Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sturm College of Law Joins the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law has become a member of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.

According to the IUCN Academy, environmental legal education is an important contributor to the rule of law and to environmental governance. Environmental legal education is essential for achieving sustainable development, and can be delivered by means of:
Development and delivery of programs aimed at building university teaching capacity in environmental law;
Generation of global research programs with major partners to feed into national and international environmental law and policy agendas; and
Convening major international conferences and exchange through the efforts of its Secretariat and its electronic communications.
DU Law Prof. George (Rock) Pring, who was instrumental in DU's joining the academy, said, "It is exciting for DU to become an active member of the IUCN's Academy of Environmental Law, as it is the premier body of environmental law professors globally."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New "Environmental and Energy Insights" Blog Published by Stanford School of Law

The Stanford University School of Law has recently launched a new blog called "Environmental and Energy Insights." The insightful and timely blog, which is authored by several Stanford law professors, is well worth a look.

A recent posting, "Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Clean Air Act -- What's Next," is an excellent example of the type of content one can expect to read. This particular piece notes that the EPA's recent "endangerment finding" as related to greenhouse gases is simply a bargaining chip that may be used by an Obama Administration desirous of having the Congress reduce greenhouse gas emissions by legislation (a point this blog also has made in several previous postings).

In any case, if energy is your area I'd suggest bookmarking the Stanford blog.

(Muchas gracias a Sergio Stone por esta idea.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Renewable Energy "Webinar" Hosted by DU College of Law: Legal Challenges and Opportunities Discussed by National Experts

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law recently hosted an American Bar Association Standing Committee on Environmental Law sponsored "webinar" entitled, "Renewable Energy: Legal Challenges and Solutions for the Green Economy." The event, which included a panel of presenters who were physically located in the law school building, was broadcast over the web to locations all around the United States.

What made the event particularly remarkable was the extremely high quality of panelists and moderators, all of whom were from the Denver metropolitan area. In that sense, the event highlighted the growing importance of Denver -- and Colorado more generally -- in the development of the green energy economy.

The "cross country" gathering was welcomed by Associate Dean Fred Cheever, a well known environmental law professor in his own right. Dean Cheever was followed by moderator Howard Kenison, the former chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Environmental Law and a Denver-based partner in the firm of Lindquist Vennum LLP. Mr. Kenison, who is also a graduate of the DU College of Law and will serve as the law school "practitioner in residence" in the spring 2010 semester, introduced the impressive panel of speakers:
Mr. Futch noted the currently in Colorado 55 percent of the total electricity load is regulated by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, while 45 is not. Thus, he suggested that there is "no real leverage from a regulatory perspective" for nearly one-half of the state's electricity. He also asserted that "putting a price on carbon" is one of the key elements in promoting the development of renewable energy. "A high tax or price per ton of $60 or higher on carbon is required to move past incremental gains in renewable generation," he said.

David Hurlburt said there is a growing trend among states to identify renewable nergy zones, places that combine high quality renewable energy sources and can be developed with single, as opposed to multiple transmission lines. However, he noted that the legal landscape is "Balkanized between states and the federal government." Moreover, there are different strategies at state and federal levels about how to implement renewables.

John Herrick, who has taught (and continues to teach) "Renewable Energy Project Finance," at DU for the last 10 years, offered the view that "public-private partnerships" with respect to renewable energy projects will become more important as the economic stimulus funds begin to wind down. Moreover, Mr. Herrick said that transmission is a "huge issue" since renewable energy generation is of limited value unless transmission lines are available to transport electricity from generating sites to load centers. Finally he suggested that there is a "civil war" currently going on in the environmental community. On one side are those whose objective is clean energy. On the other side are some who are using the National Environmental Policy Act to "slow down" projects. It is not clear at this point which perspective might prevail, he said.

Frank Prager began by noting that Xcel is "preparing for a carbon-constrained economy." He said that in 2008 Xcel's generation portfolio included 13 percent renewable sources (primarily wind) and that by 2020 that number would grow to 25 percent. Currently Xcel owns 120 megawatts of renewable generating capacity, with the remainder of their renewable generation being purchased through power purchase agreements. Among the key questions that Xcel is facing include:
  • If there is a limited pool of "clean energy investment dollars," where should investments be made?
  • Currently state and federal renewable policies are beginning to overlap; they should be made seamless.
  • Future technology development related to renewable sources is a primary concern. "We have to have policies that encourage future investment," he said.
What was most striking to me -- beyond the actual issues discussed -- was the fact that the DU law school has on-going relations with nearly all of the speakers and their organizations, something that will only serve to benefit our program and future students. It is difficult to imagine being able to assemble such an impressive panel who live and do business in the same area anywhere else in North America.

The importance of challenges and opportunities associated with renewable energy are growing all over the nation, and especially in Colorado. Coupled with DU's range of externship opportunities, there is no better place to study about this increasingly important area than right here in the shadow of the front range of America's Rocky Mountains.

You can listen to the entire conference by clicking here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

An End, A Beginning: The Natural Rhythm of Our Professional Lives

On Friday December 18, 10 of our program's students moved from the status of "student" to the status of "graduate."

As the "December 2009 Graduate Recognition & Reception" took place in the law school forum, and family members, friends, professors and others assembled to celebrate the moment, I reflected on our graduate program students who completed their studies at the end of this semester. For me, it was a moment of enormous satisfaction for the students, their families, and all those who care about them. Without question, the students -- and those around them -- have invested much time and energy in their journey to this meaningful moment.

The diversity of this group was impressive indeed with graduating members of our "community" including students from Chile, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United States. Moreover, their dedication to hard work and commitment to improving how the world uses natural resources and protects our environment also were on my mind.

But most of all, I thought back to the first day that Lucy Daberkow, the assistant program director, and I met these women and men. Many came from long distances and have made significant sacrifices to pursue their dream of earning a degree from the University of Denver. Between the time they first arrived and now, each faced his or her own challenges, which often included both disappointments and successes. To be sure, we are extremely proud of all of them as a group and each of them as individuals.

I would not be honest if I said that there was not a slight bit of sadness in my heart as I thought about the beginning of courses next January and the reality that most of them would not be in Denver. In many instances, Lucy and I have had the enormous pleasure of welcoming them into our community and sharing with them the rhythms of life within this community. Children have been born. Couples have been married. Jobs have been obtained. Birthdays celebrated. Scholarships won.

Thus, put into a larger perspective the sadness that Lucy and I may have is soothed in large measure by knowing that while these individuals have ended one part of their lives (i.e., their education at DU), they are just beginning the next phase of their lives. And in this next phase, many -- if not all -- will make significant contributions to their chosen areas of environmental and natural resources work.

The sadness of an ending is balanced by the joy of a beginning, and the knowledge that what ties us together as a community is far stronger and enduring than any physical distance will ever represent.

