Sabin Center Releases Its Summer/Fall 2022 Semi-annual Report


Posted on January 23rd, 2023 by Tiffany Challe-Campiz

The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law posted its Summer/Fall 2022 Semi-Annual Report, which includes a summary of the Center’s key activities between June and December 2022.

It is available for download here.

Below are some highlights from the report:

  • Michael Gerrard received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Law Journal for his career in environmental law in academia and private practice.
  • Amy Turner has taken on a leading role in advising local governments on the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). She also authored blog posts and was a guest speaker on a podcast on the topic. Others at the Sabin Center, including Michael Gerrard, have also spoken about the IRA in television interviews and other forums.
  • Maria Antonia Tigre continues to build out the Peer Review Network on Global Climate Litigation, which includes rapporteurs from around the world who help to ensure the Center’s global climate litigation database is up to date. Maria Antonia and others at the Sabin Center, including Michael Burger, have also recently given numerous talks on climate litigation – on recent developments in climate law in the U.S. and abroad, as well as on rights-based climate lawsuits and trends.
  • Romany Webb, Korey Silverman-Roati and Carolina Arlota have been highly active in the Negative Emissions space, giving numerous talks at conferences, forums and roundtables. Romany Webb was appointed to several steering committees convened by, among others, the National Sea Grant Law Center and the American Geophysical Union. She also gave a briefing to Congressional staffers on the 2022 National Academies of Sciences’ report on “A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration.”
  • The Renewable Energy Legal Defense Initiative (RELDI) continues to represent community groups and local residents who support renewable energy development, including local farmers in Ohio and local landowners in Michigan.
  • The Sabin Center launched a new project with WE ACT for Environmental Justice to develop model legislation related to environmental justice, cumulative impact analysis, and permit renewals for polluting facilities.
  • The Center continues to maintain the Model Laws for Deep Decarbonization in the United States website. More than thirty pro bono law firms are at work drafting model laws as part of this project. The Center is currently cooperating with legal scholars in Brazil and Australia who are undertaking similar projects in those countries.
  • The Center sponsored/co-sponsored numerous online and in-person events and conferences and published articles on a variety of topics, including:

 

To learn more about our work, read the report here.

By Matthew Eisenson

In March 2021, the Biden Administration announced a target of deploying 30,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity by 2030, enough energy to power approximately 10 million homes. As of May 31, 2022, only 42 MW of offshore wind capacity was in operation, less than 1% of the Administration’s 30,000-MW target. While very few offshore wind projects have been completed, the U.S. Department of Energy has reported that projects comprising more than 40,000 MW of capacity are in the pipeline at various stages of development.

One such project is Empire Offshore Wind, which would add 2,086 MW of capacity to the country’s offshore wind portfolio, approximately 7% of the Biden Administration’s deployment goal. As proposed, Empire Wind would include up to 147 wind turbines more than 14 miles from shore in the shallow waters of the New York Bight between Long Island and New Jersey.

Read more »

By Maria Antonia Tigre & Juan Sebastian Castellanos

 

In December 2021, the Sabin Center launched the Peer Review Network of Global Climate Litigation (Network), through which practitioners and scholars from the around the world act as “rapporteurs” for their jurisdictions, helping to update and maintain the Global Climate Change Litigation database (see also here and here). In its first year, the Network reviewed, analyzed, and updated multiple cases from the database and helped identify and add new cases from nearly 40 different jurisdictions. However, the work done by the rapporteurs and the discussions that arose from monthly meetings surpassed our expectations, leading to a wide range of outputs covering diverse topics within climate litigation through multiple mediums.

The Network, led by Dr. Maria Antonia Tigre, connects like-minded scholars and practitioners and engages in conversations on the legal arguments and strategies adopted in climate litigation. Through monthly meetings, rapporteurs can share updates on climate litigation in their jurisdictions and discuss common topics of interest, leading to further collaborations and research expansions.  This blog post highlights the work done by the Network in 2022 and shares some of the plans for 2023.

