International Environmental Law



The Practice of Shared Responsibility in relation to Climate Change

Jacqueline Peel

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


The Practice of Shared Responsibility for Transboundary Air Pollution

Peter H. Sand

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


The Practice of Shared Responsibility in relation to Nature Conservation

Arie Trouwborst

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


Shared Accountability of the European Union and its Member States within the Climate Change Regime

Anne-Sophie Tabau

This paper addresses the distribution of accountability between the European Union (EU) and its Member States under the current and future climate regime. Belonging to a field of shared competence between the EU and its Member States, the climate regime … Read more


Expert Seminar Report – Shared Responsibility in International Environmental Law

This report summarizes the presentations and following discussions from the Expert Seminar on Shared Responsibility in International Environmental Law (IEL) held in Amsterdam in October 2011. The overall aim of this Expert Seminar was to map factual situations in which … Read more


Joint Responsibility between the EU and Member States for Non-Performance of Obligations under Multilateral Environmental Agreements

André Nollkaemper

This chapter explores the basis and manifestations of joint responsibility between the European Union (EU) and its Member States for non-performance of obligations contained in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). Joint responsibility has often been advanced as an attractive solution where … Read more


International Liability as an Instrument to Prevent and Compensate for Climate Change

Michael G. Faure and André Nollkaemper

This article examines some of the fundamental questions that would arise in litigation on liability for climate change, covering both domestic and international liability law. It sketches some of the questions and issues that would have to be dealt with … Read more


18 and 19 April 2013

SHARES Seminar: Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law of the Sea and International Environmental Law

This SHARES Seminar will discuss papers reviewing the practice of shared responsibility in the field of international law of the sea and international environmental law. (more…)

3 September 2012

SHARES Debate: ‘The Future We Want: The Long Road to Sustainable Development’

The SHARES Debates are organized by SHARES in cooperation with SPUI25, an academic centre of the University of Amsterdam, which develops connections between academics, students, alumni, and a larger public outside the university. SPUI25 holds regular lectures, debates and interviews aiming at reflecting on current events and engaging with a heterogenous audience.

Through this setting, SHARES will periodically provide discussions platforms where researchers and practitioners will exchange with a wide public. During this first debate, the results of the Rio+20 conference will be discussed through the topic: ‘The Future We Want: The Long Road to Sustainable Development’. (more…)

11 June 2012

SHARES Lecture: ‘The future of the UN climate change regime: options for the Durban platform negotiations’, by Professor Bodansky

On 11 June 2012, Professor Daniel Bodansky will give a SHARES lecture on the topic of: ‘The future of the UN climate change regime: options for the Durban platform negotiations’.

Professor Bodansky is Lincoln Professor of Law, Ethics and Sustainability at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He an expert on global climate change whose teaching and research focus on international environmental law and public international law. (more…)

7 October 2011

Expert Seminar: Shared Responsibility in International Environmental Law

The Expert Meeting will address the allocation of responsibility in respect of environmental protection.

Transboundary environmental harm is the archetypical problem of shared responsibility in that it invites an application of principles of joint and several or proportionate responsibility. But the number of claims that has actually led to the application of such principles is very limited, especially in the context of traditional enforcement mechanisms. Rather, states have laid down in a series of treaties how responsibility for transboundary environmental harm is to be shared. Such arrangements differ for different environmental problems, such as climate change, transboundary air pollution and transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and chemicals.

The seminar is organized with a view to map primary rules in the area of international environmental law. (more…)


23 January 2014

The Extinction of the West African Lion: Whose Responsibility?

Figure 2. Lion status in West African protected areas within lion range. In: Henschel P, Coad L, Burton C, Chataigner B, Dunn A, et al. (2014) The Lion in West Africa Is Critically Endangered. PLOS ONE 9(1): e83500. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083500

Lion status in West African protected areas within lion range.
© P. Henschel, L. Coad, C. Burton, B. Chataigner, A. Dunn et al. (see footnote).