We wish all of our graduates good health, much success, and a promise of working for a better future for all of us. Felicitaciones y buena suerte. Congratulations and good luck.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

China Becoming a Center for Green Technology?

The New Yorker magazine this week (Dec. 21 & 28, 2009, issue) has an article about the country that it says has taken the lead in clean energy technology.

The article must then be about the U.S. But it isn't. Then it must be an editing slip up and the article is talking not about a "country" per se, but about the economic powerhouse known as the European Union. Wrong again. Hum...Brazil maybe? Not a chance.

The country that the article ("Green Giant: Beijing's Crash Program for Clean Energy") refers to is China, and if you are interested in key developments in green energy then this article is a must read.

A few of the article's key observations:
"As [Chinese] President Hu Jintao...put it in October of this year, China must 'seize preemptive opportunities in the new round of the global energy revolution." (page 54)
"David Sandalow, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs, has been to China five times in five months. He [said], 'China's investment in clean energy is extraordinary.' For America, he added, the implication is clear: 'Unless the U.S. makes investments, we are not competitive in the clean-tech sector in the years and decades to come.'" (page 55)
"China is already buying and installing the world's most efficient transmission lines - 'an area where China has actually moved ahead of the U.S.,' according to Deborah Seligsohn, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute. In the next decade, China plans to install wind-power equipment capable of generating nearly five times the power of the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest producer [of power]." (page 56)
While the article points out that China is now spending $70 billion each year on research and development, it also explains that China has enormous energy challenges and it faces a pollution problem like no other country in the world.

If nothing else, the policy makers in Brussels and Washington, D.C., better be giving careful consideration to what Beijing is doing. On the other hand, the more innovation the better since ultimately does the market really care whether a good idea comes from China, Brazil, the EU, the U.S. or anywhere else?

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Convergence of Natural Resources Development and Climate Change Policy: Rio Tinto to Hire Climate Advisor

Over the past year, this blog has contained many posts illustrating the convergence of natural resources, environmental, and business-related issues.

This observation has been born out yet again with the announcement by Rio Tinto, one of the world's leading mining firms, that it is seeking to hire a Principal Advisor: Energy and Climate Strategy. The job's location is Rio Tinto's operations in London.

According to Rio Tinto the role involves:
  • Developing analysis about climate change related issues and the company's underlying business.
  • Identifying and supporting the development of new business opportunities involving climate change regulation and policies.
  • Working to integrate procedures to deal with climate change across the company's various operations including safety, finance, community, and biodiversity.
Among the requirements for job seekers are:
  • Strong analytical, research, and data handling skills.
  • Interest in climate change policy.
  • Knowledge of energy markets.
  • Self motivation.
The world is changing right before our eyes and in our own time. The challenges and opportunities reflect these changes.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

DU Law Professor Ved Nanda Says "Progress was Made" at UN Climate Change Conference

Prof. Ved Nanda, Thompson G. Marsh Professor of Law and Director of International Legal Studies Program at the University of Denver, is an individual with a global reputation for insight and fairness. Consequently, when Prof. Nanda speaks about an issue it behooves all of us to consider this wise man's perspective.

On today's Denver Post op-ed page, Prof. Nanda offers his observations about the just completed UN Climate Change Conference in a piece entitled, "Not all Lost at Copenhagen Climate Talks." Everyone interested in the international policy aspects of the climate change issue should take time to read Prof. Nanda's sage observations.

Among other things, Prof. Nanda said:
"The conference's shortcomings have made climate change skeptics happy. But, this accord, while watered down, must be welcomed. If the Copenhagen meeting had adjourned without even this framework document, it would have been potentially disastrous, as the momentum of the last 10 years would have come to naught. Although total failure was avoided, the need will be to pursue the initiative with vigor. The United States and China, especially, need to work together with the newly emerging countries and the European Union so there can be a legally binding treaty next year."
When trying to understand a complex issue, there is no substitute for the perspective that can be offered by an experienced and respected voice. That is why what Prof. Nanda says is so important.

Author Elizabeth Economy, Expert on Chinese Environmental Issues, to Speak at DU in February

Dr. Elizabeth C. Economy, an expert on Chinese environmental issues and C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, will speak about "China's Environmental Future" on February 9 at 7 p.m. in the Gates Concert Hall at the Newman Center at the University of Denver. Dr. Economy's remarks are free and open to the public.

She is the author of the award winning book, "The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future." To RSVP for the event, please click here.

This event will be an exceptional opportunity for the DU community to learn more about the fascinating and vexing environmental issues being faced by the world's largest (in terms of population) country. What is going on in China will ultimately have an impact on everyone in the world, and consequently the more one knows about China and its challenges and opportunities, the better one can position him or herself to be part of the future.

I heartily encourage anyone interested in China to attend what will certainly be an interesting and informative presentation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reception Honoring December 2009 Graduates: Congratulations and Good Luck!

Recently the graduate program honored our December 2009 graduates with a reception at the DU law school. It was a wonderful evening enjoyed by nearly 60 graduates, current students, alums, professors, and other friends of our community.

These pictures illustrate the goodwill and camaraderie shared by all those who attended. A particular point of pride for all of us associated with the program is the vast diversity of our community. There were graduates at the reception from the following countries: Chile, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. And there were current students from the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, and the United States. And to top things off, we also had alums and other friends of the community from these countries: Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the U.S.

It was a wonderful evening, which captured the community-minded nature of our students, alums, professors, and friends. Moreover, it was a vivid example of the vast diversity of our program, which includes students from every continent on the globe as well as students from the length and breadth of North America.

Two observations that I can make with all manner of confidence: Environmental and natural resources law and policy challenges and opportunities know no political or geographic boundaries. Moreover, the world's "best and the brightest" have chosen to study at the DU law school. Celebrations such as the one we enjoyed at this event remind all of us of the enduring nature of our broad community, and how resolving the issues that bring us together will always be compelling for the world at large.

A special thank you to Lucy Daberkow, assistant program director, who organized what was indeed a truly splendid evening. And also a thank you to Mochamad Kasmali, a December 2009 graduate from Indonesia, who supplied all of the photos in this posting.

Monday, December 21, 2009

UN Copenhagen Conference: Success, Failure, or Something in Between?

The dust is just now settling from the UN Climate Change Conference, which ended its run last Saturday. Looking back -- admittedly with the benefit of just two days -- did the conference accomplish what it intended to do? Was it a success? Or a big disappointment?

Views are all over the board. Not surprisingly, the word from 1600 Pennsylvania in Washington, D.C. is that the conference conclusions were a "breakthrough [that] will lay the foundation for international action in the years to come." It seems rather "rich" to call the results a "breakthrough," at least if one had been expecting some sort of firm agreement with ambitious and enforceable targets.

