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A Climate Change with Matt Matern
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128: Environment Lawyer Durwood Zaelke, Grizzled Veteran of the Climate Wars

Guest Name(s): Durwood Zaelke

Rock star environmental attorney, Durwood Zaelke, discusses how to save our planet. Durwood is a self described “grizzled veteran” who has helped protect the environment from the Love Canal litigation 50 years ago to his work in strengthening the Montreal Protocol. Durwood describes how that treaty can be broadened and strengthened to limit methane emissions which are 80 times more harmful than CO2. Durwood is going to COP 28 to confront the Sultans of oil to get them to reduce methane emissions!

Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development >>

The Center for International Environmental Law >>

Episode Categories:
Listen in as environmental attorney, Durwood Zaelke, sounds the alarm about methane and other common sense concerns in the fight against "global boiling."
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IGSD works to promote just and sustainable societies and to protect the environment by advancing the understanding, development, and implementation of effective, and accountable systems of governance for sustainable development…
Since 1989, CIEL has used the power of law to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society. With offices in Washington, DC, and Geneva, Switzerland, CIEL’s team of attorneys, policy experts, and support staff works to provide legal counsel and advocacy, policy research, and capacity building across our three program areas: Climate & Energy, Environmental Health, and People, Land, & Resources…
The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) makes law work for people, places, and the planet. ELI’s Vision is “a healthy environment, prosperous economies, and vibrant communities founded on the rule of law.” ELI’s Mission is to foster innovative, just, and practical law and policy solutions to enable leaders across borders and sectors to make environmental, economic, and social progress…
128: Environment Lawyer Durwood Zaelke, Grizzled Veteran of the Climate Wars

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is your host, Matt Matern, and I’ve got Professor Durwood Zaelke on the program. Durwood is the founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, which is based out of Washington DC. He has offices in Paris, as well. He’s been focusing on fast mitigation strategies to protect the climate.

Durwood began his legal career after graduating from Duke as the editor in chief of the Environmental Law Reporter. He then worked at the Department of Justice and the Environment and Natural Resources Division, which, where he led an investigation into hazardous waste dumping in the infamous Love Canal case. So big when there.

He left the Department of Justice to be the director and senior attorney for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, which is now known as Earth Justice. Worked up a ton of cases to stop polluters in Alaska, and probably deserves a Congressional Medal for the work that he did in that case alone.

Then, Durward went on to start CIEL, which is the Center for International Environmental Law, in part because there was no way to stop these whalers from decimating our whale population. He’s co authored a book cut super pollutants now, which I think is an incredibly important book.

And then, if that weren’t enough, they’re worried then got appointed to lead the international network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement, which there were 4,000 practitioners and 150 countries trying to chart new compliance regs for the environment across the planet.

Then in 2003, Durwood started the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. And one of its goals is use the Montreal Protocol to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And Durwood wrote a recent article in The Guardian about this. So without further ado, Durwood, welcome to the program.

When you read through my resume, you make me sound old, Matt. Yeah. And it always makes me a little nervous. I’ve had a long career. Yes. Very happy to be on your show. So tell me what what you need to know. And I will try to answer every question you can think of, well, why don’t we start off with, with what your path was? And in terms of what, what were the things that brought you to the environmental movement?

Well, I was a student at Berkeley in the late 60s. And Ronald Reagan was governor. And he fired Eldridge Cleaver, who was going to be teaching there. And school went on strike. And I was interested in political change. But not in throwing rocks or lighting the Bank of America on fire, I met a couple of law students who lived in my my dorm, a woman from Hawaii, and I guide from Indiana, and they seem so sensible in their approach to policy and to change.

So I thought, I’m gonna go to law school. And Duke was the smallest law school in the country, 110 students in each entering class, and they were kind enough to let me in and even kinder to let me out. And while I was there, I started learning about environment. And I was offered a job in Washington, DC during my summer, second summer, to work at the Environmental Law Institute as a summer scholar, with Fred Anderson and Grant Thompson, two incredibly talented lawyers.

