John A. Lee

All articles by John A. Lee

 

What’s at Stake? Two Different Approaches to Climate Change – Part II The NHTSA Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Rule Draft Environmental Impact Statement

As introduced in Part I of this two part posting, two recently released documents – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, Global Warming of 1.5°C Summary for Policymakers (IPCC Summary), issued on October 8, 2018, and the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Year 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in July 2018 – provide a stark contrast in how to respond to the threat
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What’s at Stake? Two Different Approaches to Climate Change – Part I: The IPCC Summary for Policymakers

Two recently released documents – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, Global Warming of 1.5°Summary for Policymakers (IPCC Summary), issued last week, and the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Year 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks Draft Environmental Impact Statement (NHTSA EIS), issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in July 2018 – provide a stark contrast in how to respond to the threat posed by climate change. The first document, and subject of this post – the IPCC Summary – issues a drastic call to action to the world
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Sub-National Efforts to Tackle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Take up the Slack

Given the Trump Administration’s position on climate change, one could easily become discouraged that any meaningful progress can be made in reaching the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) set for the United States under the 2015 Paris Agreement to stabilize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to keep anthropogenic warming to below 2°C. Under the Paris Agreement, the United States is tasked with reducing its GHG emissions by 26-28 percent below its 2005 emissions by 2025. Such pessimism might not be completely warranted, however, despite the Trump Administration’s notice that the United States is pulling out of the Paris Agreement.
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Kivalina and AEP Claim Another Victim – New York Climate Change Suit Falls

Like the proverbial acid relentlessly burning its way through materials in which it comes in contact, the relentless reasoning underlying the Am. Elec. Power Co., Inc. v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011) (AEP) and Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobile Corp., 696 F.3d 849 (9th Cir. 2012) (Kivalina) climate lawsuits has claimed another victim. After taking out the lawsuits filed by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland earlier this summer (Order), Kivalina and AEP now have been used to eliminate the climate change suit filed by the City of
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Kivalina and AEP Strike Again – Oakland and San Francisco Climate Change Suits Dismissed

By Order dated June 25, 2018, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the lawsuits filed by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland seeking compensation from five of the world’s largest energy producers for the costs of adapting to climate change allegedly caused in part by these companies’ sale of fossil fuels. This dismissal brings to an end, at least temporarily, to two of the fourteen second-generation climate change lawsuits that have been filed
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400 Months and Counting – Warm Temperatures Continue!

Despite the miserable cold and wet April weather experienced by most of the eastern half of North America, April 2018 turned out to be the third warmest April on record, continuing a streak of 400 continuous months (33 years) where the monthly average temperature was above the 20th century average. Only April 2016 and April 2017 were warmer. Nine of the 10 warmest Aprils have occurred since 2005. Especially notable was the possibility that the city of Nawabshah, located in
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Climate Change Lawsuits Heat Up – The City of Boulder, Boulder County, and San Miguel County Join the Mix

On April 17, 2018, the City of Boulder, Boulder County, and San Miguel County, all in Colorado, collectively became the latest government entities to file suit against some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, seeking compensation for the costs of adapting to climate change in their communities.   Non-coastal suits arrive: The Colorado suit, similar to all the previously filed government suits, alleges that the defendants’ greenhouse gas products are directly responsible for current and future physical impacts
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The Coming Battle Between California and EPA Over Vehicle Fuel Standards — The Implications for CO2 Emissions and Climate Change

Two weeks ago, we reported on potential moves by the EPA to weaken fuel economy standards, and in doing so, picking a fight with California and the state’s ability to set its own emission rules through its waiver under the Clean Air Act. Those threatened moves are now reality, as the EPA announced on Monday that current fuel economy standards will be revised. But underlying the moves to roll back fuel economy standards is the ongoing war between the Trump
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California Second Generation Climate Change Suits — Back to the Future with Federal Common Law?

An interesting battle currently is playing out in the California courts involving what can be considered a “second generation” of climate change suits that seek to hold producers of greenhouse gases responsible for the costs that government entities are forced to expend in adapting to climate change. In July 2017, three California government entities — Marin and San Mateo Counties, along with the City of Imperial Beach — filed suit in California Superior Court against some of the world’s largest
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The Push for Repeal of Environmental Regulations: One Year into the Trump Administration, Where Do We Stand?

As we move a little more than a year into the Trump Administration, it probably is time to take a look at where we are in regards to the administration’s publicly stated goal of repealing environmental regulations, many of which are related to climate change. In that context, the New York Times, National Geographic Society, Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, and Harvard University’s Environmental Law Program, are great sources, providing useful tracking information and updates regarding
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The Social Cost of Carbon — A Crucially Important Number Few Have Heard of and its Potential Impact on Environmental Regulations

There is a number few have heard of underlying many environmental regulations that are directly related to climate change — the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). As noted in a recent article in The Economist, climate economists refer to the SCC as “the most important number you’ve never heard of.” Essentially, the SCC attempts to capture in a single number how much “damage” a one-ton release of CO2 today will have in the future, expressed in today’s dollars. Of course,
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July 2017 Tied for Warmest Month on Record; Gives Further Support to Recently Released Climate Change Special Report

Following the release by the New York Times of a draft copy of a Climate Change Special Report (CSSR) prepared to provide the scientific basis of the upcoming 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment—as if perfectly planned for maximum effect, according to an analysis released on August 15 by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)— July 2017 was the warmest July on record (since 1880), and statistically tied with the warmest month on record of August 2016.  (GISTEMP Team, 2017: GISS
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Recent Efforts in California to Address Climate Change – New Twists on Established Strategies

As the world continues to confront the reality of a changing climate resulting from anthropogenic (human caused) releases of greenhouse gasses since the dawn of the industrial age, efforts to slow the increase of average global temperatures and combat the worst effects of that temperature rise have taken various tracks — from large-scale international agreements such as the Paris Accord (COP23) and the Kyoto Protocol, to legislative attempts such as cap-and-trade programs, to lawsuits based on international, federal, and state
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How Will Businesses and the Insurance Industry Respond to the Growing Threat of Climate Change?

The ability of the global insurance industry to manage society’s risks likely will be significantly impacted by climate change in coming years. The ClimateWise report recently confirmed that since the 1950s the frequency of weather-related catastrophes has increased six-fold. As these risks occur more often, previously insurable assets are becoming uninsurable, and those already underinsured are further compromised. The overall consequences can be far reaching and as yet, we are not able to comprehend the vast nature of the risk.
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