Friday, April 16, 2010

Swedish Official Marcus Oscarsson Speaks to DU Law Students About European Union Environmental Policies and the EU's Environmental Leadership Role

Marcus Oscarsson, a Swedish civil servant who worked for Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt during Sweden's European Union Presidency from July-December 2009, spoke recently to Professor Don Smith's Comparative Environmental Law course.

Mr. Oscarsson, shown in the picture on the left on the large screen, talked to the students from his Stockholm office by way of a video conference. The students in Denver could see and hear Mr. Oscarsson while he could see and hear them as well. The eight hours difference between Mountain Daylight time in the U.S. and Central European time in Stockholm faded away quickly once Mr. Oscarsson began.

Among the issues Mr. Oscarsson addressed were:
  • Why environmental issues are important in the EU: The "northern" countries, such as Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Sweden have active "Green" political parties that have raised the level of concern about the environment and in some cases -- such as Germany -- have been part of governing coalitions. Moreover, in countries such as Sweden the environment and nature are extremely important with many people spending large amounts of time hiking, boating, and so on.
  • EU policies regarding climate change: There is widespread agreement in the EU that climate change is taking place and that the consequences will be catastrophic if the world does not respond. On the other hand, the EU was very disappointed with the outcome of the Copenhagen UN climate change talks in December. One option that has been mentioned in the global media is that maybe the EU needs to let another, more environmentally "moderate" country, take the lead in future climate discussions, he said.
  • How the EU feels about its successes and failures in relation to being a "world model" on environmental issues: While most EU citizens are "very proud" of the EU's commitment to environmental leadership, there is concern that without the active involvement of the China and the U.S. any global successes will be limited at best, he said.
  • The political differences between the U.S. and EU countries regarding environmental issues: With the "proportional representation" electoral scheme that is in place in most EU countries (outside of the U.K.), Green parties are often pivotal actors in helping governments put together governing coalitions. This means that the Greens can play a larger role in defining environmental policies than in places, such as the U.S., where smaller parties simply do not play much of a role in determining who will govern a country.

Mr. Oscarsson was delighted with the wide ranging group of students from Argentina, Japan, Nigeria, and the U.S. "It was a real 'international' event," he said after his remarks.

According to Prof. Smith, "The European Union's leadership role in environmental policy issues is one that we often talk about in class. To have someone like Marcus Oscarsson, who is involved in Swedish policy making, speaking in real time to our students is highly beneficial to all of us since he can provide a true and highly informed 'European perspective' on why and how the EU has taken such an ambitious stand in relation to many key issues such as climate change." Prof. Smith went on to say, "We owe a large debt of gratitude to Marcus for taking time to speak to us and to share his insights with our students. I am certain that future DU students will also learn from Marcus since he has been a regular contributor to our program for several years now and is certain to remain so in the future."

In addition to his service to the Swedish government. Marcus Oscarsson has also served as Scandinavian correspondent for major European newspapers such as the U.K. Daily Mail, the Times of London, and the U.K. Sunday Telegraph, and the U.S.-based Global Post.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

DU Adjunct Law Professor William J. Brady Featured in British Airlines' "Be There Face to Face" Website

University of Denver Sturm College of Law Adjunct Prof. William J. Brady has been featured in British Airways' "Be There Face-to-Face" website that calls attention to business travelers who often fly BA.

Prof. Brady, who is also a partner at the Denver-based firm of Grimshaw & Harring, P.C., often travels to Europe on business and for speaking engagements.

According to Prof. Brady:
"British Airways last summer started a 'doing business face to face' promotion based on a Harvard Business School study emphasizing the importance of building personal relationships in marketing goods and services. I entered a BA competition and described Meritas, my law firm's international affiliation, and our firm, as well as my participation in speaking engagements abroad wherein I also promote DU and my role as an adjunct law professor. Recently I was advised that BA had decided to publish my profile, along with several others to be displayed on their website. To the best of my knowledge I am the only academic (but not the only lawyer) whom BA is currently featuring on their website."
Please click here to visit the BA website featuring Prof. Brady.

Lest it be said, the "world's favourite airline," as BA refers to itself (using, not surprisingly, the U.K. spelling of "favorite"), has recognized one of "DU's favorite adjunct professors."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cost of Carbon and Capital Financing Keys to Future Costs of Generating Electricity According to New IEA and OECD Study

The price of carbon and the costs of raising capital will be the two most important elements to the cost of generating electricity in the future according to a new study by the International Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA).

NEA Director General Luis Eschavarri, noted in particular that "to bolster competitiveness of low-carbon technologies such as nuclear, renewables and carbon capture and storage, we need strong government action to lower the cost of financing and a significant carbon dioxide price signal to be internalised in power markets."

The report, Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2010 Edition, also noted the important role that governments play in decisions about electricity generation:
Governments play a key role when it comes to the cost of raising financial capital and the price of carbon. The cost of capital is essentially a function of the risk faced by each option for generating electricity -- market risk, technology risk, construction and regulatory risk. With their high capital costs, low-carbon technologies such as nuclear, renewables and carbon capture and storage are particularly vulnerable. Smart government action, however, can do much to reduce these risks.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

China Leads the World in Clean Energy Investment and Finance According to New Report From Pew Charitable Trusts

China's 2009 clean energy-related investments and finance were the highest of any country in the world according to a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. In 2009 China invested nearly $35 billion in the clean energy sector, which was almost twice what the United States invested.