And I loved it. It was so exciting to see how to combine science, economics, and law, social policy, psychology, sociology, to to build a better world, or these days with mindset to keep the world that we had, and, and then to try to improve it. And it was just, it was a very exciting time and it has been for my entire career, which now focuses largely on the climate problem. But you know, as you mentioned, I was in a Alaska for several years, litigating mining cases, forestry cases, and others to protect that great State of Alaska. And, and I’ve done hazardous waste work. And I led the investigation for the Department of Justice on the Three Mile Island nuclear accident as well.

So I’ve had lots of interesting things to do. And then when I started the Center for International Environmental Law or CL, in London and Paris, you know, I, I learned the power of international law as a complement to the strong domestic law.

And we are in the US, as you know, a rule of law country, and whatever your political persuasion is, you know, the courts are generally powerful and pretty fair, you know, and so that’s, that’s a huge piece of our democracy here. International law is not as developed, but it still can do very important work as, as the Montreal Protocol has done. And I’m happy to talk about that, as well.

Right, you had this recent article in The Guardian about that, and how the success of the Montreal Protocol in kind of reducing hydro fluorocarbons from being emitted into the atmosphere to protect the ozone layer, and you talk about how that was such a great success?

And how do we replicate that in dealing with other greenhouse gases, because as you said, In the article, the Paris Accords are essentially too vague and unenforceable. It’s a nice, it’s like the Declaration of Independence. It’s Stein say it’s all out of knights principles, but it’s not an enforceable document. So where do we go with this?

Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I mean, the the UN climate treaty, in this latest iteration, known as the Paris Agreement, is, is useful in signaling, especially to the private sector, but also to governments that we need to address the coming climate emergency. So it has some value. But it’s not like a constitution. It’s not like a federal regulation that you can go to court to enforce. It is. It’s a little more hand waving.

It’s like, we’re all going to get together, we’re all going to pledge our own nationally determined contributions. And we’ll see how it adds up. And in fact, it hasn’t added up very well. But let me contrast with the Montreal Protocol. Because that treaty, which we started 35 years ago, to protect the stratospheric ozone layer is, is a brilliant agreement, the most successful the most powerful, the most far reaching for both protecting stratospheric ozone and climate change.

So back in 1974, to scientist at the University of California Irvine, Sherry Rowland, who was the chair of the chemistry department and his postdoc from Mexico, Mario Molina discovered that fluorocarbons known as CFCs, at the time claro fluorocarbons, that we used in our spray cans, were used as refrigerants in our icebox or refrigerator, our air conditioner, and they discovered that those chemicals that seemed benign, were migrating to the upper atmosphere, where they were interacting with ice crystals, and sunlight to destroy stratospheric ozone.

This is the thin layer around the earth that protects us from ultraviolet radiation, especially in the B spectrum. That when it comes into a thinned ozone hole, causes skin cancer causes eye cataracts, suppresses our immune system suppresses photosynthesis in our crops, our forest, and other parts of the National Environment, natural environment. So, so this, this was a really tough problem. And these scientist who later won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, brought it to the attention of the world. They said, this is a problem, pay attention and ultimately make a treaty that will stop us from destroying stratospheric ozone.

And then Ronald Reagan was President and he had skin cancer on his nose. And he was also friends with Maggie Thatcher, the Prime Minister of the UK, who was a chemist. And they were both conservative.

But they were both smart about stopping the destruction of the ozone layer. So they said, Yes, let’s get together. And we will lead an effort to develop a treaty, which became known as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Stratospheric Ozone.

Again, 35 years now, we’ve been doing this, and this treaty not only solve the first great threat to the global atmosphere from the loss of ozone, but it also has done more to protect the climate than anything else, because the same chemicals are really powerful climate pollutants. We know that because 1975 Professor Ramanathan, now emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and San Diego, said, Hey, these are not just destroying ozone, they’re warming the climate.

