Chinese Premier Vows Tougher Regulation on Air Pollution

New York Times BEIJING — Premier Li Keqiang of China said on Sunday that the government was failing to satisfy public demands to stanch pollution and would impose heavier punishments to cut the toxic smog that was the subject of a popular documentary belatedly banned by censors.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/16/world/asia/chinese-premier-li-keqiang-vows-tougher-regulation-on-air-pollution.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Stimson Centre/NREM Conference in Chiang Rai

Stimson Centre/NREM Workshop

The Stimson Centre partnered with Natural Resources and Environmental Management Centre at Mae Fah Leung University to a hold a workshop on Solutions to Equitable Hydropower Development Planning in the Lower Mekong Basin.

Matthew Baird, Environmental Counsel, presented a paper on the Legal Issues Surrounding the Mekong Main Stream Dams. This paper highlighted the increasing legal and financial risk for Mekong River hydro-power, including the Xayaburi Dam, as a consequence of the developments of environmental law in Thailand and also the development of EIA and Transboundary EIA in Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and China.

Abstract of paper

The development of large-scale hydro-power faces many challenges. One of the significant legal risks is associated with the failure of the project proponent to undertake adequate assessment of the environmental and social impacts of the hydro-power project. Compliance with domestic Environmental Impact Assessment Regimes is, of course, a fundamental prerequisite for project approval and is also required by IFC in order to secure funding. However the consequences for the failure of a project to fully comply with EIA law is not so clear.

Recent decision in Thailand highlight a growing legal risk associated with the failure to comply with domestic legal obligations. Both the decision on the Stop-Global Warming Association against the 300 THB Billion Flood Mitigation Scheme in 2013 and the recent 2014 decision on the legal challenge to the Xayaburi Power Purchase Agreement has shown that failure to comply with domestic EIA laws can have significant legal and financial repercussions.

An analysis of these decisions leads to the overwhelming conclusion that the legal and financial risk for main-stream dams is increasing. The significance of that risk raises doubt as to the viability of future main-stream dams. One analysis of the current legal environment may also raise the question of lender-liability for environmental and social harm, whereby the banks and other financial institutions will be required to provide compensation for such harm.

In the context of the Mekong River Basin a further legal risk is the development of Transboundary EIA obligations. Under the present arrangements for the Mekong River Commission, there is a need for Prior Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement. The failure of host-countries to following these procedures can also increase the legal risk for proponents, construction companies and financial institutions.

 

 

Extra-territorial obligations Conference at Chulalongkorn University

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 9.22.18 am

“Rights-based governance beyond borders” The role of extraterritorial obligations (ETOs). 

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Co-organized by: the ETO Consortium; MA in International Development Studies (MAIDS) program, Chulalongkorn University; Focus on the Global South; the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development; and the Stockholm Environment Institute 

Background 

Human rights provide a powerful tool for environmentally sustainable development. Many States in South East Asia and elsewhere still interpret their human rights obligations as being applicable only within their own borders. The attempt to ignore extraterritorial obligations (ETOs) and to limit obligations territorially has led to gaps in human rights protection (and environmental protection) in various international political processes including: the lack of human rights regulation and accountability of transnational corporations (TNCs); the absence of human rights accountability of Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs), in particular international financial institutions (IFIs); failure to apply human rights law to investment and trade rules, policies and disputes; and the lack of implementation of the duties to protect and fulfill Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs) abroad.

These challenges were addressed in 2011 in the “Maastricht Principles on ETOs in the area of ESCRs” that summarized recent developments in international human rights treaty law. Strengthened ETOs will help to safeguard people’s rights in the region – including those of women, peasants, and indigenous communities who are often most at risk. ETOs also articulate clear standards for intergovernmental organizations, UN reform – and the international human rights framework more broadly. They are closely linked to issues on the borderline of environmental law and human rights. They help to redress the growing influence of corporations’ control over national and international governance mechanisms and to defend democratic international rule that respects, protects and fulfills economic, social and cultural human rights.

Leaders, royals work to stop illegal wildlife trade threatening elephants, rhinos

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
February 11, 2014 — Updated 1913 GMT (0313 HKT)

London (CNN) — The illegal wildlife trade takes the lives of 100 elephants a day, and rhino poaching increased by 5,000% between 2007 and 2012.

The six remaining subspecies of tiger are endangered, two of them critically. Three other tiger subspecies are already extinct.

Statistics like these are the reason it’s time to treat the effort to stop the illegal wildlife trade “like a battle, because it is precisely that,” says Britain’s Prince Charles.

He and his son, Prince William, are among the high-profile global guests due to take part in the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade on Thursday, hosted by the UK government.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/11/world/europe/uk-illegal-wildlife-summit/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

 

edition.cnn.com/2014/02/11/world/europe/uk-illegal-wildlife-summit/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

27th LAWASIA Conference 2014 – Bangkok, Thailand, 3-6 October.