An editorial in today's New York Times ("Copenhagen, and Beyond," Dec. 21, 2009) wrote in part, "The global climate negotiations in Copenhagen produced neither a grand success nor the complete meltdown that seemed almost certain as late as Friday afternoon [of last week.]" The editorial goes on to argue that, "For the moment it is worth savoring the steps forward. China is now a player in the effort to combat climate change in a way that it has never been...And the United States is very much back in the game too. After eight years of playing the spoiler, it is now a leader with a president who seems to embrace the role."

From across the Atlantic, a more somber tone was generally in evidence. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose government is serving as the current president of the EU, said, "Let's be honest. This is not a perfect agreement. It will not solve the climate threat."

The Economist put it more bluntly: "Even its biggest fans -- if such people exist -- would be hard put to find the Copenhagen Accord on the climate a rousing success." ("Better Than Nothing," Dec. 19, 2009). Moreover, The Economist offered its view (one that I believe we will be hearing much more about) that the overall process was nearly a flop: "The UNFCCC process...looks in need of some serious attention."

Finally, the Financial Times offered this perspective today: "As the meeting ended, Barack Obama was calling the Copenhagen accord -- the emptiest deal one could imagine, short of a fist fight -- an 'important breakthrough.' Mr. Obama's credibility at home and abroad is one casualty of this farcical outcome." ("Dismal Outcome at Copenhagen Fiasco," Dec. 21, 2009).

The big disappointment from today's review of various newspapers is the fact that The Wall Street Journal editorial team had nothing to say about Copenhagen. But that is not entirely a surprise since the Journal devoted its entire editorial column today to lambasting a cobbled together health bill that the U.S. Senate seems poised to approve. Nevertheless, the Journal will undoubtedly chime in very soon.

Is the U.S. Moving Closer to a Carbon Constrained Economy?

Despite an old American foreign policy tradition of telling other countries how to run their own affairs and the necessity of different sides of an issue acting in a civil manner, politics in America is not exactly a "no contact" sport. In fact, one battle now raging in Washington, D.C., is how greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced in the U.S. And there is going to be plenty of contact as Washington considers the various available alternatives.

In some ways, it is rather fitting that the U.S. now faces the issue of what to do and how to do it. For years, the Europeans, who have in place the world's only major emissions trading reduction program, have practically begged the U.S. to do something. Even China is making noises about doing something (although it is worth noting that China does a lot of "noise making" in Beijing, but often the actual implementation gets lost out in the provinces). But, alas, nothing has been forthcoming from America, although the U.S. may now be on the precipice of doing something. The question now is will that "something" be through regulation or through legislation? No one is quite sure today. But the method of reducing emissions makes a big different to the various affected constituencies.

On one hand, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that would reduce carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade system (as well as several other concepts such as instituting a national renewable energy standard). The U.S. House, as reported in this blog in June, has passed a cap-and-trade bill, albeit one punched full of holes for all sorts of special interests. A similar measure is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate, although the powerful "status quo" lobbies (e.g., many big unions, the fossil fuel interests, etc.) are assisting their friends in the Senate (generally those who reap huge political support from these groups) "understand" their side of the matter. Among the friends of the status quo are such luminaries as the two Democratic Senators from West Virginia, the two Republicans from Wyoming, and a vast array of other senators and representatives.

Businesses and policy wonks are watching closely what sort of legislative (if any) measure comes out because of the likely inclusion of a cap-and-trade scheme where regulated businesses can sell and buy emissions allowances on an as-needed basis. (This approach is called a market-based approach, which is contrasted to a regulatory-based command and control approach.)

On the other hand, the Obama Administration's EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has recently defined greenhouse gas emissions as dangerous to public health, thus setting the stage for the EPA to regulate these emissions. In this context, the federal Clean Air Act will provide the statutory basis for reducing emissions. With no small amount of boasting in her voice, Ms. Jackson announced that this decision "cements 2009's place in history as the year when the U.S. government began seriously addressing the challenges of greenhouse gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean energy reform." However, if the U.S. follows this approach (rather than the legislative one), cap-and-trade will not be part of the program.

Where do various interests and observers line up?

Many U.S. electric utility executives would prefer a legislative approach that includes cap-and-trade. For example, David Ratcliffe, chief executive of the large electricity generator Southern Company, said last week, "A carbon bill [legislation] would give more clarity to what you need to do and when." ("EPA's Carbon Proposal Riles Industries," The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 8, 2009). Frank Prager, vice president for environmental policy at Xcel Energy, has also voiced support for a cap and trade solution, particularly with respect to Xcel's renewable energy initiatives. "From our perspective, a flexible market-based program would do a much better job in allowing us to bring renewable energy on-line," Mr. Prager told National Public Radio recently ("Companies Weigh Climate Laws Over EPA Rules," Morning Edition, Dec. 17, 2009).

Across the Atlantic, the EU appears to be situated somewhere between relief that the U.S. will do something and disappointment that it is not enough. For instance, the Financial Times' editorial page, which is often a proxy for European views, wrote recently, "The prospect of EPA action will focus minds in Congress and make passage of cap-and-trade more likely" ("A Changed Climate for Copenhagen," Dec. 8, 2009). However, the FT editorial also made this sage observation: "The EPA's new posture is...a mixed blessing. As the administration knows, an old-fashioned regulatory approach to carbon mitigation is certain to be far more costly than cap-and-trade...since it lacks a market-based mechanism to apportion the curbs efficiently."

If the FT editorial page can be seen as a proxy for European interests, the Wall Street Journal editorial and op-ed pages can nearly always to be counted on to boost their perception of U.S. interests. Recently Kimberly Strassel, who writes the "Potomac Watch" op-ed column for the Journal, panned the EPA's move towards regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Ms. Strassel wrote, "From the start, the Obama team has wielded the EPA action as a club, warning Congress that if it did not come up with cap-and-trade legislation the EPA would act on its own -- and in a far more blunt fashion than Congress preferred" ("The EPA's Carbon Bomb Fizzles," Dec. 11, 2009). Then Ms. Strassel went on to offer an interesting -- and perhaps prescient -- observation: "Bottom line: At least some congressional Democrats view [the EPA's announcement] as breathing room, a further reason to not tackle a killer issue in the run-up to next year's election...[Mr. Obama's] real problem is getting Congress to act, and his EPA move may have just made that job harder."

