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Columbia Law School

Environmental Law

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2020

Articles 1 - 18 of 18

Full-Text Articles in Law

Briefing Note: Aligning International Investment Agreements With The Sustainable Development Goals, Lise Johnson, Lisa E. Sachs, Nathan Lobel Nov 2020

Briefing Note: Aligning International Investment Agreements With The Sustainable Development Goals, Lise Johnson, Lisa E. Sachs, Nathan Lobel

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Policy makers and other stakeholders are currently asking fundamental questions about whether and to what extent international investment agreements (IIAs) are consistent with and are helping to advance sustainable development objectives at home and abroad.

A 2019 paper from CCSI examines the alignment of IIAs with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, arguing that while FDI will play an important role in advancing development outcomes, existing treaties must be reformed and future IIAs reimagined in order to achieve deep alignment with the sustainable development goals.

The paper proposes that IIAs should be designed and evaluated with respect to their ability to ...


The Comet Framework: Greenhouse Gas Data Transparency To Enable The Success Of Eu Climate Policy, Martin Dietrich Brauch, Solina Kennedy Oct 2020

The Comet Framework: Greenhouse Gas Data Transparency To Enable The Success Of Eu Climate Policy, Martin Dietrich Brauch, Solina Kennedy

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

To further and fully understand how to plan for the decarbonization of mining value chains, we need better data on carbon and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, neither consumers, corporates, or financial institutions know the embodied emissions in the products they produce or sell. While methods like life-cycle analysis and environmental product declarations exist, none use a verifiable, comparable, or widely adopted emissions reporting framework capable of sending supply chain signals.

To truly reform material supply chains, new solutions for markets, capital, and policy are required. COMET (the Coalition on Materials Emissions Transparency)—an alliance launched at Davos in ...


Free, Prior And Informed Consent: Addressing Political Realities To Improve Impact, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Leila Kazemi Oct 2020

Free, Prior And Informed Consent: Addressing Political Realities To Improve Impact, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Leila Kazemi

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Indigenous and Tribal peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) has transformative potential. Yet, there is a considerable gap between the theory and what happens in practice. Global actors supporting recognition of FPIC and effective prior consultation processes usually focus on normative standards and best practices. They concentrate much less on addressing the political challenges and opportunities that shape how these processes unfold.

With funding from the Ford Foundation, we looked at the politics of FPIC in Latin America, analyzing how the power and interests of the key players–across governments, companies and indigenous peoples–can determine the ...


Getting The Most Out Of Extractive Industries Transparency: How A More Explicit Treatment Of Political Considerations Could Strengthen The Impact Of Transparency Efforts, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment Sep 2020

Getting The Most Out Of Extractive Industries Transparency: How A More Explicit Treatment Of Political Considerations Could Strengthen The Impact Of Transparency Efforts, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Work on transparency in the extractive industries (EI) has achieved important successes over the last two decades. For example, significant commitments to disclosure have been secured, the volume of publicly available information about critical activities has increased considerably, and norms around certain information being in the public domain have been established. There is also a growing library of use cases for this information. Nonetheless, important work remains to be done to translate these efforts into impact.

Political context is crucial to determining the fate of transparency efforts. Therefore, grappling with political context more effectively will also be key to unlocking ...


Equipping The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation For The Low-Carbon Transition: How Are Other National Oil Companies Adapting?, Perrine Toledano, Martin Dietrich Brauch, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Francisco Javier Pardinas Favela Sep 2020

Equipping The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation For The Low-Carbon Transition: How Are Other National Oil Companies Adapting?, Perrine Toledano, Martin Dietrich Brauch, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Francisco Javier Pardinas Favela

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) persistent governance challenges have both hampered Nigeria’s oil sector development and deprived the country of public resources. The oil, climate, and COVID-19 crises and the ramp-up of the low-carbon transition exacerbate this reality, with the national oil company (NOC) delivering sub-optimal returns to its stakeholders.

Other NOCs have taken meaningful steps to become players in the low-carbon energy transition domestically or in­ternationally – for example, Sau­di Arabia’s Saudi Aramco, Norway’s Equinor, Brazil’s Petrobras, Malaysia’s Petronas, and Algeria’s Sonatrach. These NOCs can serve as sources of inspiration ...


Submission To Bonsucro Re Production Standard V5 (2019-21), Nami Patel, Sam Szoke-Burke Jul 2020

Submission To Bonsucro Re Production Standard V5 (2019-21), Nami Patel, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

In July 2020, CCSI made a formal submission to Bonsucro, an international multi-stakeholder initiative and certification scheme concerned with promoting sustainable sugar cane production. The submission formed part of consultations for Bonsucro’s draft Production Standard version 5. CCSI’s submission focused on challenges associated with implementing, and auditing for compliance with, three aspects of Bonsucro’s draft standard, namely:

  • Obtaining the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous and traditional communities when establishing or expanding sugar production operations
  • Implementing transparent and participatory processes to assess, monitor, and evaluate the environmental and social impacts of new and existing projects ...