A recently published study showed that the lion in West Africa is now critically endangered and faces extinction. From one angle, this would be just one of the large (though unknown) number of species that has previously faced extinction or has even become extinct. But the risk of extinction of some species give more reason for pause than others. Surely the lion – a cultural icon for cultures across the world since time immemorial – deserves a moment of reflection.

The cited study describes how the lion was once the most successful large carnivore. Its range extended from South Africa, across Eurasia, and into the southern United States. Today, the lion’s range is restricted to Africa, with a population of the Asiatic sub-species in India. Lions in Africa have lost 75 percent of their range in the last 100 years. (more…)

20 January 2014

Protecting the Arctic area – a responsibility of many?

On 16 December 2013, the fourth SHARES Debate entitled Protecting the Arctic area – a responsibility of the Netherlands? was held in Amsterdam. The panel consisted of three speakers: Louwrens Hacquebord, René Lefeber, and Daniel Simons. André Nollkaemper acted as moderator. This blog post highlights the main parts of the debate.

Background – changes and threats

Through the melting of the ice of the Arctic, as a consequence of global warming, new economic opportunities for states and businesses arise. Areas that until recently were covered in ice are now opening up, creating, for example, permanent navigational routes between Asia and Europe, and enabling the exploitation of oil and gas resources that had been previously located in inaccessible areas. The Netherlands, as well as companies incorporated in the Netherlands, are among the many actors that want to capitalise on these new opportunities. The increase of economic activities can pose significant risks to the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic. This raises a fundamental question: who is responsible for the management, use and protection of the Arctic area? In this complex situation, question arise over the role and responsibility of the Netherlands and other actors, including Dutch companies such as Van Oord, Boskalis and Shell. (more…)

1 November 2013

International Law Commission and the topic ‘Protection of the Atmosphere’: Anything new on the table?

The International Law Commission (ILC), in its sixty-fifth session (2013) decided to include in its programme a topic entitled ‘Protection of the Atmosphere’ (see here para. 168). The ILC appointed as a Special Rapporteur Mr. Shinya Murase.

The inclusion of the topic is a very interesting development. It is the second topic pertaining to environmental law (the other being ‘Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflicts’) currently under consideration by the ILC. It is also a very difficult topic, given the number of conventions, both successful and unsuccessful ones, that have been so far concluded, the body of academic output on issues of atmospheric pollution and the strong political pull on the issue. (more…)

30 October 2013

The 2013 Southeast Asia haze – a shared responsibility?

Singapore covered in haze (20 June 2013), compared to a clear day (13 April 2012). © AFP

Singapore covered in haze (20 June 2013), compared to a clear day (13 April 2012). © AFP

Last summer, hazardous levels of air pollution affected the health and lives of many people, the economy (e.g. disruptions of air traffic due to reduced visibility, decreased tourism and business activities) and the environment of multiple states.[1] In both Singapore and Malaysia, record breaking levels of atmospheric pollution were measured.[2] Large parts of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia were covered in smog, and the smoke haze[3] even spread to Thailand and Brunei. (more…)

17 October 2013

Clarifying the content of climate change mitigation obligations

Broken and drifting sea ice melting in the heat of the Arctic summer, Greenland. © Greenpeace

On 27 September 2013, Dutch NGO Urgenda announced it will institute legal proceedings against the Dutch state in order to address its allegedly failing climate change policy. This announcement was made on the same day that Working Group I of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its fifth report on climate change, concluding amongst others that scientists are 95 per cent certain that humans are the ‘dominant cause’ of global warming since the 1950s. Urgenda has published the draft court summons on its website (Dutch only), which may still be subject to revision. The final court summons will be presented to the Dutch state on 23 October 2013. Claimants will ask the Court: (more…)

16 October 2013

Sharing Risks, Sharing Liability: Environmental and Health Risks of the Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons

On 11 October 2013, the UN Security Council authorised the establishment of a Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations (UN) to oversee the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. The Council endorsed the proposal formulated by Ban Ki-moon in a letter to the Council of 7 October (S/2013/591), pursuant to a request by the Security Council in Resolution 2118 (2013).