So we’ve managed because of this monitoring protocol, to solve an amount of the climate problem that otherwise would equal what carbon dioxide is causing today, that’s the biggest piece about 55% of our warming.

Well, that’s pretty amazing that we were we did such a great job on that. And so you’ll, you’ll tell us more about this and also talk about how we can pivot and use the same principles and same structure to go forward and use the Montreal Protocol and was like it to slow down global warming or put it back into check. So you’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host and I’ll be back with Durward Zaki in just a minute.

You’re listening to A Climate Change this is Matt Matern, your host and I’ve got Professor Durward Saki on the program. Professor right. Before we cut off for the break, we were talking about the Montreal Protocol. And, and the success of it, how can we build on that going forward to take that legal architecture and and use it in the fight against climate change?

Well, that’s, that’s an incredibly important question. And the first part of the answer is to study the Montreal Protocol and learn why it works. So well. We think of it as a start and strengthen treaty. It started modestly, it gained confidence by solving the first part of the problem. And then the parties decided they could do more, they strengthened it over and over and over.

So it was it was a treaty that allowed parties to digest their their challenge, and to get confident to do more and more. So that’s one critical piece. And the treaty also implements the international principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities.

Which is a very important principle for balancing the north south divide where the north or the more industrialized countries, the richer countries have the responsibility under the treaty, to go first with the solutions to develop them, and then to drive down the price by moving to scale.

And then after a grace period, typically 10 years, the developing countries have to do the same thing. So they get a break. They get to go a little longer using these chemicals, tell the prices go down, and they can afford them that another part of the treaty is that the countries put in a dedicated funding mechanism. The multilateral fund put in so far over 35 years, about $4 billion, $500 million spread out over three years and they replenish every three years.

That seems that seems like the biggest bargain ever for climate change in history of the world there – $4 billion, to save the ozone layer.

Well, you’re absolutely right. It’s not only to save the stratospheric ozone, otherwise we’d be living indoors, we could even go outside, but to do more for climate than anything else. In other words, it has solved two problems and hasn’t solved climate, but it’s delayed the onset of the worst by taking out these chemicals.

So it’s an if you look at the cost, you know, the world calculates climate reductions in terms of how much does it cost for a billion tonnes avoided emissions. And usually the price is, you know, 3040 50 $100 a tonne, the Montreal Protocol got a billion tons for less than 10 cents at time.

So their, their mitigation has been so inexpensive. And that’s if you assign the entire cost to the climate side, when in fact, the cost originally is assigned to the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer, which means we got a free ride on the climate side.

So tell us, tell us, how do we then strengthen the Montreal Protocol yet further? And what would be the steps that you would recommend at this point in time?

Well, the first thing I would do is to make sure that the countries from the richer northern group continue to replenish the fun, very important. This year in October, the parties will be meeting to decide that number. And it should be, you know, a very robust replenishment.

It looks good at this point. But they should make sure they bring that home in the October meeting of the parties, then they should provide incentives for countries to phase out the HFC or hydro-fluorocarbons, the latest of the fluorinated gases, even faster than under the current phased out schedule. So some countries are ready to go faster.

And they should be given a nudge to do that. Another thing that that we should do in the Montreux protocol is to make sure we’re facilitating the improvement in energy efficiency of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other cooling equipment. In a warming world, we have to provide more air conditioning.

But because most air conditioning is still powered by fossil fuels, we’re causing more climate pollution at the same time. So it’s a it’s a very unfortunate feedback loop. And of course, when you use an air conditioner, you take heat from your office, and you put it outside for somebody else to experience. And so it’s contributing to the urban heat island as well.

So anyway, that just to wrap that up, study, and then let’s do more, we should put end to O into the Montreal Protocol. This is the last class pollutant that is destroying stratospheric ozone and causing warming that is not yet regulated out of the Montreux protocol. So that should go in as well.

Then what’s your hope as to the end to being added? What do you think? What are the factors in play? And maybe what can the listeners do to engage on that front? Whether the administration, the Biden administration know what they should be doing on this? So how do we go after n two?

