Environment, Land & Resources

EU Launches €1 Trillion European Green Deal Investment Plan

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, Green Finance

The European Commission has also established a mechanism to assist the transition of regions that will be more profoundly impacted by the 2050 carbon-neutrality target.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

On 11 December 2019, the European Union announced that it would enshrine into legislation its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 (see “EU Commission Formally Announces European Green Deal”). The European Green Deal Investment Plan serves as the European Commission’s (Commission’s) primary vehicle through which funding commitments will be made by seeking to mobilise €1 trillion of public sector and private sector investments. The Commission has also established the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) to assist those regions that will be more profoundly impacted by the economic and social transformation envisaged. Continue Reading

Financing the Road to Green

Posted in Environmental Regulation, Green Finance

How companies that are unable to issue green bonds can still participate in sustainable finance.

By Paul A. Davies, Aaron E. Franklin, and Kristina S. Wyatt

If the 2010s were the decade in which green bonds took hold, the 2020s will be the decade in which sustainable finance hits the broader marketplace. The green bond market has hit its stride, with issuances reaching well over US$200 billion in 2019. Attaining that figure is quite an accomplishment, considering that the first green bond appeared in 2007. While the green bond market will likely continue to grow, sustainable finance is expected to extend well beyond the strictures of traditional green bonds to embrace sustainability priorities beyond environmentalism and products other than bonds. Continue Reading

Dutch Supreme Court Confirms Government’s Obligation to Reduce Emissions

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, Environmental Litigation, Environmental Regulation

Court finds the Netherlands’ 20% greenhouse gas emissions target to be unacceptable, citing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the ECHR.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

On 20 December 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal ruling in the Urgenda case, determining that the Dutch State was required to reduce Dutch greenhouse gas emissions by 25%[i] by the end of 2020. This decision marked the final ruling in a series of cases dating back to 2015.

In 2015, environmental nongovernmental organization, the Urgenda Foundation (Urgenda), brought a case against the Dutch State, alleging that the national target for greenhouse gas emission reductions was insufficient. The Dutch target at that time was the EU-wide figure of 20% compared to 1990 levels. According to Urgenda, the risks of climate change meant that the 20% target was insufficient, and only a decrease of at least 25% would be adequate.

The Hague District Court at first instance agreed with Urgenda, and ordered emissions be reduced by 25% by 2020, a finding that was initially confirmed by the Hague Court of Appeal in 2018. Now, the Dutch Supreme Court has followed suit. Continue Reading

IMO 2020: New Shipping Fuel Requirements Enter Into Force

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change

Ship owners face increased compliance costs with lowering of sulphur oxide limit for shipping fuels.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

January 1, 2020 marked the implementation of the new sulphur oxide limit for shipping fuel imposed by the International Maritime Organisation under the MARPOL Convention, often referred to as IMO 2020. IMO 2020 intends to improve global air quality and protect the environment through these measures, but concerns have been raised regarding the increased expenses that the maritime sector will face in order to comply with the new standards. This blog post considers the requirements under IMO 2020, how they will be enforced, and the solutions companies may utilise to ensure compliance. Continue Reading

EPA’s Proposed Coal Ash Permit Program: 6 Key Points

Posted in Contaminated Properties & Waste, Environmental Regulation, Power, Oil, Gas and Minerals, Project Siting and Approval

The proposed federal permitting regime includes some surprising provisions, including no permit expiration and no proposed application deadline for most units.

By Claudia M. O’Brien and Stacey L. VanBelleghem

On December 19, 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed rule to establish a federal permitting program under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR), also known as coal ash, in surface impoundments and landfills. EPA’s 2015 CCR rule established self-implementing requirements for the management of CCR. In 2016, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which authorized states to submit for EPA approval state CCR permit programs to implement the federal CCR rule requirements. The WIIN Act also required EPA to implement a federal CCR permit program in Indian country and in states that do not have an approved permitting program.

The proposed rule, titled Hazardous and Solid Waste Management System: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities; Federal CCR Permit Program (Proposed CCR Permitting Rule), would establish this federal permitting backstop. Continue Reading

Environmental and Social Policy in China: What Will 2020 Hold?

Posted in China, Green Finance

MEE declares full steam ahead on China’s environmental initiatives, including an NGDF, private sector finance, Yangtze River conservation, and the social credit system.

By Paul A. Davies and Zoe Liu

Xu Bijiu, director general of the general office of China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), has given the clearest signal to date that China’s environmental ambitions will not be impeded by the projected slowdown of the Chinese economy.

Dismissing suggestions that increased environmental protection had led to downward pressures on the economy in recent years, Xu stated that China has, in fact, benefitted from a “harmonious, win-win relationship” between economic development and increased environmental protection. Xu confirmed that the pollution targets MEE set last year for the end of 2020 would not be altered, despite the fact that some areas of the country (such as Hunan in south-central China) missed their PM 2.5 air quality targets in 2019. Continue Reading

Carbon Capture Updates From the COP 25

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, Energy Regulatory

Non-governmental organizations release new studies and reports on new developments in carbon capture, usage, and storage technology.

By Jean-Philippe Brisson, Christopher G. Cross, Paul J. Hunt, Eli M. Katz, Joshua T. Bledsoe, Benjamin W. Einhouse, and Taylor R. West

At the 25th annual Conference of Parties (COP 25) United Nations Climate Summit, held in December 2019 in Madrid, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups submitted reports and studies on the latest developments in environmental technology. Several organizations, including the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum, the Global CCS Institute, and the National Petroleum Council of the United States, submitted reports on the use and future development of carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) technologies.

Innovation for Cool Earth Forum

The Innovation for Cool Earth Forum (ICEF), an organization that organizes an annual conference hosted by Japan’s Prime Minister that brings international leaders together to tackle climate change, published a roadmap for Industrial Heat Decarbonization in December 2019 (the Roadmap).[i] The Roadmap outlines how the use of industrial heat must be changed to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, specifically discussing the issue of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The Roadmap further notes that industrial heat is particularly important due to the fact that roughly 10% of all GHG emissions come from industrial heat production. The Roadmap discusses the use of heat in a variety of industries, including cement, iron, and steel, as well as chemical production. Generally, the Roadmap discusses solutions that include the use of low-carbon energy sources such as hydrogen combustion and biomass burning, and electrical sources such as resistance heating, microwaves, induction, and electric arc furnaces. Moreover, the Roadmap discusses the role of CCUS in reducing the carbon produced in the creation of industrial heat. Continue Reading