While all attention now focusses on the completion of the Joint Mission’s goal (the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons), it is not too early to plan for contingencies. The destruction of the chemical weapons will entail significant risks for the environment and human health. (more…)

27 May 2013

What Responsibility over Iconic Marine Living Resources? – Commentary

Symposium on the Law of the Sea and the Law of Responsibility, cross-posted on Opinio Juris

Natalie Klein has drawn attention to a longstanding weakness in those fields of international law, including international environmental law, devoted to serve collective interests, in matching obligations with rules of responsibility for their breach. The law of state responsibility applies in a fairly straightforward way to situations where there is an obligation under a treaty to protect the environment, that is violated by a treaty party, with clear impacts upon another party. However, as Klein points out, when it comes to iconic whale and shark (and indeed other) species found on the high seas the responsibility situation may be far from straightforward, and this can frustrate efforts to enforce conservation rules. (more…)

27 May 2013

What Responsibility over Iconic Marine Living Resources?

Symposium on the Law of the Sea and the Law of Responsibility, cross-posted on Opinio Juris

One of the most successful environmental campaigns was captured by the slogan of ‘Save the Whales’. It was apparently when the Australian Prime Minister’s daughter returned home from school sporting a Save the Whales badge that the initial impetus was provided for Australia to shift from pro-whaling nation to anti-whaling. Over the decades, we have seen a fundamental change in the legal regulation of whaling: from minimal regulation and maximum exploitation to a zero-catch quota (colloquially known as the moratorium) on commercial whaling under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). There has been resistance to this moratorium – from those states that never agreed to the imposition of a moratorium and those states that seem to thwart the moratorium by conducting commercial whaling under the guise of legally permissible scientific whaling, as Australia asserts Japan is doing. If we are to maintain legal standards in the conduct of whaling then how can states be held responsible? (more…)

7 March 2013

The Illegal Ivory Trade Chain

Ivory-TradeIn 1990 Michael Glennon wrote a groundbreaking piece in the American Journal of International Law with the title ‘Has International Law Failed the Elephant?’ The question mark hinted at the possibility that international law had not failed the elephant. And perhaps in 1990 there was reason for hope. African elephants[1] had just been included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning the sale of their tusks was outlawed. There was reason for hope that this would limit or even reverse the downward spiral in populations. (more…)

25 March 2012

EU Aviation scheme as a countermeasure against other ICAO member states?

The New York Times recently reported that China, the United States and two dozen other countries are looking at coordinated countermeasures against Europe — including putting pressure on European airlines and other industries — if the EU tries to enforce the EU Aviation Directive, that requires airlines to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions.

Much has been said on the legality of the Aviation Directive. Joshua Melzer just published a good analysis of the Directive and its WTO compatibility in the Journal of International Economic Law. In the ATA case, the ECJ considered its compatibility with customary international law (more…)

25 November 2011

The Seabed Disputes Chamber clarified the meaning of joint and several liability (but also raised new questions)

The principle of joint liability in undeveloped in international law. Though some treaties refer to it, and several scholarly articles that have recognized its importance for situations where multiple actors cause injury, the scope and contents of the principle remain uncertain. It is therefore of some importance that the Advisory Opinion of the Seabed Disputes Chamber of ITLOS on Responsibilities and Obligations of States sponsoring persons and entities with respect to activities in the Area (1 February 2011) discussed the principle. In his presentation at the SHARES Seminar on Shared Responsibility in Environmental Law, held at ACIL on 7 November 2011, Judge Treves provided further insight into these, until now somewhat neglected, aspects of the Opinion. (more…)


19 July 2013

Hong Kong seizes ivory smuggled from Togo

Hong Kong customs officials announced the seizure of smuggled ivory worth $ 2.25 million on a Togolese container. The shipment contained 1,148 elephant tusks and is one of the largest seizures ever made in Hong Kong.

The seizure is the fifth ivory seizure in Hong Kong since last October, all originating in Africa where conservationists say elephant populations are in crisis. According to the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, the increasing large-scale shipments indicate the involvement of criminal organizations that smuggle ivory through South-East Asian states to major markets such as China. In Asia, growing affluence has resulted in soaring demand for wildlife products, while enforcement and penalties often remain weak, wildlife experts say.