Oh, well, the first thing you need to know is that one major part of N two emissions come from the production of industrial acids. And that is relatively simple to fix, inexpensive, most of the plants, certainly in the US do a very good job with this, but not all plants in the world.

So we could say and we should say through the Montreal Protocol, it is now mandatory, that you reduce your emissions of end to Oh, when you produce these industrial acids, down to the lowest level that technology will take us and that that is already been done in many parts of the world, but it should be done in all parts of the world.

Then there’s the part of NGO that comes from the agricultural sector, that farm workers face an increasingly difficult time. Under current climate impacts to grow, they’re off the world. So the way to get them to reduce and to from their fertilizer use is to provide the right incentives. There are also ways to manage many guns better. There’s a great company in Milan, Italy called SOP that sells a key put into a menorah, Laguna for five days, it takes away the end to o emissions.

Okay, so in terms of that, solving the end to o problem. What about the global methane problem? And that is primarily, I believe, produced by oil and gas production? How can we solve for that, in particular, related to the Montreal Protocol and expansion of that, and will be addressed at COP28 and Dubai, which is kind of the home to much of the world’s oil and gas industry. The methane emissions come from oil and gas production?

Absolutely. It’s a major part. They also come from landfills. So when you take any organic material, food, for example, and put it into a landfill and cover it with dirt, take away oxygen, you turn it into methane. And it also comes from agriculture. So rice paddies and ruminants, soy cows and sheep produce methane as well.

There are three sectors, the oil and gas sector is ready to go right now. And you point out that the next big climate meeting is going to be in the United Arab Emirates, chaired by Dr. Sultan Al Jabar, who is also the head of the state oil company, known as ad noc. And that means he has a deep understanding of his industry. And he knows how easy it would be to cut methane from oil and gas.

And he’s said in his public statements, he wants to reduce methane from the oil and gas sector to near zero, that the question is whether we can hold him to that account. And I will be talking with her would when we get back from the break, you’re listening to A Climate Change and this is Matt matter, and I’ve got your words okie on the program, and we’re talking about COP28 and how it could be an effective or breakthrough conference, versus what many are concerned about it being a step in the wrong direction.

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, and I’ve got Durwood Zaelke on the program. He is, as I said, a founder of the Institute for Governance of Sustainable Development, and Law School professor litigator extraordinaire and durwood, as we were talking before the break about COP28. And whether it’s going to be a bust or breakthrough, what do you think?

Well, yeah, you hit the nail on the head when you were talking about methane, a comment and a pledge, not the same as a binding agreement. So number one, can solve them l Java, round up the national oil companies and get them to make a firm commitment, mandatory commitment that is verifiable, to reduce their methane emissions, it actually will make money for these companies because methane is natural gas. And there’s a high demand still for natural gas.

So plug the leaks, take a wrench and tighten up your fittings, and otherwise stop those emissions. So can out job or manage that that’s that’s number one. Number two, will countries put in money for loss and damage?

So right now you’re seeing tremendous damage around the world, the Canadian wildfires, the fires in Greece, the floods and in Pakistan and elsewhere, and the torrential rains that are sweeping away cities now. And that damage is being caused by the oil companies, the gas companies, the coal companies that have Put the pollutants into the atmosphere the last 150 years.

So what is their responsibility? The parties to the UN treaty have set up last year a loss and damage fund, but it doesn’t have any money in it yet. So will there be money forthcoming? That’s, that’s number two,

I kind of look at number one is kind of being the more critical or pressing problem, because until we plug the leaks on the methane, which is the even more powerful, you know, damaging chemical to to the ozone, I mean, to the, you know, to the atmosphere, that we, you know, we’re gonna have unlimited damage going forward.

Yes, I agree with you, Matt. You can’t adapt to what’s coming. If we don’t turn down the heat. The Secretary General of the UN has said, you know, we’re pushing the world right now from global warming to global boiling. Well, methane, is the blowtorch that’s doing that methane is pushing the planet from global warming to global boiling.