Incorporating Free, Prior And Informed Consent (Fpic) Into Investment Approval Processes, Kelly Dudine, Sam Szoke-Burke Jul 2020

Incorporating Free, Prior And Informed Consent (Fpic) Into Investment Approval Processes, Kelly Dudine, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Investment approval processes are the gateway through which governments set the agenda for their country’s investment environment. Yet too often these processes fail to incorporate meaningful requirements regarding participation in decision-making by Indigenous and other affected communities, increasing the risk of under-performing and conflict-ridden investments.

Enabling meaningful participation by rights holders and obtaining and maintaining their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) throughout different investment approval processes can help governments to fulfill their legal obligations, mitigate financial and political risk, and, ultimately, attract more sustainable land-based investments.

Featuring concrete guidance and drawing on case studies from Kenya, Liberia, Mexico ...


Don’T Throw Caution To The Wind: In The Green Energy Transition, Not All Critical Minerals Will Be Goldmines, Perrine Toledano, Martin Dietrich Brauch, Solina Kennedy, Howard Mann Jul 2020

Don’T Throw Caution To The Wind: In The Green Energy Transition, Not All Critical Minerals Will Be Goldmines, Perrine Toledano, Martin Dietrich Brauch, Solina Kennedy, Howard Mann

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

The green energy transition will be exceedingly mineral intensive. Manufacturing solar panels, wind turbine and batteries to power cleaner energies is set to significantly increase the demand for co-called “critical” minerals. Such a forecast prompts high expectations in mineral-rich countries and suggests promising opportunities for developing countries.

However, the projects to increase the primary extraction of critical minerals rest on bullish forecasts and uncertain terrain due to a number of factors explored in the paper that threaten to leave these investments obsolete and economically stranded.

Governments, international actors, and mining advocates seeking to optimize the value of green energy mineral ...


Best Practices In Data Driven Development Planning In Mining Regions, Nicolas Maennling, Josefina Correa Jun 2020

Best Practices In Data Driven Development Planning In Mining Regions, Nicolas Maennling, Josefina Correa

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Strategic development planning has long been used by private and public sectors to guide actions that will lead to a determined goal in the medium- to long-term. The SDG framework has helped to create a common language of what development means, what the global objectives are by 2030, and how progress can be measured. With the world entering an era in which data is generated and used at an unprecedented scale, data and ICT systems should be used to better inform policy decision making and help evaluate progress to hold stakeholders accountable to their promises and performance. This report outlines ...


Mechanisms For Consultation And Free, Prior And Informed Consent In The Negotiation Of Investment Contracts, Sam Szoke-Burke, Kaitlin Y. Cordes Jun 2020

Mechanisms For Consultation And Free, Prior And Informed Consent In The Negotiation Of Investment Contracts, Sam Szoke-Burke, Kaitlin Y. Cordes

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Investor-state contracts are regularly used in low-and middle-income countries to grant concessions for land-based and natural resource investments, such as agricultural, extractive industry, forestry, or renewable energy projects. These contracts are rarely negotiated in the presence of, or with meaningful input from, the people who risk being adversely affected by the project. This practice will usually risk violating requirements for meaningful consultation, and, where applicable, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and is particularly concerning when the investor-state contract gives the investor company rights to lands or resources over which local communities have legitimate claims.

This article explores how consultation ...


Comment On Us Trade And Investment Agreements Submitted To Ustr, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment Apr 2020

Comment On Us Trade And Investment Agreements Submitted To Ustr, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Comments to USTR Re: U.S.-Kenya Trade Agreement (April 28, 2020): CCSI, in response to the United States Trade Representative’s request for public comment to inform its approach to a U.S.-Kenya Trade Agreement, submitted Comments elaborating on our main points that (1) investor-state dispute settlement should not be included in any U.S.-Kenya agreement and (2) principles that should guide an investment chapter or investment provisions in any such agreement should (a) strategically support cross-border investment that produces positive development outcomes for the U.S. and Kenya, (b) facilitate and support good governance of investment ...


A Review Of Sierra Leone’S Mines And Minerals Act, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Perrine Toledano, Sophie Thomashausen Mar 2020

A Review Of Sierra Leone’S Mines And Minerals Act, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Perrine Toledano, Sophie Thomashausen

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

With the support of Oxfam, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment reviewed select provisions in the Mines and Minerals Act 2009 and corresponding policy statements from the Minerals Policy 2018 to provide recommendations for how to best align the anticipated new mining law with international best practice. The 2009 law was reviewed with a focus on the following topics:

  • Fiscal regime;
  • Climate change;
  • Access to and use of land;
  • Community consultations and participation;
  • Human rights; and
  • Community development agreements.

