Friday, March 5, 2010

Carlos Dominguez, a Leading Attorney in South America, Speaks to Environmental Students at University of Denver

An important benefit of studying at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law is the opportunity it provides students and faculty to learn from prominent lawyers from around the world. Recently, one of South America's top attorneys, Carlos Dominguez of Caracas, Venezuela, spent several weeks as a visiting scholar at DU.

One of the classes Mr. Dominguez spoke to was "Comparative Environmental Law," which I teach. In the course, we consider environmental and legal matters in a range of countries. We also talk about the types of issues that might arise in an international setting.

We were honored to have Mr. Dominguez, a partner in the highly-respected firm Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque, speak to the class about his practice in litigation and intellectual property law. Among other things, he talked about the historical development of the oil and gas sector in Venezuela.

It was particularly great to have Mr. Dominguez speak since there are an increasingly growing group of matters that are dealt with in an international -- as opposed to just a domestic -- setting, and it is beneficial for students to hear individuals whose experience reflects these changes in the practice of law.

Among the students in the class were individuals from Argentina, Ghana, Japan, Nigeria, Peru, and the United States. (The students in this class really reflect the international diversity of DU's graduate program.)

During his time in Denver, Mr. Dominguez spoke to a wide range of classes, held meetings with many members of the faculty, met with numerous students, and was a great colleague and friend to all of us here.

Muchas gracias a Señor Dominguez. Nos vemos el año próximo! (Many thanks Mr. Dominguez. We will see you next year!)

--Don Smith

Thursday, March 4, 2010

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Accounces Application Process for 2010 Energy Leadership Program

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the leading U.S. government agency studying renewable energy and energy efficiency, has just announced that it is taking applications for its 2010 Executive Energy Leadership Program.

The program is open to "business executives throughout the United States who are interested in building their knowledge of the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries."

Selected applicants will meet for two-day periods over five months beginning this May.

As the blog has said before, Colorado is the center for the new energy economy. This program is yet another example of why.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Report Sets Out What European Union Must Do To Encourage Take Up of Carbon Capture and Sequestration

The European Union, which has enacted legislation mandating a reduction (across the whole of the EU) of greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 based on 1990 levels, must invest more public money for developing carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects as well as implement "strong market signals" to "ensure mass deployment of the technology," according to a new study by a leading EU think-tank.

In "Carbon Capture and Storage: What the EU Needs to Do," the Centre for European Reform in London sets out several key activities that the EU must undertake if it is to have 12 large CCS demonstration projects operating by 2015.

In a broader context, the EU finds itself in an increasingly difficult position. It has adopted strong legislation aimed at achieving its GHG reduction targets. But thus far, despite the leadership it has tried to provide at an international level it is moving along mostly in the absence of any large partners (for example, China, India, the U.S.).

Have the Europeans made a huge strategic mistake that will hinder economic development? Or will their first mover approach pay dividends in a world that will adopt EU-based solutions? Difficult questions to be sure. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

LLM Students Glauce Santesso Coelho and Taciana Marques Play Key Roles as DU Hosts Brazilian Federal Judges Association Conference

Recently the DU Sturm College of Law hosted a visit of more than 30 members of the Association of Federal Judges of Brazil. The Brazilian judges visited the college of law and Denver to learn more about the U.S. legal system as well as to visit several courts located in Denver.

The week-long event was organized by Prof. Rock Pring and his wife Catherine Pring as well as the former president of Brazil's Federal Court of Appeals of the 4th Region Judge Vladimir Passos de Freitas. Prof. Pring and Judge Freitas met several years ago when the Prings were visiting Brazil while working on their Environmental Courts and Tribunals study.

Two Brazilian LLM students were centrally involved in helping the college of law host the members of Brazil's federal judiciary. According to Prof. Pring, "One of the really innovative aspects of the conference was engaging Glauce Coelho [who has practiced as an associate attorney at Demarest & Almeida Advogados and Mattos Filho Advogados, both in Sao Paulo], an impressive Brazilian lawyer who is here getting her LLM in our world-famous Graduate Program in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Glauce and her team provided the professors with background papers on the Brazilian law of their subjects, inserted Portuguese translations onto the professors' PowerPoints, and assisted the Judges with their questions throughout the morning lectures and afternoon field trips. She was ably supported by two other students of ours: Taciana Marques, [senior associate attorney at Souza Cescon Barrieu & Flesch Advogados in Sao Paulo] another Brazilian lawyer in our LLM Program, and Sierra Russell, a U.S. student in our JD Program who is fluent in Portuguese. The Judges told me they were highlights of the program."

Pictured in the photograph above are Judge Claudia Cristina Cristofani, Prof. Don Smith, attorney Taciana Marques, attorney Glauce Santesso Coelho, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Carlos Lucero, Judge Nino Oliveira Toldo, Judge Marcelo Navarro Ribeiro Dantas, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, and Judge Jose Henrique Guaracy Rebelo. The photograph was taken in the Denver Federal Courthouse where the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is located.

Monday, March 1, 2010

EU Greenhouse Gases Emission Trading Scheme a "Path Breaking Public Policy Experiment" New Book Reports

The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) "is one of the most exciting and important initiatives ever taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions" according to the new book "Pricing Carbon: The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme." Authored by Frank J. Convery of University College Dublin, A. Denny Ellerman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Christian de Perthuis of the Universite de Paris IX, the book analyses the first period of the ETS, which ran from 2005 through 2007.

The ETS is currently in its second stage, which runs from 2008 to 2012. The third stage of the ETS begins in 2013 and runs through 2020. According to the publisher, Cambridge University Press, the book is the "first comprehensive assessment of the EU ETS."

In the book's introduction, the authors argue that the European legislation "will be an important influence on the development and implementation of trading schemes in the United States, Japan, and elsewhere. As such, it can provide the cornerstone for an eventual global grading regime, which will be an important component of the set of policies that will be needed to address climate change."

The book also makes several other interesting observations about this first phase of the ETS, a phase that many have concluded was less than successful because of the oversupply of emissions allowances caused when the European Commission approved too many allowance requests by the EU's member states. Among the observations:
  • The "EU ETS was a product of two failures. First, the European Commission failed in its initiative to introduce an effective EU-wide carbon energy tax in the 1990s. Second, the Commission fought unsuccessfully against the inclusion of trading, as a flexible instrument in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997?[T]hese apparent setbacks were followed by the successful creation of an EU-wide market in carbon dioxide."
  • "Carbon emissions trading in Europe has finally lifted the environment from the boiler room to the boardroom, from ministries of environment to ministries of finance, from local councils to Cabinet tables. For chief executives of many major corporations, the environment and the carbon market has become an omnipresent, if not always welcome, guest at their strategic tables?The ETS is orders of magnitude more significant in terms of its scope, ambition, and likely impact than any other application of environmental economics."
  • "Creating a carbon market at the heart of Europe was a means of providing not only a price signal, but also a practical fulcrum that could enhance the effectiveness and coherence of other, parallel EU policies, demonstrate global leadership by the European Union and provide encouragement to, and a framework for, the rest of the world to join in the effort."
A recent article in the BNA International Environment Daily ("Transatlantic Study Finds EU Trading Scheme Successfully Cut Greenhouse Gas Emission," Feb. 12, 2010) said, "According to the study, emissions reductions achieved in the ETS first three years were obtained in cost-effective ways with moderate implementation and transaction cost, while there was no loss of competitiveness for the firms required to participate."