Read more »

By Carolina Arlota and Korey Silverman-Roati

Support for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is growing globally. Governments are, it seems, beginning to listen to the growing chorus of scientists who have warned that deploying CDR is essential to avoid catastrophic climate change. Government funding for research and deployment of CDR is increasing. Many governments are beginning to include at least some form of CDR in their portfolio of climate policies and international commitments. Yet, key issues around definitions, guidance, and climate governance remain.

The recent boost for CDR is linked to an emerging trend in climate policy which understands CDR as supplemental to urgent action on decarbonization and overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions (rather than a replacement for those activities). In its Sixth Assessment Report, released last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that global carbon dioxide emissions must reach net-zero by the early 2050s to limit warming to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC further concluded, with high confidence, that the deployment of CDR to “counterbalance hard-to-abate residual emissions is unavoidable if net-zero carbon dioxide or GHG emissions are to be achieved.” Given this, support for CDR, and inclusion of CDR in climate policy, is increasing worldwide. While countries generally do not explicitly reference CDR in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted to the Paris Agreement, many include the CDR approaches of increasing soil and forest carbon. Some parties are also starting to include CDR in their Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategies (LT-LEDs), which are optional but encouraged under the Paris Agreement, and address scenarios from 2050 and beyond. Read more »

By Maria Antonia Tigre

 

Just transition litigation is a novel and under-researched field. Today, the Sabin Center’s launches a new report that analyzes 20 just transition cases from Latin America, filling an important gap in existing research by increasing the visibility of affirmative actions for just transition from the Global South and improving our understanding of the phenomenon of just transition litigation through novel developments in Latin America specifically.

Read more »

A look back at significant decisions in climate litigation in 2022


Posted on December 22nd, 2022 by mariatigre

By Maria Antonia Tigre

Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash

As noted at the end of last year, 2021 was significant for climate litigation, with several decisions worldwide providing a fresh look at stakeholder responsibility for climate change. 2022 was no different, with courts further delineating the procedural dimensions of climate cases and expanding on the responsibilities of stakeholders for climate mitigation and adaption. This post highlights some of the most impactful decisions from courts, tribunals, and quasi-judicial bodies in climate litigation over the last year and their significance for future trends.

A landmark decision recognizing the impacts of climate change on human rights

In September this year, the U.N. Human Rights Committee (Committee) handed down a landmark decision in Daniel Billy and others v Australia, holding that Australia is violating its human rights obligations to the indigenous Torres Strait Islanders through climate change inaction. Based on the indigenous group’s challenge of Australia’s lacking mitigation and adaptation measures, the Committee recognized that climate change was currently impacting the claimants’ daily lives and, to the extent that their rights are being violated, that Australia’s poor climate record is a violation of their right to family life and right to culture under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rrights (see a detailed analysis of the decision here and more about Indigenous groups’ role in climate litigation here).

Read more »

By Romany M. Webb

       Photo Credit: Oran Viriyincy (flickr)

Last Thursday, December 15, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) seeking comments on proposed changes to its regulations governing the siting of interstate electric transmission lines. FERC is proposing the changes to implement section 40105 of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) which expanded the scope of federal authority over transmission siting. That was historically an area of exclusive state jurisdiction but, with frustrations mounting over the slow pace of transmission development, FERC looks set to play an increasing role in the approval of new infrastructure. This could help to accelerate build-out of the transmission system—something that is urgently needed to facilitate increased renewable generation. It is, however, important that the build-out occurs in a way that does not cause undue harm to the environment, local landowners, or other stakeholders. The regulatory changes proposed by FERC appear designed to achieve these dual goals but challenges remain.