And to make things even more curisor, in a nod to Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" (or "Alice in Washington" as the case may be), Alaska Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski has announced her intention to introduce a resolution aimed at overturning the EPA's finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health. According to Sen. Murkowski, "I remain committed to reducing emissions through a policy that will protect our environment and strengthen our economy, but EPA's backdoor climate regulations achieve neither of those goals. EPA regulation must be taken off the table so that we can focus on more responsible approaches to dealing with global climate change." What are the Senator's ideas for "more responsible approaches?" It is not entirely clear. But she went on to say, "Upon introduction, a disapproval resolution is referred to the committee of jurisdiction, which in this case will be the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. If the committee does not favorably report the resolution within 20 calendar days, it may be discharged upon petition by 30 Senators. Once a disapproval resolution is placed on the Senate calendar, it is then subject to expedited consideration on the Senate floor, and not subject to filibuster."

The debate can and will go on and on. For now all we know for sure is that the U.S. will do something. If the Congress does not act, then the administration -- through its EPA administrator -- will regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The stage is now set.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Final Post From the UN Climate Change Conference: Dr. Anita Halvorssen Assesses What Was and Was Not Accomplished

All week Dr. Anita Halvorssen has been reporting from the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Here is today's final report:

At the final, tumultuous Plenary meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC at their 15th session (COP15), the Parties agreed to "take note" of the Climate Accord, the deal brokered by President Obama together with leaders from India, Brazil, South Africa, and China last night. Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Sudan objected to the "note." The accord still needs to be formally approved by the Parties.

Highlights from the Climate Accord include the limit of a two degree Celcius increase in global temperature rise, the 30 billion dollars for developing countries for adaptation between 2010 and 2012, 100 billion dollars starting 2020 to be mobilized for developing countries to be used for mitigation and adaptation, and the establishment of the Reduction of Deforestation and Forest Degredation (REDD plus) mechanism and a technology mechanism.

Many participants at COP-15 were not thrilled with the new Climate Accord, since it is not a binding agreement and there are no binding emission reduction cuts for developed countries or mitigation action for developing countries. The small island states in the Pacific are not happy with the two degree limit on the temperature rise because they may well become submerged as a result, but compared to walking out empty-handed, I think COP-15 has taken us one step closer to the goal of the UNFCCC which is to stabilize the greenhouse gases (GHGs) to a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human caused) interference with the climate system.

It is just two years ago since the IPCC in its fourth assessment report (AR4) determined the 2 degree limit was where we needed to be, now the international community has accepted the limit - that has to be progress. The fact that 119 world leaders came to Copenhagen shows that the international community understands the seriousness of climate change. I think we are headed in the right direction, slowly, but surely.

The next meetings will take place in Bonn in June of 2010, and COP-16 will be in Mexico the second week of November in 2010.

Dr. Halvorssen, who teaches at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, has attended the proceedings for the Prof. Ved Nanda Center for the Study of International Law. Her participation was accredited by the American Society of International Law.

Danish family member and Dr. Anita Halvorssen walking on Strøget - the world´s oldest pedestrian street.

Rosenborg - 1630s.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Today's Report From the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

Dr. Anita Halvorssen reports from today's proceedings at the the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen:

We all woke up quite hopeful when we heard the news that a high-level meeting of 26 heads of state and others negotiated until 2am this morning at the Bella Center. They had agreed on a draft text, the Copenhagen Accords, that still had to be accepted by other Parties. There was agreement on limiting the increase in global temperatures to two degree Celsius from the pre-industrial levels. Developed countries agreed to "support the goal of mobilizing" $100 billion for helping developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. The text still not been made publicly available.

At noon there was an Informal High Level Meeting. The Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, upon opening the meeting, stated that the Parties have to look beyond Copenhagen. China’s Premier, Wen Jiabao, said China would cut its emissions intensity by 40-45% by 2020, from 2005 levels. The Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said Brazil would reduce its emission intensity by 36.1% to 38.9% by 2020 and reduce destruction of Amazon rainforest by 80% by 2020, costing Brazil $166 billion. Common but differentiated responsibility should be the guiding principle, Lula said. Countries contributing funds, have a right to demand transparency and compliance, but need to be careful of not intervening in developing countries. Lula said Brazil was willing to sacrifice even more to help other countries. Brazil is willing to participate in the financing piece if there is an agreement, Lula said.

The United States President, Barak Obama, said we must act together, agree to certain steps, and hold each other accountable. He said that all major economies need to put forward targets. The US will reduce its emissions by 17% by 2020. Furthermore, Obama said we must have mechanism to review that the reductions are actually carried out, not intrusive, but ensuring that the accord is credible. Finally, Obama said that regarding financing to help developing countries adapt to climate change, the US will contribute $10billion until 2012 and $100 billion by 2020.

Japan’s Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, said that Japan is willing to contribute $15 billion up to 2012 , $11 billion of it in public funds. He said we have to rise above our diverse national interests to save the planet and our children.

A new round of negotiations, a High Level Meeting began at 4:30pm, with Parties from 26 countries participating. As of 10:30pm there were no conclusions to the negotiations.

The one point the Parties seem to have agreed upon on is the 2 degree limit on the temperature rise. It is being called the Copenhagen Outcome. The most contentious issue is whether China will agree to transparency in fulfilling its commitments, which the US insists upon. There is also disagreement over the timing and extent of emissions cuts, but 80% by 2050 is the goal that has long been mentioned. The plan of adopting a legally binding treaty on climate change next year has been abandoned.

To be continued tomorrow!

Dr. Halvorssen, who teaches at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, is attending the proceedings for the Prof. Ved Nanda Center for the Study of International Law and accredited by the American Society of International Law.

The NGO Forum at the Climate Change conference.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Observations from the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

This week Dr. Anita Halvorssen has been reporting from the UN Climate Change Conference in Denmark. Today's posting and pictures follow:

Due to capacity problems at the Bella Center, a new venue, the Forum, was reserved for the NGOs that do not have access to the Bella Center. As I did not win the lottery for access cards to get into the COP-15 venue, the Forum (see picture below) is my new meeting place for the last two days of the conference.

The Parties to the UNFCCC seem to be in agreement on the financing side of the COP-15 negotiations. Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, on behalf of the African countries, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, among others, have all announced that the developed countries will contribute $100 billion to help developing countries address mitigation and adaptation issues starting 2020. This was one of the biggest sticking points of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention.

Side Event: The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) arranged a panel entitled Fair Climate: US Constituencies’ Perspectives. It was hosted by Bellona, a Norwegian NGO. Gloria Reuben, from ‘ER’, an Emmy nominated actress and climate change activist talked about the negative ramifications of mountain top removal coal mining in Virginia. Jerome Ringo, President of Apollo Alliance, stated that climate change is much more than the COP-15 Conference, it is about tomorrow, it is about humanity. Jerome said “Ten to twenty years from now, what will we say to our children and grandchildren when they ask, 'You were at Copenhagen. What did you do?'”