LAWASIA is an international organisation of lawyers’ associations, individual lawyers, judges, legal academics, and others which focuses on the interests and concerns of the legal profession in the Asia Pacific region.

LAWASIA facilitates its members’ participation in the most dynamic economic region in the world. Since its inception in 1966, LAWASIA has built an enviable reputation among lawyers, business people and governments, both within and outside the region, as a committed, productive and genuinely representative organisation.

 

The 27th LAWASIA Conference will be held in Bangkok, Kingdom of Thailand from 3-6 October 2104.

Formal Launch of the Asian Judges Network on Environment

President Takehiko Nakao opens the Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment at the Asian Development Bank headquarters, Dec. 3, 2013. (Photo courtesy ADB)

MANILA, Philippines, December 12, 2013 (ENS) – An Asian Judges Network on Environment has been formally launched in Manila, marking a new stage of cooperation among justices charged with enforcing environmental laws and helping to preserve Asia’s natural capital.

The three-day Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment held last week drew eminent judges and representatives of courts, environment ministries, prosecutor’s offices, the legal profession, and civil society from the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

The Asian Development Bank hosted the event in partnership with the Supreme Court of Philippines, with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in attendance.

Other partners included the United Nations Environment Program, World Wildlife Fund, United States Agency for International Development, and the Freeland Foundation.

Bank President Takehiko Nakao told symposium participants, “ADB strongly supports the Network because we understand the critical role that Chief Justices and their senior judiciary play in improving environmental enforcement and strengthening the rule of law. This role includes making environmental decisions, developing environmental jurisprudence, and establishing environmental courts. It also includes championing and leading the rest of the legal profession, the law enforcement community, and broader public, toward credible rule of law systems that have integrity and promote environmental justice.”

Nakao said he is encouraged by recent developments to strengthen environmental law enforcement across Asia. “The Chief Justice of Indonesia announced his decree to certify specialist environmental judges and ensure they decide environmental cases,” he said.

“The Chief Justices of Pakistan and Malaysia have established environmental courts and judicial environmental training,” he said. “And the Chief Justices of Vietnam and Sri Lanka have committed to carry the torch forward in terms of the regional vision and national commitments into 2014,” Nakao told the symposium.

Responding to requests from across the region, the bank has established an on-line interface for all Asian Judiciaries to communicate landmark environmental judgments. The site contains the region’s environmental laws and Nakao said it will help “maintain a sense of community between face-to-face meetings.”

The bank has also supported delegations of Asian justices to join globally significant environmental events, including the Rio Conference, the Convention on Biodiversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species,” said Nakao.

Another day, another ecological disaster in China.

china-articleLarge

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/06/world/asia/huge-algae-bloom-afflicts-qingdao-china.html?smid=fb-share

 

BEIJING — In what has become an annual summer scourge, the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao has been hit by a near-record algae bloom that has left its popular beaches fouled with a green, stringy muck.

The State Oceanic Administration said an area larger than Connecticut had been affected by the mat of “sea lettuce,” as it is known in Chinese, which is generally harmless to humans but chokes off marine life and invariably chases away tourists as it begins to rot.

Some beachgoers appeared to be amused by the outbreak, at least according to the Chinese news media, which in recent days have featured images of swimmers lounging on bright green beds of algae, tossing it around with glee or piling it atop of one another as if it were sand.

Local officials, however, are less enthusiastic. Last month, they declared a “large-scale algae disaster,” sending hundreds of boats and bulldozers to clean up the waters off Qingdao, a former German concession in Shandong Province that is famous for its beer and beaches. As of Monday, about 19,800 tons of the algae had been cleared, the Qingdao government said. While valued for its nutrition — or as an ingredient in fertilizers and biomass energy production — algae in large quantities can prove dangerous as it decomposes, producing toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. It also smells like rotten eggs.

The green tide, spread over 7,500 square miles, is thought to be twice the size of an outbreak in 2008 that threatened sailing events during the Beijing Olympics, which took place near Qingdao. Officials deployed boats, helicopters and 10,000 workers to keep the waters clear for the competition.

The cleanup costs were later estimated at more than $30 million. Abalone, clam and sea cucumber farms suffered more than $100 million in damage, according to a 2011 study by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences. A 2009 outbreak was bigger.

NYT

Qingdao’s algae is generally harmless to humans, but not marine life. NYT

LAWASIA 2012, Bali, Indonesia – Sustainable Tourism

LAWASIA 2012 - Sustainable Tourism | Matthew Baird

LAWASIA 2012 - Sustainable Tourism | Matthew BairdLAWASIA 2012 – Sustainable Tourism

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