Is there? I mean, let me just interrupt you there for one second and say, Is there a set of is there kind of a protocol or potential potential language that’s on the on the table right now, that could be used at COP28, that that essentially, puts in writing what you said, the mandatory commitment from the oil companies and I guess national governments to stop methane emissions.

They, there is language in front of the UAE Team, for the beginning of what should become a Montreal Protocol inspired agreement, the borrow some of the architecture from that brilliant treaty, to address methane. And you would start with the oil and gas sector, and coal, don’t forget coal. Methane is what kills the canary in the coal mines.

So coal mines leak methane, and you want to control that as well. So that would be perhaps the most important thing the world could do right now, to turn off the methane blowtorch, then you’d have a second protocol for the landfill methane. And that would mean helping a lot of countries manage their waste better.

And for example, you know, there, there’s a program in India that was put together by France and India, the International Solar Alliance, and they have a program to reduce food loss and waste by building solar powered cold storage facilities for farmers to get their produce to market when the prices are high, and prevent it from spoiling.

Because when it spoils, it becomes methane. And so turn that the all the food into calories that people need and not into methane, which we don’t need. And then the third one later would be agriculture. And again, that would be a challenge for subsidies.

Not that necessarily regulation will tell us the UN Secretary General Good here it said, we’ve kind of out of the gates of how, how much trouble are we really in? And how much time do we have before the yogurt really hits the fan?

Well, good terrorists has a really good speech writer. And in the US, the climate week, this that’s going on right now in New York that I just returned from this afternoon. You know, he said, we’ve opened the gates of hell. And that’s a really good image because we are on the verge of catastrophe. And that’s because the warming we put in so far, and you can see the impact that’s causing is about to push us from linear impacts where a little more warming makes impacts a little worse, to nonlinear abrupt impacts.

That is like stepping off a cliff. That last step is a killer, you know, you plunge down into the canyon. And we’re about to do that because the warming we put into the climate system is now triggered. Rain, its own self amplifying warming, the Earth is beginning to warm itself. That happens, it pushes us faster to a series of tipping points, these nonlinear, abrupt and irreversible tipping points that will lead us if we don’t change course, to climate chaos. And it’s going to be very hard to govern the world.

When you’re seeing famine throughout Africa, throughout South Asia, when you see wildfires that consume Canada and, and parts of Greece and Spain and so much of the world, the even fires are burning in the Siberian architect. They call them zombie fires, because even in the winter, they’re covered with snow, but they smolder, they popped back up in the spring.

So this is this is a very bad future, that we’re leaving our children or grandchildren, and even for us right now. So we That’s why speed matters so much. We have to find solutions that turn the heat down quickly. And that’s the non co2, super climate pollutes cut those and warming goes down really quickly.

Well, it’s so just to kind of step in a different direction. What, who are the people that you would put on your say Mount Rushmore of climate heroes?

Boy, that’s a that’s a very interesting question. I mean, you’d put, you know, Jim Hanson, you know, the great us climate scientists still cranking out Brilliant stuff. I put Mario Molina, Sherry Rowland, and Paul Crewdson, the three scientists who worked on ozone and shared the Nobel Prize for that. Mount Rushmore, I think, is only four but there might be more here.

You know, communicators are I mean, like you, you know, we’ve got some great communicators like Bill McKibben, you know, and Elizabeth Coe Bear with The New Yorker, and Amy Westerfeld, with her podcast called drilled, just won an award this this week, who’s fantastic. So, you know, it’s really important what you’re doing, you know, communicating, how do we train people teach people open up minds? I tried to do it, as a lawyer who knows a lot about the science, but, but I’m not succeeding fast enough. So we need to get some communicators on that. Mount Rushmore as well.

Well tell us so what’s your advice to young activists as well as the “grizzled veterans?” What, what they could be doing to kind of accelerate movement in the right direction?