John Grant, NWF Board member, CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, emphasized the right to have a healthy, sustainable environment. Look to, not just the near term, but a hundred years from now, what can we do to enable human sustainability a thousand years from now. Alabama had a terrible drought, the governor prayed for rain. In Africa, women walk all day to find water. Ask yourselves every day, he said: “What am I going to do today to create a healthier planet?” The goods we buy and vehicles we drive need to be carbon neutral. “We need to hold each other individually accountable,” he stated.

Jackie Patterson, NAACP Climate Justice Initiative Director, spoke of heightened vulnerability of women. Regarding climate change, gender studies show that women are more impacted than men by environmental disasters. Women who are more likely to be poor, will be more exposed to displacement due to climate change.

The final speaker, Bob Gruenig, National Tribal Environment Council stated that you can tell the character of a country’s leaders by the way they treat their indigenous peoples. Many of these people are being affected by climate change. Southwest of the US, the native American tribes are seeing their water sources drying up due to climate change. In Kivalina, Alaska, the village has to move due to the ice off the coast having melted, enabling the ocean to erode the coastline. It will cost $100-400 million to relocate the people.

Addressing a question from the audience on how to deal with the climate skeptics in the US, the panelist said this was a big problem, but that most Americans wanted action on climate change. The message needs to be simple, that it’s an investment in the future, yes there will be costs, but there are bigger costs of inaction.

Dr. Halvorssen, who teaches at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, is attending the proceedings for the Prof. Ved Nanda Center for the Study of International Law and accredited by the American Society of International Law.

From outside the conference: A little snow does not keep the Danes from bicycling.

Hiring News: LLM Graduate Andy Lubner Begins Work for the U.S. National Park Service

Andy Lubner, 2009 DU LLM graduate, is employed as a junior contract specialist with the U.S. National Park Service. Here's a recent note from Andy: "I am currently in the Utilities Division working with renewable energy. The National Park Service has a plethora of distributed generation solar projects going on and I am working to execute net metering/interconnection agreements between the NPS and the utilities."

He goes to to describe the projects as "very cool" and notes that what he learned at DU "has been really useful with constant application of my specialized knowledge." Andy is based in Lakewood, Colorado.

Best wishes from all of us at DU to Andy, one of our proud graduates and an individual who will without question make significant contributions in his chosen field.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dr. Anita Halvorssen Reports From the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

Dr. Anita Halvorssen, an adjunct professor at the Sturm College of Law, is reporting from Copenhagen about the proceedings at the UN Climate Change Conference for the Prof. Ved Nanda Center for the Study of International law and accredited by the American Society of International Law. Dr. Halvorssen's third report from the conference follows:

Just one hour wait in the cold today, to get into the Bella Center, getting in the queue by 6:45am. Not just NGOs, but even nations states' delegates, from Indonesia and Russia, among others, have been turned away in the last couple of days because the Bella Center has been packed to capacity.

Attending one of the many Side Events, I went to one that covered energy access and poverty alleviation focusing on reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience. One of the slides in the presentation showed projections for Africa and Asia having the largest mortality rates as a result of climate change – quite disturbing. Down one of the hallway there was a commotion. It was the indigenous peoples protesting that their needs have to be taken into account in the climate change negotiation. They were headed for the exit.

For lunch I was joined by two of Tanzania’s delegates. We were discussing the news regarding the finance for developing countries mitigation and especially adaptation that is being discussed at the high level meetings. The EU had mentioned over seven billion Euro’s, whereas Africa has stated that five hundred billion dollars is what is needed. We talked about the situation in Tanzania. They get a lot of their energy from hydro power and the water levels in the reservoirs are sinking due to drought.

Another side event I attended was a presentation about the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Programme) with a case study from Guatemala. The government is establishing the legal framework for a REDD program, which include the Rainforest Alliance and other NGOs. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is also involved, focusing on conservation and improved forest management. One of the problems for Guatemala is that in the biosphere areas there is still deforestation going on.

Many of the press conferences and speeches by the heads of state are streamed live over the ‘’ website. U.S. Senator John Kerry, Democrat-Massachusett, for instance, stated in a press conference at the Bella Center that carbon pricing is inevitable if we are to tackle climate change, whether it be in the form of a tax or carbon trading. Many NGO participants have not gotten tickets, me included, for the plenary meetings, so they watch them on big and small screens all over the Bella Center. The small island states, in their speeches at the plenary meeting are one after the other practically begging for funding.

Pictures from Copenhagen:

Youth protesting in the atrium

Participants watching live coverage of plenary meeting

Tanzanian delegates

Plenary Room II: Meeting of COP15

Season's Greetings and Best Wishes for 2010! Feliz Navidad y un Próspero Año Nuevo Desde Denver!

Lucy and I send our very best wishes to all of you as we approach the holidays and the end of 2009.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dr. Anita Halvorssen Reports From Copenhagen on the UN Climate Change Conference

Dr. Anita Halvorssen, who teaches the "Law of Sustainable Development and Trade" and "Global Climate Change Law and Policy" at the Sturm College of Law, is in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week as part of the University of Denver's Ved Nanda Center for the Study of International Law (and accredited by the American Society of International Law) coverage of the UN Climate Change Conference, which runs from Dec. 7-18, 2009.

The following is her second post from the meeting:
Arriving at the the NGO accreditation queue at 6:40am, I finally got into the Bella Center building at 8:40am and two and a half hours later I had my badge and secondary card which you need to access the events at the fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15).

There are lots of events going on at the same time at COP-15. First, I attended the Contact Group for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA). The latest draft text of AWG-LCA was presented by the Chairman of the Contact Group and was commented on by delegates of nation states only. The text has been whittled down from 188 pages to 7 pages. The draft text will not be a clean text by the end of the day (meaning it will have some of the disputed text in brackets) but will be presented to the COP-15.

I spent some time on a presentation by some scientists from Norway that have published a report on the melting of snow and ice in the polar regions due to climate change and its impacts on the regions - the forecast is not promising. The sub-national groups tackling climate change in the US and Canada - twenty-three states and provinces in all - gave a good presentation of how they have taken action without waiting for their respective governments to act.
Sub groups in the US and Canada giving their presentations.

Dr. Halvorssen, second from left, and members of NGOs from Germany, Norway, South Korea, Spain, and the United States.

Photo of attrium where conference participants eat and relax.

South American participants.

The Economist Magazine Reports on "Nuclear's Next Generation"

There is considerable interest stretching from China to the United Kingdom and nearly everywhere in between about new nuclear power plants. A special report in this week's Economist magazine ("Nuclear's Next Generation," Dec. 12, 2009) provides an excellent overview of six new concepts for building nuclear power stations. In addition to describing the new concepts the report also compares how the new concepts differ from today's typical nuclear reactors.