Source: The New York Times | Hong Kong Seizes Smuggled Elephant Tusks

4 June 2013

Independent panel of experts finds Ethiopian Nile dam to meet international standards

Ethiopia’s unilateral action to construct a dam on the Nile river, with potentially significant impact on water flow in the river, has caused a long-standing dispute between Ethiopia and the other Nile basin states that have been unable to agree on the use of the trans-boundary river and its environment.

Ethiopian officials said on Saturday 1 June that an independent panel of experts considering the effects of the dam has concluded that the construction follows international standards and will not significantly affect Egypt and Sudan that have expressed concerns over diminished water shares and the environmental impact of the dam that, upon completion, would be Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant. All sides have been committed to a negotiated solution, but failing that, the matter could be brought before the ICJ.

Source: The Washington Post | Ethiopian official: Report finds Nile dam won’t significantly affect Egypt, Sudan
Source: The Japan Times | Ethiopia builds giant dam on Nile, sparking Egypt fear
Source: Ahram Online | International arbitration could be option for Ethiopia's Blue Nile dam: Govt source

22 May 2013

Eight states have submitted an action plan to CITES to combat illegal trade in elephant ivory

Eight states (Thailand, China, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda and Viet Nam) which have been identified as primary source, import and transit countries affected by the illegal trade in ivory, have submitted national action plans to the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The plans contain among others specific activities in the areas of international and national enforcement, legislation and regulations, and were requested by the CITES Standing Committee because of the huge rise in the number of elephants that were poached for their ivory.

The eight countries that have submitted action plans are urged to take urgent measures to put their plans into practice before July 2014, when the CITES Standing Committee will review their implementation. The Secretariat will then provide the Standing Committee with its evaluation of the activities that have been conducted by each state, and will recommend potential further measures to intensify efforts in critical areas.

Two additional groups of states which need to adopt measures shortly have also been identified. First, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, Gabon, Mozambique and Nigeria will need to develop and begin implementing similar national action plans in order to combat illegal trade in ivory this year. Second, the Secretariat will be seeking clarification from Angola, Cambodia, Laos, Japan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on how they control trade in ivory.

For some background on this topic, see here.

Source: CITES | Press Release | Eight countries submit national action plans to combat illegal trade in elephant ivory

7 March 2013

Eight states threatened with trade sanctions in relation to their role in illegal ivory trade

At the Conference of the Parties of the of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), eight states (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and China) were identified as key to the trade in ivory and were threatened with trade sanctions if they do not address failures in protection against poaching, and failures in seizing illegal ivory trade.

Six of these states are states which most ivory passes through (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam), the other two are the states were most ivory is bought (China and Thailand).

The news of threat of trade sanctions coincides with the publication of a report that details the increase in levels of poaching. The report concludes that illicit ivory trade activity and the weight of ivory behind this trade has more than doubled since 2007, and is over three times greater than it was in 1998.

Source: The Guardian | Two-thirds of forest elephants killed by ivory poachers in past decade
Source: UNEP, CITES, IUCN, TRAFFIC | Elephants in the Dust - The African Elephant Crisis | A Rapid Response Assessment
Source: The Miami Herald | Ivory trade nations face threat of sanctions

28 January 2013

US identifies 10 countries that conducted fishing in contravention of a regional fishery management agreement

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has submitted a Congressionally mandated report identifying ten nations whose fishing vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2011 or 2012. The 10 states are Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Tanzania, and Venezuela. All ten nations identified in this year’s report had vessels that did not comply in 2011 and/or 2012 with conservation and management measures required under a regional fishery management organisation to which the US is a party. The report is part of the efforts of the United States to ensure that the US fishing industry is not undermined by unsustainable or illegal activities. The US will soon start consultations with each of the 10 nations to encourage them to take action to address IUU fishing and by-catch by their fishermen.

Source: Merco Press | US NOAA identifies 10 countries that conducted IUU fishing in 2011-12

18 January 2013

New report on the legality of hydropower project on Mekong river

The International Rivers Network published a report examining the legality of the controversial Xayaburi Hydropower Project undertaken by Laos on the Lower Mekong River. While Cambodia and Vietnam have voiced concerns about the project’s transboundary impacts, Thailand has financed the project and agreed to purchase its electricity.