The report, Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? Growth, Competition, and Opportunity in the World's Largest Economies, also identified the "remarkable growth" in the clean energy sector:
  • Since 2005 global clean energy investments have grown by 230 percent
  • Over the last five years, clean energy investments have increased by 50 percent by the overwhelming majority of G-20 countries
  • In 2009, clean energy investments accounted for more than $160 billion
  • In 2010, clean energy investments are expected to reach $200
Phyllis Cutton, the director of Pew's Global Warming Campaign, said, "Even in the midst of a global recession, the clean energy market has experienced impressive growth. Countries are jockeying for leadership. they know that investing in clean energy can renew manufacturing bases, and create export opportunities, jobs, and businesses."

The report noted that countries with "strong nationwide policy frameworks, including renewable energy standards, carbon markets, priority loans for renewable energy projects and mandated clean energy targets" such as Brazil, China, Germany, Spain, and the UK "have the most robust clean energy sectors as a percentage of their economies." On the other hand, the report said that countries -- such as Australia, Japan, and the U.S. -- that lack such policy frameworks "lag behind."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Adjunct Prof. Cecilia Dalupan, an Advisor to the Government of the Philippines, Discusses Copenhagen Climate Change Conference at ADR Session

University of Denver law students, professors and guests recently learned what the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009 were really like at a presentation by Cecilia Dalupan. Ms. Dalupan, an attorney licensed both in the Philippines and Colorado, participated in the climate change negotiations as a legal advisor for the Philippine delegation. Ms. Dalupan’s extensive experience in international law, natural resources law, and alternative dispute resolution contributed to her involvement in the negotiations.

Ms. Dalupan described the vast array of negotiating groups and interest groups present at the negotiations. While each party is entitled to one vote, with the exception of the European Union, whose votes correspond to its 27 member countries, the parties develop negotiating strategies as negotiating groups or blocks, such as the Group of 77 and China (G77 and China), a negotiating group of developing countries which has now grown to over 130 member states.

While China and the U.S. produce the largest percentage of global emissions of greenhouse gases, the world’s least developed countries emit only a small fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions. Statistics such as these, coupled with the fact that the least developed countries have little capital to invest in reduction of greenhouse gases and little to no ability to send representatives to meetings in places like Copenhagen, create immense challenges in the negotiating process. Some developed countries, for example, were able to send hundreds of delegates to the convention, including experts on issues ranging from forestry to use of markets to promote mitigation, while other countries had much leaner delegations that were then faced with a severe disadvantage in negotiations that occurred around the clock in simultaneous meetings.

Hundreds of non-state actors, such as United Nations bodies, nonprofit organizations, and intergovernmental organizations, were admitted to the negotiations, but their representatives were often forced to wait outside the conference building as pressure escalated to vote on an agreement; there simply was not enough room for everyone to be in the building.

The negotiations toward a “Copenhagen Accord” focused on emission reduction targets; verifiable mitigation commitments by all major economies; mitigation and adaptation support for developing countries; measurement, reporting, and verification; and a mandate for a final agreement. Negotiations continued through the late evening and early morning hours, including some positive steps forward, but much blaming, finger pointing and name-calling.

Towards the end of the conference, the exhausted negotiators were left debating over choices of words ranging from “noting” to “have agreed,” that could either stall or solidify the agreement. These final debates became so heated, perhaps exacerbated by pressure from the public and the media to finalize a deal, that the ultimate decision resulting from the conference reads simply as “The Conference of the Parties, Takes note of the Copenhagen Accord of 18 December 2009,” attached to summaries from various ad hoc working groups. Despite the unusual form of this agreement, over 110 countries have responded since then by submitting particular emission reduction targets and related actions to be completed by 2020, including a U.S. commitment to cut 17% from 2005 emissions levels and to enact legislation.* On the other hand, Ecuador, Kuwait, Nauru, Cook Islands, and Cuba have rejected association with the accord.**

Ms. Dalupan expressed that progress in the negotiations will necessitate improved conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms in a setting where the parties have very different ideas about what conflict resolution means. However, without such mechanisms, the negotiations may end in stalemates and blame games rather than produce the trust and innovative thinking required for the parties to provide long-term solutions. Dalupan also advocated for increased transparency in the various bilateral meetings and side negotiations that occur throughout the process so that all parties may share in the process.

Particularly relevant to the event that brought Ms. Dalupan to DU, “Alternative Dispute Resolution Week,” sponsored by the DU ADR Society, was her observation that very highly skilled negotiators and mediators are required for this negotiating process to succeed. Thus, individuals who wish to affect climate change, as in many areas of international and natural resources law, are advised to develop strong negotiation and mediation skills.

To see Ms. Dalupan's PowerPoint presentation, please click here.

Ms. Dalupan is originally from the Philippines. She now works as an Associate Director of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation and a volunteer part time director of Sustainable Development Strategies Group. The week of May 24-28, Ms. Dalupan, attorney Luke Danielson, and University of Dundee Prof. Elizabeth Bastida will be teaching a three-credit, one-week intense course on "National Perspectives Related to Sustainable Natural Resources Development." You can read more about this course, which is part of a four-course series, by clicking here.

--Kristi Disney
J.D./LL.M. Candidate Spring 2011

*Jacob Werksman, "Associating" with the Copenhagen Accords: What does it Mean? World Resources Institute, March 25, 2010.