There are, of course, positives and negatives that have to be weighed in the decision about whether to build almost any type of energy generating system. Nuclear, to be sure, has its own range of positives and negatives. But to the extent that the world embraces a carbon constrained economy (and it's still too early to know for sure), nuclear is going to play a role. For example, just ask left of center U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown who recently has enthusiastically embraced nuclear power.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dr. Anita Halvorssen Reports From Copenhagen

Dr. Anita Halvorssen, who teaches "Global Climate Change Law and Policy" and "Sustainable Development and Trade" at the Sturm College of Law, is in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week as part of the University of Denver's Ved Nanda Center for the Study of International Law (and accredited by the American Society of International Law) coverage of the UN Climate Change Conference, which runs from Dec. 7-18, 2009.

Here is Dr. Halvorssen's report on her first day at the conference:
The first day, was disappointing. I waited seven and a half hours in the freezing cold, but still didn't get into the conference venue because they stopped letting people in due to the organizers having underestimated the number of people that would show up. 30.000 people have gotten invitations, but there is only room for 15.000 people at the Bella Conference Center. Did meet a lot of interesting people; A high school student from Wales, a woman journalist from Greece, a Portuguese man working for the European Energy Council, and some of the delegates from Suriname.
Stay tuned for more reports during the week.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Open Energy Information Website Launched by U.S. Department of Energy

A new open-source web platform that will allow free access to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) resources as well as allow the energy community to upload additional data was launched last week. Over time, the DOE expects that the website will also include technical expert networks and on-line training.

Open Energy Information includes data and tools that will be used by project developers, the private sector, government officials, the international community and others. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is part of the DOE, the website's information will "help deploy clean energy technologies across the country and around the world."

Among other information, the website "currently houses more than 60 clean energy resources and data sets, including maps of worldwide solar and wind potential, information on climate zones, and best practices," NREL said.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

LLM Student and Environmental Law Clinic Bluemel Scholar Leandra Zanqueta Appears Before Inter-American Commission in Washington, D.C.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) recently held a public hearing about the impacts on human rights and the environment caused by large dams in Latin America.

Leandra Zanqueta, a Brazilian lawyer and DU LLM student (second from right in the picture), was one of six presenters at the hearing. Ms. Zanpueta appeared at the hearing in her capacity as the "DU Environmental Law Clinic-LLM International Scholar.

Ms. Zanqueta's summary of the hearing follows:
The hearing was requested by the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), an organization that the DU clinic represents, and International Rivers with the support of more 40 other organizations. The AIDA’s presentation was based on its report, “Large Dams in the Americas: Is the Cure Worse than the Disease?” which explores the environmental and social damage caused by large dams that do not comply with international standards required to protect the environment and human rights.

The presenters’ objective was to advise and educate the IACHR, governments, international financial institutions (because of their financial support of dam projects), and policy-makers about the violations. In addition, the hearing represented a public tool to alert the international community to the importance of the environmental and social impact assessments that have been disregarded in these infrastructure projects. As a result, the petitioners were hoping to convince the global community – and the IACHR in particular – to pay more attention to the matter, while also delivering strong recommendations to the states in order to encourage them to respect the international rules.

We spoke about the most common environmental problems generated by large dams, such as inundation of strategic ecosystems, alteration of the natural flows of water, disruption of wildlife habitat, obstruction the migratory paths of diverse fish species, contribution to the climate change and global warming through the emission of greenhouse gases, contamination of potable water, and seismic effects among others. Meanwhile, from the human rights side, the most common violations identified were forced displacement of vulnerable communities (usually indigenous, of Afro-descendant, and poor farming populations), the loss of food sources and livelihoods, health risk, lack of access to information, lack of public consultation, failure in
giving fair compensation, criminalization of social protests, threats, among others.
The other members of the delegation were:
  • Rafael Gonzáles Ballar, Costa Rican lawyer with many years of experience in environmental protection and human rights, AIDA’s vice-president.
  • Shannon Lawrence, International assessor for the International Rivers (International ONG) who works on promoting social and environmental standards, as well alternatives to development of water and energy.
  • Gabriel Espinoza, a Catholic priest who lives in an affected area by the Zapotilho Mega Dam in Mexico.
  • Astrid Puentes, Colombian lawyer and co-director of AIDA since 2004.
  • Jacob Kopas, lawyer graduated from Harvard who works for AIDA.
Prof. Mike Harris, Director of the Environmental Law Clinic, said, "Leandra's work is vitally important to AIDA's mission to protect the environment in Latin American by assisting local indigenous communities. As the first Erik B. Bluemel International Environmental Law Scholar at the University, her work is also improving the reputation of law school's environmental and natural resources programs on the international stage."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Adjunct Prof. William J. Brady Featured in RePowerAmerica Web Site

Adjunct Prof. William J. Brady is featured in a posting on the RePowerAmerica website where he wishes the attendees at the Copenhagen UN Climate Change Conference "Godspeed and good luck."

Prof. Brady, who is a partner at the Denver firm of Grimshaw & Harring PC, is shown here on horseback in a picture taken with his daughter Stephanie several years ago at his family's farm.

In his posting, Prof. Brady writes:
The world's eyes are upon Copenhagen. The importance of your discourse and recommendations will provide policy direction to nations and NGOs for our future, and that of our children's children. Colorado and Denver joins the world in standing shoulder to shoulder with you as you wrestle with the challenge of providing a safe planet for all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

DU Externship Program: Working With Dynamic Leaders and Organizations in the Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Fields

One key aspect of the DU graduate program experience is the opportunity students have to work as externs in the environmental, natural resources, and energy fields. In many instances, students work with key leaders and organizations who are helping shape future policies and law. Students make great contacts while they are learning about the day-to-day work that goes on in these dynamic fields. In short, externship experiences complement what students learn in the classroom.

Ann Vessels, Director of the College of Law Externship Program and formerly in-house counsel at a major U.S. natural resources company, has worked hand-in-hand with Prof. George (Rock) Pring to carry on the highly-respected externship program that he developed over many years. Today Prof. Vessels and I constantly talk about about new externships.

Among the organizations that have recently had DU interns include:

  • Colorado State Attorney General's Office
  • Department of the Interior
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Conference of State Legislatures
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Non-governmental Organizations
  • Private Law Firms

    And there are many, many more.

    Recently Prof. Vessels and I spoke about the externship program. After watching Prof. Vessels (click here to see the video), I believe you will agree that the availability of the externship program is yet another reason the DU graduate program is widely regarded as a premier environmental and natural resources program.
  • Monday, December 7, 2009

    Special Section About Climate Change in The Economist

    Those of you preparing to follow the events at the UN Climate Change Conference, which begins in Copenhagen today, may want to take a close look at a special report in this week's Economist magazine (Dec. 5-11).