Source: International Rivers | Xayaburi Dam: How Laos Violated the 1995 Mekong Agreement | Report by Kirk Herbertson | January 2013
Source: International Rivers | Xayaburi Dam: How Laos Violated the 1995 Mekong Agreement | Blog post by Kirk Herbertson | 13 January 2013
Source: VOA | Laos Dam Project Tests Credibility of Mekong River Commission

19 December 2012

Protocol for the Protection of the Caspian Sea against Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities adopted

The states parties to the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan) adopted a Protocol for the Protection of the Caspian Sea against Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities during the fourth Conference of the Parties (COP 4). According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Protocol will further enhance the co-operation on environmental matters in the region.

Source: UN News Centre | UN environment agency welcomes renewed commitment to protecting Caspian Sea

7 December 2012

Researchers: carbon dioxide emissions hit record in 2011

The New York Times reported that global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2, the most significant heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere) were at a record level in 2011. Researchers believe the global emissions of carbon dioxide are likely to hit record again in 2012, because efforts to limit emissions seem to be failing.

Due to continued increase of global emissions, the objective of limiting global warming is difficult to achieve.

Source: The New York Times | With Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Record High, Worries on How to Slow Warming

6 December 2012

Ban Ki-moon: Rich countries are responsible for climate change

Rich countries are to blame for climate change and should take the lead in forging a global climate pact by 2015, a deadline that “must be met,” the head of the United Nations said on 5 December 2012. In addition, he said that it was “only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility” in fighting the gradual warming of the planet.

The comments were made as the Doha Climate Change Conference draws to a close on Friday 7 December 2012. It opened on Monday 26 November 2012 in Doha, Qatar to produce agreement on an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires later this year.

Source: Guardian | Ban Ki-moon: rich countries are to blame for global warming

12 September 2012

Cooperation between U.S. and Russia on Antarctica

On 8 September 2012, the United States and Russia signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in Antarctica and issued Joint Statements on Pursuing a Transboundary Area of Shared Beringian Heritage and on Enhancing Interregional Cooperation. The two countries already conduct some extensive and diverse scientific activities in Antarctica, and are among the original architects and signatories of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty.

Source: U.S. Department of State | U.S.-Russia Cooperation on Antarctica, Interregional Areas, and Beringia

16 August 2012

Papua New Guinea first state to approve commercial deep sea mining

The Government of Papua New Guinea has given the Canadian firm ‘Nautilus Minerals’ a 20-year licence to begin their so-called ‘Solwara 1’ project. This is the first commercial deep seabed mining project in the world, aiming to extract gold and copper from the seafloor beneath the Bismarck Sea. Locals and environmental activists have objected in view of the environmental impacts.

Source: The Guardian | Papua New Guinea's seabed to be mined for gold and copper

20 June 2012

UN Conference on Sustainable Development launched in Rio de Janeiro

Twenty years after the landmark Earth Summit, world leaders are meeting again in Rio de Janeiro to discuss issues of sustainable development from 20 to 22 June. Negotiators only agreed yesterday on a text for a final declaration to be signed later this week.

Source: BBC | Rio+20: Agreement reached, say diplomats

15 June 2012

EU agrees to ban fishing discards

On 13 June 2012, the fisheries ministers of the European Union (EU) agreed to ban the dumping of healthy and edible fish catches back into the sea, which is done by fishermen to remain within the EU quotas and to maximise profits. However, the starting dates of phasing in the ban for different species are subject to further negotiations.

Environmental campaigners urged European politicians to stop this wasteful practice. The agreed reforms, changing the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to eliminate the discards, are seen as an important step towards a sustainable fisheries policy. However, experts fear that these measures will come too late for certain fish stocks.

Source: The Guardian | Fishing discards practice thrown overboard by EU
Source: The Guardian | Will the fishing discard deal be enough to save fish stocks?

