Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 38

GLOBAL & DOMESTIC OUTLOOK

CLIMATE ACTIONS
COMING IN 2O2O
T
By Richard Blaustein

his year the world will witness
significant progress on high-level
environmental initiatives, some of
which have been years in the
making. Of course, the Paris Agreement will
attract much attention as delegates work
to finish its rulebook and address matters
that eluded negotiators at the United
Nations Climate Change Conference of the
Parties (COP25) in Madrid last December.
This month the UN Intergovernmental
Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas
Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) should
produce a final treaty conserving sea life. Also,
2020 will see the possible adoption of recently
passed trade controls to ensure that plastic waste
that is difficult to recycle can be exported only
with the permission of the importing country. In
addition, parties to the Montreal Protocol on
Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer will
consider scaling down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), while biodiversity takes the spotlight in China.

THE PARIS AGREEMENT
Noticeable disappointment was expressed after
the Madrid conference, with significant matters
left for revisiting at COP26 in December 2020 in
Glasgow, United Kingdom. This year marks the
end of the first five-year cycle in which countries will assess their progress and future

38 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

MARCH/APRIL 2020

"ambition," or commitment to updated climate
action plans.

Implementing the "ambition" scope of the Paris
Agreement was a point of debate and criticism.
Article 4(3) states: "Each Party's successive
nationally determined contribution [NDCs] will
represent a progression beyond the Party's then
current nationally determined contribution and
reflect its highest possible ambition." For the
majority of NDCs, the agreement does not
explicitly require new pledges. Parties may
simply "[re]communicate" what they offered in
2015 or 2016.
Jennifer Huang, senior international fellow at
the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions in
Washington, D.C., says that we "won't see what
the outcome on 'ambition' will be until 2020
. . . This could be seen as a stepping stone to
[a really good] outcome."

Also pushed to the end of 2020 is debate over
Article 6 addressing the cooperation among
countries regarding NDC implementation,
possibly involving the transfer of emissions
reductions in a carbon market to help other
nations achieve their goals. Other unresolved
issues included accounting of emissions trading,
transparency stipulations, and the carryover of
Kyoto-era carbon offset units.
Additionally, increasing discourse on pathways
to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the
uncertain future regarding U.S. leadership on
climate will also make 2020 a portentous year
for the Paris Agreement. "It is going to possibly
show whether everyone actually believes in
the agreement they decided on in 2015,"
Huang says.

HIGH SEAS TREATY

From March 23 to April 3 the UN Intergovern-mental Conference will convene its last session
to finalize a UN General Assembly-mandated
treaty.
Under the UN Convention on the Law of the
Sea (UNCLOS), the prospective supplemental
treaty concerns conservation and sustainable
use of marine biology in areas beyond national
jurisdiction (the high seas). In addition to
setting norms for environmental impact
assessments, promoting marine protected
areas, and to some degree informing the work
of other international organizations, especially
regional fisheries management organizations,
the treaty will address genetic resources, of
which developed and developing countries
have different visions.
Attorney Kristina Gjerde, senior high seas
advisor to the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature, says negotiators should
produce a treaty that "sets forth the environmental principles, the governance principles for
transparency, accountability, and review, and
then a platform for continued collaboration to
share scientific information" pertaining to the
high seas biodiversity.
Gjerde also highlights that, coinciding with
the spring conference in 2020, the International
Seabed Authority will attempt to finalize seabed
mining regulations. "But we don't have the
science yet" demonstrating that irreversible
environmental harm will not happen,
Gjerde says.
The United States has not
acceded to UNCLOS but has

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Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Women of Impact feature
The Race to End Roe feature
Solar Power Access Feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
Global & Domestic Outlook
Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Women of Impact feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - The Race to End Roe feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Solar Power Access Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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