    "Getting warmer: A special report on climate change and the carbon economy," contains a great deal of information and analysis about where the world finds itself as the Copenhagen discussions begin. To be sure, from an editorial standpoint The Economist makes clear that it thinks that climate change is taking place and that it is caused (in large measure) by humans. But on the other hand, no one (at least no reasonable person) is going to effectively make the case that somehow The Economist is a tool of environmental campaigners. In fact, many people in the UK (where it is based) see The Economist as a reliable (and somewhat stuffy) voice for business interests.

    In any case, it is well worth having this special report in your library if climate change is a matter of interest.

    And speaking of Copenhagen, in the next few weeks this blog will include postings from Anita Halvorssen, a DU adjunct professor, who is attending the meetings. Stay tuned for Dr. Halvorssen's commentary. Beginning in January 2010, Dr. Halvorssen will be teaching "Global Climate Change" at DU.

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    DU LLM Student Carolina Crespo Wins Prestigious Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholarship

    Carolina (Caro) Crespo, an LLM student from Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been awarded a 2010 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes students who have the "potential to make significant contributions to the field," according to the Foundation, which received a record number of applications this year.

    The scholarships are particularly coveted by students since the Foundation is one of the world's mostly highly regarded groups of professionals working in the mineral law sector. In fact, there is no more highly acclaimed organization of its kind in the Western Hemisphere than the Foundation.

    Ms. Crespo started the LLM program in August 2009 and intends to graduate in May 2010. She is an attorney with the highly respected Buenos Aires-based firm Estudio Beccar Varela.

    In winning the scholarship, Ms. Crespo follows a significant line of recent DU LLM students who have won scholarships. Katia Castillo (LLM 2008), from Lima, Peru, and Marina Marti (LLM 2008), from Buenos Aires, won scholarships in 2008. And then earlier this year, Soudeh Mollasalehi (LLM 2010) from Tehran, Iran, won a scholarship.

    To say that we are delighted with Carolina's recognition is an understatement. Indeed we are thrilled with her recognition and what it says about her future in the natural resources industry. Moreover, it is with great pride that we also call attention to Ms. Castillo, Ms. Marti, and Ms. Mollasalehi, since their achievements also point to the diversity and strength of our students.

    Felicitaciones a Carolina! (Congratulations to Carolina!) And congratulations to Katia, Marina, and Soudeh!

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Major New Environmental/Natural Resources Course Series for 2010 Announced: "Sustainable Natural Resources Development Series"

    In 2010 the Sturm College of Law will launch a cutting-edge series of courses entitled the "Sustainable Natural Resources Development Series," which will be taught by an exceptional group of internationally-recognized experts.

    The "one of its kind" series (the courses, each three credits, can be taken individually or in sequence) will focus on the vexing -- yet fascinating in terms of potentially positive outcomes -- issues associated with the development of natural resources. Put simply, how can natural resources be developed in a manner that respects environmental and social concerns?

    The courses will be held on this schedule: Recently I met with Luke Danielson, a world renown expert and one of the lead adjunct professors in the series, to talk about what sustainable natural resources development means and what will be covered in the three courses he will play a role in. By coincidence, Luke and I met in Leadville, Colorado, about 160 kilometers or 100 miles west of Denver in the central Colorado mountains. The site of the meeting was perhaps somewhat symbolic (although we did not think about this when setting the meeting) since Leadville was a major mining center in Colorado in the late 1800s and at one time was the largest city in Colorado. As such, Leadville has been through a series of up and downs, related to the market for minerals, while also experiencing its share of environmental and social challenges related to the natural resources industry. In the picture above, you will see Luke standing in front of the National Mining Hall of Fame Museum, which is located in Leadville.

    This series of courses will be of interest to a wide range of students and professionals involved in various fields including (but not limited to) law, accounting, finance, mining, oil and gas, engineering, and human rights.

    In an effort to more fully explain the rationale for the series as well as what each course will cover, Luke and I produced a series of videos as follows:
    • My introduction to the series can be accessed by clicking here.

    • Luke's overview of sustainable development in natural resources is available here.

    • Luke's descriptions of the individual courses can be seen here: course one, course two, course three.
    More information about course four, an experiential course that will be led by Prof. Ann Vessels, the director of DU's highly regarded externship program, will be available soon.

    I would highly encourage anyone -- JD, LLM, MRLS or any other professionals or graduate students -- interested in these topics to seriously consider joining us in Denver for this series of courses. The first three courses will be offered in a "short-course format," that is to say one week of intense study. The fourth offering, the experiential course, will be offered in the fall 2010 semester.

    A text overview of the series can be accessed by clicking here.

    Please feel free to contact me at or graduate program Assistant Director Lucy Daberkow at for more information on what promises to be an exceptional learning experience.

    "Erik B. Blumel International Environmental Law Scholar" Applications Being Accepted

    The Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law is seeking applicants for the position of "2010-2011 Erik B. Bluemel International Environmental Law Scholar." This position is open to recent law graduates (U.S. or foreign) interested in pursuing a Master of Laws (LLM) in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy with a focus on international environmental law and human rights. International students are especially encouraged to apply.


    The Erik B. Bluemel International Environmental Law Scholar was created to celebrate the life of DU Law Prof. Erik B. Bluemel, who passed away in May 2009. Prof. Bluemel strongly supported legal advocacy and research regarding the impact of human-induced environmental degradation on the lives of indigenous peoples around the world. The selected scholar will work directly with an international non-profit client and extensively study the effects of development activity on the environment and human rights. The specific project will be tailored to the needs of the client and the interest of the student, and may include consideration of the effects of hydroelectric development, fishery degradation, climate change, agriculture, human conflict, or resource extraction. By working with international environmental groups, such as EcoJustice or the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), the Bluemel Scholar will gain both practical and scholarly experience that will enrich their understanding of their chosen topic.

    In this one-year program, the scholar is tasked with two specific objectives:
    • First, the student will support the client’s on-the-ground advocacy efforts on behalf of the environment and human rights. Possibilities for such experience include drafting reports and pleadings, appearing before international commissions and courts, and/or appearing at international conferences. The student is also expected to conduct field research and travel abroad (expenses for travel are paid by DU).
    • Second, the selected applicant is expected to engage in scholarship associated with the area of work he/she is engaged in with the client. The resulting article should be submitted for publication in an appropriate journal and/or presented at a conference. Faculty in the clinic will be available to support the scholar’s research and writing, as well as interaction with the client.
    The position requires a commitment of 20 to 25 hours per week. The two-semester program is worth 12 credits toward the awarding of an LLM degree. In addition, the student will be required to take a minimum of two substantive courses related to environmental or international law.