The policy brief aims to support the Government of Sierra Leone in the ongoing law reform process.


Electric Utility Alignment With The Sdgs & The Paris Climate Agreement, Perrine Toledano, Aniket Shah, Nicolas Maennling, Ryan J. Lasnick Feb 2020

Electric Utility Alignment With The Sdgs & The Paris Climate Agreement, Perrine Toledano, Aniket Shah, Nicolas Maennling, Ryan J. Lasnick

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda poses a unique and critical challenge to the energy sector: how to scale access to clean energy to power sustainable, economic development for a growing population, while simultaneously decarbonizing global energy supply. Expanding access to clean energy will play a crucial role in achieving nearly every one of the Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to agricultural production, health outcomes, educational performance, water systems, access to infrastructure, and reducing inequalities. However, practices by some actors in the energy sector, and continued over-reliance on greenhouse gas-intensive fossil fuels also undermine global efforts to mitigate climate change ...


Preparing Legal Frameworks For Environmental Disasters: Practical Considerations For Host States, Brooke Guven, Perrine Toledano, Lise Johnson Feb 2020

Preparing Legal Frameworks For Environmental Disasters: Practical Considerations For Host States, Brooke Guven, Perrine Toledano, Lise Johnson

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Projects in the extractives sector carry risks of lasting, and sometimes irreversible, damage to the environment. Nonetheless, these projects are important for accelerating the economic development of host countries. Governments seeking to mitigate the adverse effects of foreign investment often face pushback from investors that are unwilling to change their practices in order to avert environmental disaster. This report sets forth certain steps that host-governments can take during the pre-investment, operation, and enforcement phases of extractives projects to provide financial and other protection in the context of environmental disasters associated with private sector investments.

Upon comparative review of five Case ...


Executive Summary On Ensuring Economic Viability And Sustainability Of Coffee Production, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, James Rising, Perrine Toledano, Nicolas Maennling Jan 2020

Executive Summary On Ensuring Economic Viability And Sustainability Of Coffee Production, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, James Rising, Perrine Toledano, Nicolas Maennling

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Coffee, the world’s favorite beverage, provides livelihoods for at least 60 million people across dozens of countries. Yet this beloved drink is experiencing a sustainability crisis. A sustained decline in world coffee prices has squeezed coffee producers, and thrown a tremendous number of producers below the global extreme poverty line of US$1.90 per day. This briefing note presents our research into sustainability within the coffee sector, including the results of our analytical and empirical modeling, and provides several recommendations.


Environmental Injustice: How Treaties Undermine Human Rights Related To The Environment, Lisa E. Sachs, Lise Johnson, Ella Merrill Jan 2020

Environmental Injustice: How Treaties Undermine Human Rights Related To The Environment, Lisa E. Sachs, Lise Johnson, Ella Merrill

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Growing cries for action to effectively address the climate and other environmental crises hold important implications for the governance of cross-border investments. Policymakers and environmental advocates have often overlooked how provisions granted by states in international investment agreements (IIAs) have been used by investors to challenge government measures taken in the public interest to protect the environment and advance environmental justice.

This 2019 paper, published in the Sciences Po Legal Review issue devoted to the climate crisis, explains how the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, made available to investors in thousands of bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements, may ...


For Coöperation And The Abolition Of Capital, Or, How To Get Beyond Our Extractive Punitive Society And Achieve A Just Society, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2020

For Coöperation And The Abolition Of Capital, Or, How To Get Beyond Our Extractive Punitive Society And Achieve A Just Society, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

In hindsight, the term "capitalism" was always a misnomer, coined paradoxically by its critics in the nineteenth century. The term misleadingly suggests that the existence of capital produces a unique economic system or that capital itself is governed by economic laws. But that's an illusion. In truth, we do not live today in a system in which capital dictates our economic circumstances. Instead, we live under the tyranny of what I would call "tournament dirigisme": a type of state-directed gladiator sport where our political leaders bestow spoils on the wealthy, privileged elite.

We need to displace this tournament dirigisme ...


Emergency Exemptions From Environmental Laws, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2020

Emergency Exemptions From Environmental Laws, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

The national response to the coronavirus crisis may face several impediments but federal and state environmental laws should not be among them. Most of these laws have emergency exemptions that allow the usual (and sometimes lengthy) procedures to be bypassed, and some substantive requirements to be waived, in instances of true urgency. However, there is concern that some agencies and corporations will use this as an excuse to bypass environmental laws that aren’t actually getting in the way of responses to the crisis.