Read more »

Staff News: Ilmi Granoff Joins the Sabin Center as a Senior Fellow


Posted on December 19th, 2022 by Tiffany Challe-Campiz

Ilmi Granoff has joined the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law as a Senior Fellow. Ilmi is an attorney and climate and sustainable finance expert with over two decades of experience—spanning public, private, and third-sector institutions—working on the policy and financing of the transition to a net-zero greenhouse gas, sustainable economy. He serves as a trusted advisor, manager, and fiduciary for philanthropies, governments, financial institutions, and companies on sustainable finance and policy matters in the US, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. He is also a member of the Climate-related Financial Risk Advisory Committee (CFRAC) of the Financial Stability Oversight Council at the US Department of the Treasury, a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, and a principal at the strategic advisory firm Climate Technology Group. Previously, Ilmi served as a Senior Director at the ClimateWorks Foundation, headed the Green Growth Business Unit at the Overseas Development Institute, served as the Special Counsel for Climate and Environment at the African Development Bank, practiced law in the global energy and infrastructure group at Freshfields, and worked at the United Nations Development Program. He holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, master’s degrees in international relations and environmental science from Yale University, and a B.A. (High Honors) from Swarthmore College.

We are thrilled to have Ilmi on board and look forward to sharing his work.

 

 

By Matthew Eisenson

On December 2, 2022, the Renewable Energy Legal Defense Initiative (RELDI), in collaboration with the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, filed an amicus brief on behalf of five New York farmers and three community groups urging a New York appellate court to uphold the State’s new regulations for siting renewable energy projects. In our brief, we argue that the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) did not violate the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) when it promulgated regulations to implement the new siting process, because, among other reasons, ORES took a “hard look” at the potential impacts of the new regulations. The case is proceeding in the Appellate Division, Third Department, of the New York State Supreme Court under the caption Town of Copake et al. v. New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting et al., Docket Nos. 534318, 534413.

As previously reported on this blog, in April 2020, the New York Legislature enacted a law that created a new state agency, ORES, to take responsibility for permitting “major renewable energy facilities,” which include: (a) renewable energy facilities of at least 25 megawatts (MW); (b) co-located energy storage systems; and (c) associated electric transmission systems less than 10 miles in length. Developers of renewable energy facilities of at least 20 MW but less than 25 MW may also submit applications to ORES. The new law allows ORES to set aside local laws on a case by case basis if the agency determines that the laws, as applied to a particular facility, are “unreasonably burdensome” in view of New York state’s climate goals, as set out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and “the environmental benefits of the proposed renewable energy facility.” The law also imposes statutory deadlines on agency decision-makers: in most cases, ORES is required to make decisions on issuing permits for renewable energy facilities within one year of determining that an application is complete.

Read more »

Sabin Center’s Amy Turner Tapped for NYC Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board


Posted on December 9th, 2022 by Tiffany Challe-Campiz

  Manhattan, New York

On December 8, New York City Mayor Eric Adams appointed 26 board members to the New York City Sustainability Advisory Board to guide the city’s long-term resiliency and sustainability goals. Sabin Center senior fellow Amy Turner is among the new board members. The board will advise Chief Climate Officer and DEP Commissioner Rohit Aggarwala and the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice’s (MOCEJ) Executive Director Kizzy Charles-Guzmán on the city and climate and sustainability strategy in connection with a forthcoming update to the city’s PlaNYC climate plan, which is set to be released in April 2023.

“New York City has some of the most ambitious and equitable climate policy in the country,” said Amy Turner. “I am thrilled to be working with this distinguished group and committed to New York City’s resilient, equitable, and low-greenhouse gas future.”

Amy co-authored the Sabin Center’s 2021 report Cities Climate Law: A Legal Framework for Local Action in the U.S., which delineates the legal aspects of local greenhouse gas reduction policy. We are proud of Amy’s appointment and look forward to seeing how her expertise on city climate law will contribute to New York City’s climate goals.

Disclaimer

This blog provides a forum for legal and policy analysis on a variety of climate-related issues. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Climate Change Law.

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