22 May 2012

Airlines refuse to report their emissions in the context of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme

After several states have criticised the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), now two airlines from India and eight airlines from China have refused to report to the European Union (EU) the amount of carbon dioxide they have emitted last year.

The ETS is applied to all airlines that use airports in the EU since January, aiming to charge carriers for the pollution they cause. Many states have criticised this system, on the ground that the EU would lack the power to enforce their laws on non-European carriers, or on the ground that the carbon tax which is imposed by the EU, is a “disguised” trade measure, taken unilaterally in the name of combatting climate change.

Source: BBC | Airlines 'are conforming' with EU rules on emissions

22 May 2012

Biodiversity and sustainable production of natural resources threatened by over-consumption and overpopulation

Over-consumption and over-population pose a threat to the future health of our planet, because they both threaten the biodiversity of the Earth. The Earth is put under severe stress according to the ‘Living Planet Report’, a biennial survey on the Earth’s health of The World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The report, appearing ahead of the June Rio plus 20 Summit, documents that since 1970, on an average, a 30% decrease in biodiversity has been noted, with even a 60% decrease in tropical regions. This decrease is notably more rapid in lower income countries.

Source: Al Jazeera | 'Over-consumption' threatening Earth

9 May 2012

EU contributions to the ‘Green Climate Fund’ uncertain after 2012

Negotiations on the amount of money European Union (EU) member states will contribute to the ‘Green Climate Fund’ after 2012 (for the period 2013-2020) have been unsuccessful so far. In light of the economic crisis, some of the EU member states argue against any firm commitment to contribute to the Climate Fund after 2012.

The Green Climate Fund was established by international agreement within the framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aiming to provide financial support for developing States to cope with the effects of climate change. Although the aim of this fund was to raise up to 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, the EU member states have merely given a clear pledge for funding until the end of 2012.

Source: Reuters | EU nations get cold feet over climate change fund

13 April 2012

European Parliament’s delegation leader argues for the establishment of an International Court of the Environment

The leader of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Rio de Janeiro summit on sustainable development has argued for the establishment of an International Court to enforce agreements on the natural environment. He submits that ‘like human rights, the right to a clean natural environment and the preservation of plants and animal life is universal. Only by enforcing these rights internationally can we transform those fine words on sustainability into deeds.’  The article does not clarify whether this plea reflects the Parliament’s institutional position.

Source: Trouw | 'Met een Milieugerechtshof kunnen we duurzaamheid afdwingen' (in Dutch only)

10 April 2012

Concerns over India rivers order

An order of the Supreme Court of India has instructed the Indian government to proceed with a, long delayed, plan to link more than 30 rivers and divert the waters to areas that are water-stressed. If the project materializes it could have significant impact on Bangladesh, a downstream state. The project could benefit from the building of dams and reservoirs both in Nepal and/or Bhutan, two upstream states. Bangladeshi and Nepalese authorities claim that they have not been consulted with as yet while Bhutan claims that it has not appraised the project.

Source: BBC | Concerns over India rivers order

10 April 2012

Arab Spring resulted not only from repressive regimes, but also from underlying climate changes

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman explains how the Arab spring was driven not only by political and economic stresses, but, less visibly, by environmental, population and climate stresses as well. He notes: ´If we focus only on the former and not the latter, we will never be able to help stabilize these societies´.

Source: New York Times | The Other Arab Spring

19 February 2012

States consider countermeasures against Europe, after Europe responds to collective failure to reduce greenhouse emissions from aviation

The New York Times reports that China, the United States and two dozen other countries are looking at coordinated countermeasures against Europe — including putting pressure on European airlines and other industries — if Europe tries to enforce a law requiring airlines to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions.

The European measures are in part a response to the failure of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to move quickly enough to establish standards and goals for greenhouse gases from aviation, as required under the Kyoto climate treaty 15 years ago. Article 2(2) of the Kyoto Protocol stipulates that Annex I parties ‘shall pursue limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol from aviation and marine bunker fuels, working through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization, respectively.’

