Dec. 16, 2009 by David Hunter

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

Environmental negotiations have long set the standard for transparency and participation. The relationship between environmental organizations (of all kinds) and the negotiators has always been one tempered by a shared vision that the negotiations would succeed (in contrast to negotiations at the WTO or World Bank where “success” for many activists was often defined as the failure of the negotiations). The history of transparency and participation in environmental negotiations is taking a huge hit this week in Copenhagen—not because of a loss of a shared vision of success—but because the sheer scale of these negotiations has led to increasing security and a tightening noose around non-governmental participation.

It started on Monday morning. Literally thousands of participants arrived to pick up their registration badges and found instead large, slow-moving lines. In the end, some people stood in the cold for 10 hours and never got into the Bella Center, the enormous complex holding the negotiations. Even participants who had received their credentials earlier in the week had to stand in the line for an hour or so. Greenpeace, in what has to be one of their most appreciated actions of all time, served free coffee to the cold people …

Dec. 16, 2009 by Victor Flatt

There are two separate meetings going on here in Copenhagen, really. The one that everyone is focused on is the official negotiations between the countries to reach a new binding agreement on climate change (or extend Kyoto in some form). The other “meeting” is the interaction of the observer organizations inside and outside of the side event meetings and their informal reports to the official delegations. This second “meeting” is more amorphous, and more subject to chaos (the security clearance for credentialed observers has required more than seven hours of waiting in the cold and this morning (Wednesday) was suspended indefinitely). Nevertheless, it appears to me that there is some significant progress being made.

While here, I've focused on the intersecting issues of the carbon market, offsets and adaptation assistance to affected countries. From the official reports, it appears that little has happened in these areas …

Dec. 16, 2009 by Ben Somberg

In his speech in Copenhagen Tuesday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger applauded international leadership on climate change, but said that national or international agreements alone will not address the issue. He said that the "scientists, the capitalists and the activists" across the world have and will play an important role. And he talked about the job for subnational governments, like his own:

While national governments have been fighting over emission targets, subnational governments have been adopting their own targets and laws and policies.


In California, we are proceeding on renewable energy requirements and a cap and trade system for greenhouse gases. We are moving forward. As a matter of fact, we are making great progress. If hydro is included, we will get 45 percent of our energy from renewables in ten years from now and we are already at 27 percent.

We are proceeding on the world's …

Dec. 15, 2009 by David Hunter

Although virtually all of the attention regarding Copenhagen in the United States focuses on mitigation targets, in the developing world a primary focus of any environmental agreement is on the scale, sources and governance of any financial resources being made available. This is particularly true in Copenhagen, where the Global South has demanded upwards of a trillion dollars in development assistance over the next decades. That number is almost certainly out of reach, but with only a few days left of the negotiations none of the numbers are adding up, and there is little clarity over the scale, structure, or sources of climate financing.

Monday's distribution here of a new “facilitators draft” on financial resources (not publicly online, at least at the moment) did little to clarify the situation, punting most of the details to next year’s COP-16. The draft contemplates a new (as of …

Dec. 15, 2009 by Sidney Shapiro

The Concord Monitor has identified a New Hampshire factory (Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry) that has been the subject of previous OSHA investigations and fines, yet continues to expose its workers to dangerous conditions. OSHA’s most recent fine, $250,000, came after the agency found that a worker had high levels of lead in his blood. The newspaper obtained OSHA documents that revealed a pattern of violations by the company. The New Hampshire case is a troubling reminder of how weak OSHA is -- and of how that weakness puts many workers at danger in this country today.

OSHA has cited the foundry for 57 violations over the last four years, including 25 “serious” violations, which means the violation has potential to kill or seriously harm an employee. The violations included exit doors that could not be opened from the inside without keys or tools. OSHA inspectors also found …

Dec. 14, 2009 by Ben Somberg

In this morning's "Underused Drilling Practices Could Avoid Pollution," ProPublica has more important reporting on hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting chemicals at high pressure under deep rock to extract natural gas. Reports Abrahm Lustgarten:

Energy companies have figured out how to drill wells with fewer toxic chemicals, enclose wastewater so it can't contaminate streams and groundwater, and sharply curb emissions from everything from truck traffic to leaky gas well valves.


Yet these environmental safeguards are used only intermittently in the 32 states where natural gas is drilled. The energy industry is exempted from many federal environmental laws, so regulation of this growing industry is left almost entirely to the states, which often recommend, but seldom mandate the use of these techniques.

If natural gas is to be a growing 'bridge' energy source in coming years, will we mandate that the industry do what's …

Dec. 12, 2009 by Erin Kesler

Cornerstone of a Movement

Dec. 12, 2009 by Richard Pierce, Jr.


Dec. 12, 2009 by Rena Steinzor

CPR President Rena Steinzor today responded to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan's newly announced regulations for bring the state into compliance with the Clean Water Act requirements with respect to the Chesapeake Bay:

Governor Hogan's revised phosphorus regulations are a disappointment. The principal difference from Governor O'Malley's plan is that they will result in slower compliance with the requirements of the Clean Water Act and more pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. There's no avoiding the need to get pollution from agriculture under control if we're to save the Bay, and no good reason to slow down an already long-delayed effort.

Dec. 12, 2009 by Daniel Farber

Has the U.S. "exported" its carbon emissions to China by relying on China to manufacture so many of our goods?  There seems to be growing support for the idea that carbon emissions should be tied to consumption of goods rather than their manufacture, as the NY Times reported recently.  There is a grain of truth to the idea.  But consumer responsibility should be considered secondary.  The primary responsibility rests with producers.

Most of the debate has been about climate change.  But it may be easier to think through the issue in a less contentious context.  Consider the problem of water pollution in the Mississippi River, which results in the infamous dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.  Agricultural runoff in the Midwest is a big part of the problem.  A significant portion of the U.S. corn and soybean crops are exported to Asia.

Does this …

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