Well, the grizzled veteran should be helping the young people, they should not leave the field here, the battlefields I mean, we need to stay in, because we actually know a lot. Now a lot of what we know is from mistakes. But that can be useful in helping people or the young people learn what not to do as well as what to do. But it’s really the power of the young people that I have the most optimism for saving the planet. That’s the political power. Young people are, are concerned.

And they’re also suffering from climate anxiety. But the best way to overcome climate anxiety is through action. Band together with young allies. Take to the streets. Put your signs out there. You know. March where it’s appropriate to march. And make sure that you’re learning as you do this, so that you can be well informed. And that’s where the connection with the grizzled veterans, they can help you speed up your learning. Target your activism even better.

And then then the other the other piece that I like, Matt is the the genius of the entrepreneurs. There are new people coming in, who used to be the ones in Silicon Valley who’d go to work for, you know, the movie industry to do the super graphics for the, the blockbuster movies.

Now they’re going into climate so so if we redirect the genius of, of our entrepreneurial country, and this is, you know, this is gonna be led by the US, then, you know, then we can still do it, but we can still avoid the worst.

Well you’re listening to A Climate Change, this is Matt matter I’ve got, you know, our great guest or word Sophie on the program and we’ll be right back to talk to Durwood, and talk about what the future holds for us.

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host, and I’ve got their Durwood Zaelke on the program here today. And Durwood, I wanted to talk to you about something near and dear to both of our hearts, lawyers, and we’re both lawyers. And so what lawyers can be doing to help move the cars forward?

I feel like the the millions of lawyers that we have in the US, it’s a very small percentage that are really engaged in helping the climate crisis. And I think in part it’s not because nobody cares about it. I feel like it’s it’s a challenging field to get into. And certainly the polluters have done their best to make it even more challenging by fighting everything, tooth and nail. I know that there’s been, there’s been some great work by you and many others. But what are your thoughts about that moving forward?

Well, I think lawyers are incredibly important for this. And they’re not always the most popular people at a party. But they’re, they’re the folks that do know how to wield the power of law. And we need more, more law students to learn climate, we need more lawyers, to learn climate, we need them to keep learning because this is a field, that’s incredibly dynamic. You need to know the science, you need to know the technology, you need to know the policy.

And then you need to have clients if you’re in private practice, to help guide them to a better future. So I think it’s it’s a very exciting time to be a climate lawyer. And if I were a lawyer doing anything else, I would be insanely jealous of the climate lawyers.

And I would do everything I could to, to get a job with the California Attorney General, who just brought this great climate case against the big oil companies, or with the California Air Resources Board, another brilliant regulatory body, or one of the city attorneys working on this, or I would go to work for a nonprofit, and and help them do a better job.

And this is another interesting point where, you know, the the lawyers who come from private practice, sometimes bring even greater discipline, and an insight into how to solve the climate problem. And so the combination of the people who, who come up through the public interest side, and the private practice side, and here, now, when you shift from private practice to the nonprofit, you give up some money, you’re not going to make the same same salary. And as far as I know, it’s not possible.

I’ve tried to keep up with the starting salaries on on Wall Street to bless the bonuses that I don’t know what it is this year. But I remember when the numbers come out, when I’ve been teaching, I always look around at the students and think All right, you guys are gonna graduate next month, and some of you are gonna make more money than I do.

Right, right. Yeah, some crazy amounts of money they throw at some of these young grads. I was looking at I actually interviewed Melissa Sims who has brought a case against the oil companies for the hurricane Maria. And I don’t know if you had followed that case. Yes. And did. Yeah. And what are your thoughts about that case? And what are her chances there?

Well, Missy Sims is exactly the kind of lawyer you want. I mean, this is a creative woman who is tough as nails and really cool, too. And she’s brought an incredible case, behalf of Puerto Rico for the hurricane damage. And it’s and you should read it. It’s a it’s a 200 Plus page complaint that tells a Hollywood story. about deception, deceit, causation, damage.