    Requisite Qualifications and How to Become an Erik B. Bluemel International Environmental Law Scholar

    Applicants must be eligible LLM candidates. Applicants should have demonstrable interest in the intersection of environmental law, human rights, and international law. While not required, language skills other than English add significant dimension to an applicant’s profile. To apply, the following should be sent directly to the director of the Sturm College of Law Environmental Law Clinic, Prof. Michael Harris, at
    • Resume or CV, including contact information for three references.
    • Cover letter (750 word max.) explaining your qualifications and experience as a scholar or in the field of the three topics of research, your interest in being a Bluemel Scholar and any ideas you have for the direction of your research.
    • A writing sample.
    In addition, scholars need to apply for admittance to the DU Sturm College of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program (LLM). Applications are accepted and reviewed on a revolving basis so applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible; the official deadline is March 5, 2010. More information about the graduate program is available from Assistant Director Lucy Daberkow at In addition, application information can be accessed by clicking here.

    About the DU Environmental Law Clinic

    The Environmental Law Clinic at DU provides a real world experience for students interested in environmental law who wish to develop practical legal skills. Under the supervision of Michael Harris, director of the Environmental Law Clinic, and Kevin Lynch, Environmental Law Clinic Fellow, students represent environmental advocacy organizations before courts and administrative agencies in a broad range of environmental matters, including endangered species, public lands, and air quality. The clinic’s efforts have produced significant protections for the environment and public health.

    About the Life of Erik Bluemel

    Prof. Harris has said this about his friend and colleague Erik Blumel:

    Although only thirty-one years old when he died, Erik lived a rich and accomplished life. He studied and distinguished himself at Berkeley, the University of Chile, New York University School of Law, and Georgetown University Law Center. Even before he went to law school, Erik had backpacked throughout the world, studying cultures and giving presentations on topics of law and culture. Indeed, Erik’s expertise in global climate change had made him an emerging international commodity on the lecture circuit -- he was scheduled to present in Montana and Italy in the weeks following his untimely death. He had already presented in Norway earlier in the year, and China before that. Erik particularly relished his trips abroad, where he could explore discussions with colleagues worldwide about the relationship between the complexity of government structures and potential future solutions to the problem of climate change. Perhaps most impressive of all, given his age and other commitments and accomplishments, he was a prolific writer.
    To be sure, this is a tremendous opportunity for the right person. Learning while doing and at the same time creating a network of contacts...the combination presents a compelling case to apply!

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Financial Times Reports That Some U.S. Industrial Firms Are Worried About Lack of Climate Law

    As the U.S. government lurches (does anyone really know whether President Obama can deliver on his recent pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?) towards the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen next week, there are indications that at least some major U.S. industrial firms are very apprehensive about what sort of legal and regulatory environment they will face in the absence of federal legislation.

    In effect, they are concerned that in the absence of federal legislation the legal and regulatory environment may be dictated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or state legislation or perhaps both. Such a result would create enormous compliance issues, according to the firms.

    For instance, the FT reported ("Industrial Groups Warn Over Climate Law," Dec. 1, 2009) that Peter Molinaro, Dow Chemical head of government affairs, said "an enormous administrative burden" would result in the absence of federal legislation. "Manufacturers are having enough trouble in [the U.S.] competing with foreign companies. We'd be adding administrative and cost burden where we shouldn't," he said.

    The story also noted that a spokesman for the German firm Siemens said that in order to plan for the future, firms must know if there is a price for emitting carbon. "How do you have one price of carbon if you've got four or five different regimes," she asked according to the FT.

    Before the holidays, we should know more about all of this. But in the meantime, the matter of how industrial firms can plan for future investment in the absence of any clear carbon price signals (at least in the U.S.) is daunting if not impossible.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Vote for LLM Graduate on Huffington Post!

    Leslie Weise, a 2005 LLM graduate, is competiting for a Huffington Post "citizen journalist" spot for the upcoming UN Climate Convention in Copenhagen.

    Take a look at her video and then cast your vote.

    As she says, "It will only take a minute, and if you don't have a minute - just take a second to vote." She goes on to write, "Thank you very much - I would really love to be nominated for this. Please forward or post to anyone you know who would be willing to give me a TOP VOTE."

    This will benefit all of us since if she wins, then I'm sure she will post some of her thoughts on this blog!

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    Financial Times' Book of the Year: "Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air"

    A book that the Financial Times describes as an "influential account of the science behind renewable energy" has made the paper's prestigious "2009 Books of the Year."

    And the great thing about "Sustainable Energy -- Without the Hot Air" is that it can be freely downloaded by clicking here. The book is authored by David J.C. MacKay, a University of Cambridge (England) physicist. A synopsis of the book is available by clicking here.

    If you are like me, you may want to read a review (or several) about the book before plowing through it. One review, published by the London Guardian last spring ( "Power to the People," April 29, 2009 ), noted that the book:
    [I]s being hailed by some as a 'game changer;' a text that could revolutionise popular thinking about our future energy needs and how we could supply them...[The book] has gathered fans and accolades from all corners of the energy and climate change debate -- politicians, business leaders, environmentalists."
    Meanwhile, The Economist ("Meltdown," April 8, 2009), said:
    "Irritated by the waffle that often surrounds discussions of energy and climate change, Mr. MacKay...has chosen to illustrate the challenge of breaking our fossil-fuel addiction armed only with the laws of physics, reams of publicly available information and the back of an envelope...The book is a tour de force, showing, for example, how the potential contribution of biofuels can be approximated from just three numbers: the intensity of sunlight, the efficiency with which plants turn that sunlight into stored energy and the available land area in Britain...

    With global climate-change and energy policy consisting mostly of feel-good rhetoric rather than action, Mr. MacKay's reminder that the natural world does not care for political expediency...should be engraved on environment-ministry doors the world over. For anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the real problems involved, [this book] is the place to start."
    It is worth noting that the book is written largely about energy issues in the United Kingdom. However, do not let discourage you from checking out this useful work.

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    FT Special Report Says LLM Degree "Gains Favour as Financial Crisis Bites"

    The Financial Times, the London-based business newspaper with a global readership, is often at the forefront reporting on new trends in business and the professions. Recently, in a special report entitled, "Global Legal Education" (Nov. 23, 2009), the FT reported:
    "Long considered an extra string to a lawyer's bow, the LLM or Master of Law programme is increasingly seen as a productive alternative for those seeking work or facing imminent redundancy, and gives practitioners seeking promotion or a move the edge in readiness for the recovery."
    The special report went on to state:
    "The [LLM training, especially at U.S. law schools] can prove particularly valuable to practitioners from civil law jurisdictions who are advising on cross-border deals as it can give them an insight into American law and business culture..."
    It can also be observed that programs that attract large numbers of foreign students -- such as the DU program -- offer an even richer experience for American students, who have the opportunity to learn from their colleagues. This year, for example, the DU graduate program includes students from 12 different countries, thus underscoring the fact that studying at DU is valuable for foreign students and U.S. students alike. And we are thrilled to have all of them here in Denver.