection against poaching, and failures in seizing illegal ivory trade.
Six of these states are states which most ivory passes through (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam), the other two are the states were most ivory is bought (China and Thailand).
The news of threat of trade sanctions coincides with the publication of a report that details the increase in levels of poaching. The report concludes that illicit ivory trade activity and the weight of ivory behind this trade has more than doubled since 2007, and is over three times greater than it was in 1998.
Source: The Guardian | Two-thirds of forest elephants killed by ivory poachers in past decade
Source: UNEP, CITES, IUCN, TRAFFIC | Elephants in the Dust - The African Elephant Crisis | A Rapid Response Assessment
Source: The Miami Herald | Ivory trade nations face threat of sanctions
22 May 2013
Eight states (Thailand, China, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda and Viet Nam) which have been identified as primary source, import and transit countries affected by the illegal trade in ivory, have submitted national action plans to the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The plans contain among others specific activities in the areas of international and national enforcement, legislation and regulations, and were requested by the CITES Standing Committee because of the huge rise in the number of elephants that were poached for their ivory.
The eight countries that have submitted action plans are urged to take urgent measures to put their plans into practice before July 2014, when the CITES Standing Committee will review their implementation. The Secretariat will then provide the Standing Committee with its evaluation of the activities that have been conducted by each state, and will recommend potential further measures to intensify efforts in critical areas.
Two additional groups of states which need to adopt measures shortly have also been identified. First, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, Gabon, Mozambique and Nigeria will need to develop and begin implementing similar national action plans in order to combat illegal trade in ivory this year. Second, the Secretariat will be seeking clarification from Angola, Cambodia, Laos, Japan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on how they control trade in ivory.
For some background on this topic, see here.
Source: CITES | Press Release | Eight countries submit national action plans to combat illegal trade in elephant ivory