And she’s worked in Rico, racketeering and corrupt influence Act, the the probably the strongest statute that we have in the United States to go after the bad guys. So it’s, it’s pretty, pretty cool to see her doing this. Of course, she’s backed up by a very sophisticated plaintiff’s law firm. And what are the odds? Well, I mean, these are, these are tough cases.

Because as you point out, the fossil fuel industry has a team of very well paid lawyers who will fight tooth and nail on behalf of their client to slow down and defeat these cases. But there will be breakthroughs, the Montana case that was just won by youth there, that’s under the Montana State Constitution that has the right to a clean and healthy environment. That was a victory. There was a great case in Hawaii by the Hawaiian Supreme Court, and especially the concurring opinion by Justice Mike Wilson, who talks about feedbacks and tipping points.

So, you know, it’s, it’s happening, and that was a regulatory setting. So it’s easier than a damage setting, but the law is being developed now. And, you know, Matt, you can trace the history of the Industrial Revolution through tort law. You know, it’s like, we have new causes of harm, and the legal system has to figure out who’s responsible, who needs to pay, who has the best resources to fix the problem? You know, the question is, can we do it fast enough? Can we get the law to evolve as fast as we need it? That’s really the challenge?

Well, I guess it’s a it’s a fascinating question. Essentially, in the law, we have not valued pollution for for, really, since its inception, and, and we took clean air and clean water is kind of givens. And that people could pollute really as much as they wanted.

Then, of course, in the 70s, that started to change, and we started to get some regulation of pollution. But essentially, the emission of greenhouse gases still isn’t being regulated in the respect that there’s no real cost to lots of places to emit these pollutants. Don’t we need kind of a tax on them in order to incentivize better behavior?

Yeah, I think you, you understand this. And, you know, when you have no cost to your pollution, you say what the hell, I can put my pollution into the river, I can put it into the atmosphere, I put it into the ocean, and leave it on the land, I don’t have to pay. So I’m not going to pay attention, I’m not going to reduce it. But as soon as you make people start to pay, that provides a really strong signal that they should stop doing it.

Now you can internalize the cost through a regulation that says don’t do it. And then that imposes a cost. You can say, Don’t do it, below or above this particular standard, or as you say, you can put a tax on or a fee.

And that’s what the Biden administration has done in the Inflation Reduction Act for methane that says, here’s a standard. And if you violate it, then you pay this fee. And it goes up every couple of years. So it’s a very clever combination of regulation and a fee, that will give the signal and incentive to stop emitting methane.

So where, where are you headed in your next, you know, forays, what are the things that you’re focusing on in the weeks and months ahead as kind of your front burner issues?

Well, I’m I’m headed to Oxford University to put on a seminar to help judges understand climate emissions. That’s a head there the end of next week. And I’m going to Paris doing some work with President Macron on his One Planet Summit Lab.

And then I’ll head to Nairobi for the Montreal Protocol, annual meeting, so be there for that week. And then I’ll go back to Paris and then then I’ll come home for Thanksgiving. So and then I’ll go to COP28 in UAE as the first two weeks of do December so I get a break at least part of November.

Well, that’s, that sounds quite a bit like a quite a busy schedule there. And, you know, I appreciate all the great work that you’ve been doing really for decades and it’s a phenomenal record of engagement and success on so many different levels.

And it’s certainly inspiring to me as a lawyer to get out there and do more and to hopefully inspire some others to do more because obviously we need to so I would encourage the audience to go out there and and volunteer make a difference. Get engaged on these issues, don’t be overwhelmed, find some kind of nonprofit some some place that you can make a difference and the planet.

Obviously consuming less products would be a good thing that all of us can do use less fossil fuel fuels. Something we can always reduce our intake every single week. So encourage people to do that.

Follow us on social media, we’ve got all the different channels. Check us out at aclimatechange.com as well as on Apple Music, Spotify, and iHeart Radio. Follow Durwood at his Institute, he’s at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. What is your your web address there?

igsd.org

Okay, well check Durwood out there and on their social channels, follow him. And thank you everybody for tuning in. Tune in next week.

(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)

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