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Vibrant Environment

ACE Proposed Rule: Part I

By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

On August 21, EPA introduced its much-anticipated Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule to replace the Barack Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) Rule for regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from our nation’s aging fleet of power plants. This proposal checks off another item on the Donald Trump Administration’s deregulatory agenda and elicits a number of profound questions. What are the main differences between the ACE and the CPP? What are the implications for public health, the environment, and the electric power sector? More philosophically, why, in the 21st century, do we continue relying on a Victorian-era source of energy to power our cell phones?

A New Paradigm for Environmental Protection

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

An increasingly fast-paced technological world requires a restructuring in environmental protection strategy. In A New Environmentalism: The Need for a Total Strategy for Environmental Protection, ELI President Scott Fulton and Dave Rejeski, Director of ELI’s Technology, Innovation, and Environment Program, discuss how environmental protection could be organized and implemented in the future.

French Environment Minister’s Resignation: A Frustrated Call for Climate Action

By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, September 10, 2018

On Tuesday, August 28, French environment minister Nicolas Hulot announced he was quitting Emmanuel Macron’s government—on live radio. During his interview with France Inter, a frustrated Hulot explained, “I don’t want to give the illusion that my presence in government means we’re answering these issues properly—and so I have decided to leave the government.”

China’s Gas Shortage

By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, August 27, 2018

Recent strategies and policies to phase out coal in China have led to an increase in demand for natural gas. In October 2017, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection unveiled plans to cut harmful air pollution, especially the particularly damaging fine particulate matter known as PM2.5. The plan, or “Coal Ban,” has set strict targets on air quality levels in addition to a ban on burning coal in 28 of its northern cities, including Beijing. However, while the air quality improved significantly in Beijing this past winter, the rapid ban on coal burning and the transition to natural gas has left thousands without heat.

Green Business Wave or Greenwashing?

CounterThink: Adams & Berger (2007)
By Azi Akpan, Science and Policy Analyst; Manager, National Wetlands Awards
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Businesses historically have had a complicated relationship with the natural environment. The Industrial Revolution, marked by the boom of economic development and birth of modern business, emerged at the expense of natural resources and public health. Historical and current business activities continue to contribute to some of our most pressing global challenges, including climate change, resource scarcity, and social inequality. Concepts such as corporate social responsibility and environmental social governance attempt to establish a new relationship between business, the environment, and communities. These principles aspire to synergize business prosperity, sustainability, and social equity.

Democracy and Climate Change Mitigation: Complex Realities

Paris Accord
By Nina Pusic, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, August 20, 2018

Uneasy tensions rest at the crossroads between democratic theory and contemporary climate change mitigation policy. The connection between human activity and the pending climate consequences caused by lack of emissions mitigation is clear. For decades, we’ve known that climate change is both anthropogenic and will cause considerable harm to the global public good, including increased intensity of natural disasters, food insecurity, drought, and sea-level rise.

Arctic Tourism in the Age of Climate Change

Arctic
By Avital Li, Research Associate
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

As pristine landscapes become a relic of the past, the icy tundras and taigas of the Arctic polar regions are becoming prized destinations for high-end adventure travelers who want to see the region before it’s gone forever. The perverse consequence of this kind of “last-chance” tourism in the Arctic is that, done carelessly, it will almost certainly accelerate the destruction and damage of the precise attractions that it so fetishizes, people and landscapes included.

Sea-Level Rise and Climate Migration: The Story of Kiribati

Fanning Island, Kiribati, by RomonaMona (Pixabay)
By Samantha Goins, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, July 16, 2018

Most people probably haven’t heard of Anote Tong, the former president of Kiribati, but he is somewhat of a celebrity in the international climate sphere. His ideas were radical and often subject to criticism, even within his own nation. Yet, radical action may be the very thing that Kiribati, and so many other island nations, require.

Trust, But Verify: The Need for Demonstrable Disaster Resilience

2017 was one of the costliest hurricane seasons on record (NOAA).
By Jon Philipsborn, Associate Vice President, Climate Adaptation Practice Director, AECOM
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Early in my career, I was conducting bird research for a very inspiring, but demanding professor. With each bird identification that I brought to him, he would respond with a series of qualifying questions, challenging me to provide sufficient proof that my observations would meet his standards for making a positive identification of whatever species I claimed to have seen. Somewhat over-confident and always eager to report my sightings, his response usually left me unsatisfied, and often frustrated. “Trust but verify,” this professor would always say.

A Hard Look’s Gonna Come: The Energy Executive Order, NEPA, and the Social Cost of Carbon

The social cost of carbon quantifies the economic impact of greenhouse gas emiss
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

In March of last year, President Trump issued fossil-fuel friendly Executive Order No. 13783, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. Section 5 of this Order directed agencies to discontinue use of the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), a protocol developed under the Obama Administration to monetize the impacts of climate-related disasters and disruption.