Ecological catastrophy

ITLOS Issues Historic Advisory Opinion on Climate Change and International Law

On May 21, 2024, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) published what has been deemed as an “historic” and “unprecedented” advisory opinion on climate change, international law, and on state obligations regarding climate change. Sought by the international organization called the Commission of Small Island States (COSIS), the historic nature of this opinion comes from the fact that this is the first time an international tribunal has issued an opinion clarifying the international law obligations on states binding them to protect …

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business report on digital tablet

With Mounting Litigation from Multiple Courts, SEC Stays its New Climate Disclosure Rules

Last month, our readers will recall that we reported on some pushback raised regarding the new climate disclosure rules promulgated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requiring publicly traded registrants to provide certain climate-related information in future registration documents and annual reports (the “Final Rules”).

As SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said in a press release announcing the new disclosure rules, the Final Rules were meant to “reflect the Commission’s efforts to respond to investors’ demand for more consistent, comparable, and reliable information …

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New Zealand flag

New Zealand Supreme Court Allows Private Plaintiff’s Novel Climate Change Tort Claim to Go to Trial

The Supreme Court of New Zealand recently removed some significant roadblocks to bringing private law claims against major corporate greenhouse (GHG) emitters with a decision made in the case of Smith v. Fonterra.

The decision marks what is seen as one of the first occasions where a court in common law recognized the possibility that private lawsuits can be used to challenge the greenhouse emissions of a privately held company.

In its unanimous decision, the New Zealand court overturned a lower court’s earlier decision …

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Stack of papers paperwork on office desk table. With copy space.

New SEC Climate Disclosure Mandate Faces Pushback

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week approved the implementation of standardized climate disclosure rules (posted here) for publicly traded companies and in public offerings. No longer can companies simply post potential risks on their websites or through emails; rather, they must now include them in official SEC filings such as annual reports and registration statements.

The overarching goal is intended to enhance transparency concerning how companies address environmental and climate threats. The SEC’s decision was also the result of investors’ demand for …

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Low angle view of airplane flying against sky,Tallinn Airport,Estonia

FAA to Implement Final Rules for Most Large Aircraft to be Built

As part of the United States Aviation Climate Action Plan – which strives to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions for United States Aviation by 2050 – the Federal Aviation Administration announced earlier this month its final rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from most large aircraft in U.S. airspace. 

The new rules go into effect on April 16, and requires aircraft built after January 1, 2028 to incorporate more fuel efficient technologies. The rule applies to aircraft of certain sizes, regardless of the fuel …

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A River Runs Through Glacier National Park in Montana

Green Amendments and the Rise of Environmental Constitutional Rights

There has been a recent push across the country placing “green amendments” at the forefront of the fight to combat climate change and promote environmental justice. Analogous to the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, such as freedom of speech or freedom of religion, a green amendment is an amendment to a state Constitution’s Bill of Rights that guarantees its citizens the inalienable right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. These amendments serve to create a constitutional mandate that every citizen has a …

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Oil field with rigs and pumps at sunset. World Oil Industry

Supreme Court Denies Petition for Certiorari in Minnesota’s Climate Case Against Petroleum Leaders

In June 2020, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sued ExxonMobil, three Koch entities, and the American Petroleum Institute — (energy companies and affiliates that produce or sell fossil fuels around the world and an industry association) — on behalf of the State of Minnesota, alleging that the defendants knowingly engaged in a “decades-long campaign of deception about the fossil fuel industry’s actual contributions to, and true costs of, climate change.”  The lawsuit includes claims for fraud, failure to warn, and multiple separate violations of state …

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Smoke and fumes

EPA Announces Final Rule to Reduce Methane and Combat Climate Change

In recent years, the global concentration of methane present in the atmosphere has increased dramatically. In fact, in 2021, methane increased by almost 18 parts per billion in the atmosphere, the largest single year increase since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s records began in 1984. Last year was no exception, as atmospheric methane increased by 14 parts per billion, the fourth largest recorded increase.

These numbers are significant because methane is known as a “super pollutant” that is many times more potent than carbon …

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Flags - United Nations

COP28 Starts Out with a Bang by Creating a Fund Aimed at Helping Vulnerable Countries

On the first day of the two-week United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, more commonly referred to as COP28, delegates reached a landmark agreement to formerly create a Loss and Damage Fund, a rescue and rehabilitation effort to support especially vulnerable countries dealing with the irreversible and costly effects of climate change.

First suggested in 1991 by the small island nation of Vanuatu, the fund is aimed at encouraging the wealthy and major polluting nations to assist poorer states harmed by …

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Smoke and fumes

Multiple States Seen Ramping Up Their Efforts to Facilitate Carbon Capture and Sequestration Projects

Several states have implemented steps to build up legislative frameworks needed for carbon-capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS) projects in the first half of 2023.

CCUS refers to the process of capturing carbon-dioxide emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants, and either reuses or stores the CO2 so it will not enter the atmosphere. CO2 can also be captured directly from the atmosphere with the right technology. CCUS technologies also provide a foundation for carbon removal or “negative emissions” when the CO2 comes from bio-based processes …

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