Source: New York Times | Countries Seek Retaliation to Europe’s Carbon Tax on Airlines

7 February 2012

Palau reiterates call for ICJ Advisory Opinion on responsibility for climate change

After that deliberations on a possible General Assembly resolution began in New York, the President of Palau, Johnson Toribiong, said that actions by individual States are not enough to ‘stem the rising tides or the flood of global emissions’ and that an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice is an appropriate recourse that ‘will give us the guidance we need on what all states must do.’ In the view of the Palauan President ‘the small island states are least responsible’. Palau also intends ‘to raise the consciousness of the world community to the issue of responsibility’ in the process.

Palau had announced plans in September to seek an Advisory Opinion on whether countries have a legal responsibility to ensure that any activities on their territory that emit greenhouse gases do not harm other states.

Source: UN multimedia | ICJ / Climate change

17 January 2012

Iceland minister calls for joint responsibility of coastal States for ensuring sustainable fishery

In a column on, the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture of Iceland Steingrímur J. Sigfússon called for cooperative efforts of Iceland, the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands regarding the upcoming negotiations of an agreement on the regulation of mackerel fisheries in the North-East Atlantic. Sigfússon insisted that the ‘coastal states carry a joint responsibility for preventing further overfishing from the mackerel stock and ensuring sustainable fishery’ and ‘they must all contribute to reaching an agreement.


15 December 2011

Canada announces exit from Kyoto Protocol

One day after the end of the UN Climate Talks in Durban, Canada declared that it would make use of its right to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. Under the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, Canada must formally give notice of its intention to withdraw by the end of this year or else face penalties after 2012, which could amount up to 14 billion USD.

Source: – Canada Announces Exit From Kyoto Climate Treaty

12 December 2011

UN Climate Talks in Durban End with Limited Agreement

On Sunday 11 December 2011, the 17th Conference under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ended with an agreement to work on a new global treaty in coming years and to establish a new climate fund.


28 November 2011

Tuna fished ‘illegally’ during Libya conflict

Evidence has emerged of unregulated tuna fishing in Libyan waters during this year’s conflict. EU boats are implicated in the fishing, which the European Commission believes could be judged illegal. The issue led to heated discussion at the recent Istanbul meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), where it was decided that research will be carried out into the events.

Source: BBC News – Tuna fished ‘illegally’ during Libya conflict

24 November 2011

IPCC: Climate impact risk set to increase

A Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the findings of which were presented at the IPCC’s 34th Session in Kampala, Uganda, says that the risk from extreme weather events is likely to increase if the world continues to warm. IPCC scientists also consider it “very likely” that emissions had led to an increase in daily maximum temperatures. The report further adds that emissions caused some regions to experience longer and more intense droughts.


15 November 2011

UN Secretary-General warns that poorest countries cannot bear the costs of climate change alone

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged governments in rich nations to work around troubled economic times and scale up donations to a global climate change fund that is at risk of becoming an “empty shell”.


5 October 2011

Proposed global climate agreement aims to overcome divisions

Australia and Norway put forth a new proposal to secure a global agreement on climate change by 2015 amid deep divisions between rich and poor countries over the ways to combat global warming.


26 September 2011

Palau Plans to Seek ICJ Advisory Opinion on Climate Change

The Pacific island nation of Palau announced plans on 22 September 2011 to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on whether countries have a legal responsibility to ensure that any activities on their territory that emit greenhouse gases do not harm other States.


14 September 2011

Beyond Adjudication: Resolving International Resource Disputes in an Era of Climate Change

Given the need for cooperation in order to address the threats caused by climate change, Anna Spain argues that climate change demands new ways of understanding our approaches to resolving international disputes. This challenge is briefly explored in a blogpost on IntLawGrrls and more elaborately discussed in her article “Beyond Adjudication: Resolving International Resource Disputes in an Era of Climate Change“.


7 June 2011

Forum: Is Extreme Weather Linked to Global Warming?

Climate change, and how to share the responsibility for (minimizing) it, is a hot topic, but also a problematic topic. The complex chains of causation make it hard, if not impossible, to establish responsibility and liability for the harms and effects associated with climate change. On the Yale Environment 360 forum eight leading climate scientists have made a contribution to the current debate on causation that could be of legal relevance as well.