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American Bar Association
American Bar Association Energy and Resources Committees

Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems Committee

2010-2011 Committee Co-Chairs:

Frank B. Friedman, Frank B. Friedman & Associates, LLC, Chevy Chase, MD
Mary Ellen Ternes, McAfee & Taft, Oklahoma City, OK

An Essential Pathway to Sustainability: Energy Efficiency

Quick Teleconference
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time / 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Central Time
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time / 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time

Three expert speakers will discuss the potential for energy efficiency in terms of economics, barriers to implementation, current and emerging technologies, and law. The moderators will be Mark Levine, co-author of the chapter "Sustainable and Unsustainable Developments in the U.S. Energy System," in Agenda for a Sustainable America (Environmental Law Institute 2009), and John Dernbach, editor of Agenda for a Sustainable America. (more)

COP16 Resources

From November 29th until December 10, scientists, political delegates, and other interested parties will travel to Cancun, Mexico for COP16/CMP6.  COP16/CMP6 is the 16th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) and the 6th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP).The following is a compilation of reference materials on the conferencethat may be of interest to Committee members:

Official COP16 Resources

General Climate Change Resources

Blogs, Media, and other COP16/Climate Change Resources

Message from the Chairs

Welcome to the homepage of the Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems Committee. As Co-Chairs of the Committee, our goal is to make the Committee a premier source of information and forum for discussion on the law and policies related  to  climate change, sustainable development, and ecosystems. The coming year will be a very exciting one in these fields and our Committee will continue to be on the forefront of new developments. Here are some of the projects we will be working on this year:

  1. E-mail Updates – The Committee will continue sending "Climate News" updates to our members via our list-serve as well as periodic e-mails on sustainable development and ecosystems news items. We hope this will keep our members abreast of recent developments in the field. If you have an update you would like to share with Committee members, or if you have any comments on the e-mail updates, please e-mail our Technology Vice Chair, Justin Smith.
  2. Programs and Public Service – The Committee will continue to develop excellent programming, including proposals for the Section’s Fall Meeting and Annual Conference on Environmental Law, as well as Regional Programming, and responsive Quick Teleconferences and Webinars during the 2010-2011 ABA year. Substantively, the Committee has committed to focusing on the following areas:
  3. Climate Change – First, the Committee has committed to focusing on “Adaptation: Making It Real.”  Until recently, the climate change dialogue in the US has been largely focused on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. While mitigation is critically important,  that concept hardly captures all of the challenges associated with climate change. Policymakers, regulators and practitioners must also consider evolving adaptation best practices at the local, state, national and global levels to develop effective climate change strategies. The CCSDE is committed to topically defining and establishing parameters for this broad and not well understood topic of “adaptation.” The CCSDE is also committed to educating ABA members regarding how the topic impacts corporate and governmental activities at the local, state, national and global levels.
    The Committee will also continue its fine work regarding monitoring and reporting on climate change legislative efforts; NEPA and climate change; the changing landscape of environmental practice in light of climate change issues; updates on state and regional climate action; the developing structure of a post-Kyoto agreement and efforts post-Copenhagen Conference of the Parties; and  land use and transportation initiatives on climate change. The Committee will continue to monitor the Obama Administration's approach to climate change policy under existing statutes implemented by the Department of Energy, the EPA and other federal agencies. Our efforts include partnering with the Air Quality Committee with respect to EPA’s GHG rulemaking efforts including the GHG endangerment finding, GHG emission tracking and reporting, and the underground injection well rule for carbon dioxide geologic sequestration.
     We will continue to encourage law offices to participate in the ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge. This Law Office Climate Challenge helps law offices reduce their greenhouse gas footprint through paper waste minimization, green power purchasing, and EPA's Energy Star program. For more information on these programs or if you have suggestions for other climate change programs and public service activities, contact our Climate Change, Programs and Public Service, or At Large Vice Chairs.
  4. Sustainable Development – First, the Committee has committed to focusing on Sustainability’s Triple Bottom Line:  Beyond Environment. "Sustainability" is not only synonymous with green measures related to recycling, energy and climate change, but describes a broader concept of sustaining the long term well being of organizations through values-based management. The sustainable governance approach is framed around a strong ethical commitment to the so-called Triple Bottom Line of sustainability: economic, social and environmental responsibility. It is corporate social responsibility or environment, social and governance, as socially responsible investors put it-with financial responsibility added in. Financial responsibility (the economic portion of the Triple Bottom Line) is also considered an essential piece of the concept. Employing people is a commercial business’s most important social obligation and without financial success, no other good works can be done. ABA members (and particularly ABA SEER members) need to be prepared to consider sustainability issues beyond the limited parameters of a purely environmental focus to ensure they are provided the proper tools for counseling clients on sustainability issues.
    Additionally, the Committee will continue to expand the adoption of the Model Sustainable Law Policy and Guidelines, piloted in 2008 at several firms and promoted in 2009, by continuing to actively promote it with law offices during the '10/'11 ABA year and developing best practices. If your office would like to consider adopting the Policy and Guidelines, explore the links on this web page and/or contact Saul Mikalonis or Bill Blackburn. We will also adapt the policy this year for law schools and encourage them to engage in sustainable practices. In addition, we are planning a Quick Teleconference or webinar on sustainable cities, will explore partnering with professional architecture organizations on a green building initiative, and plan to participate in a broad multi-disciplinary event on national sustainability policy. For more information on these programs or if you have suggestions for other programs and public service activities, contact our Sustainable Development, Programs and Public Service or At Large Vice Chairs.
  5. Defining Ecosystem Services and Beginning the Conversation – Ecosystems Services are benefits people derive from nature, including tangible benefits such as fresh water and fish, and more intangible benefits such as pollination and erosion regulation. They are generally taken for granted despite their critical importance, However, as result of increasing stress on the world's ecosystems from causes such as climate change and increasing human population, ecosystem services are degrading at an alarming rate, a rate which is accelerating. Corporate review of reliance on, and impacts to, ecosystem services is developing into accepted due diligence practice along with climate change and water supply. The CCSDE is committed to educating ABA SEER members on the implications of this new area of concern as it matures into new policies and standards. Additionally, the Committee plans to hold a Quick Teleconference or other program on ecosystems payments for reducing deforestation, and cosponsor a conference on ecosystems services. We also plan to host a Quick Teleconference or brown bag on climate change impacts on ecosystems and associated adaptation mechanisms. We will also undertake projects to implement the ABA resolution on ecosystems. For more information on these programs or if you have suggestions for other programs and public service activities, contact our Ecosystems Vice Chairs, Programs and Public Service Vice Chairs or At Large Vice Chairs.
  6. Committee Newsletter – The Committee plans to publish four quarterly newsletters during the coming year. We will collaborate with other Committees on two of the newsletters. Our first issue will be a joint publication, with the ADR Committee, on climate change and environmental conflict resolution. Our other newsletters will contain articles covering all three subject areas of the Committee. The newsletter is an excellent opportunity to remain informed on legal and policy developments on climate change, sustainability, and ecosystems. If you are interested in submitting an article or have an idea you would like to discuss, please contact our Newsletter Vice Chairs.
  7. The Year In Review – Each year, the Committee contributes a section on climate change, sustainable development, and ecosystems to the ABA SEER The Year in Review. This publication provides an excellent summary of the most significant events in the field. If you are interested in working on The Year in Review for our Committee, please contact our The Year in Review Vice Chairs.
  8. Web Page – Please take some time to explore the links listed in the right navigation of this page, which will take you to our latest newsletters, information about our Sustainable Law Office Policy, an events archive page with materials from our conferences and teleconferences, and links to other helpful Web sites. The Committee will continue to enhance this Web site to give our members access to the most current and emerging issues, to communicate to our members about Committee activities, and to host dialogue discussion. To contribute to the Web page or if you have ideas for improving its content, please contact our Technology Vice Chair.
  9. Membership – The Committee is always looking for new ways to serve its existing members, ensure that both new and long-term members have an opportunity to become involved in Committee activities, and attract new members and ensure diversity in our Committee. We welcome new members and will continue our efforts to recruit interested attorneys, policy-makers, consultants and engineers to our Committee. In recognition of the importance that climate change, sustainable development, and ecosystems will have for future generations, we will continue our outreach to law students, National Association of Environmental Law Societies organizations, and young lawyers. If you have ideas about how we can best serve our current members or how to recruit new members, contact our Membership Vice Chairs.

Interested in joining? If you are already a member of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, you may select the Committee on Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems, as one of your five committee memberships and join without any increase in your ABA dues. If you are not a member of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, and you are interested in joining, read about the benefits of membership. You can become a member of this ABA Section electronically at this link and select the Committee on Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems as one of your committees.

We encourage you to become actively involved in the Committee and welcome you to enjoy the benefits of Committee membership outlined above. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about the activities of the Committee, would like to become more involved with the projects we plan to undertake this year, or if you are interested in initiating a project not listed above.

Frank Friedman and Mary Ellen Ternes

EPA Denies Petitions Challenging Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding

On July 29, EPA denied ten petitions for reconsideration of its findings that greenhouse gas pollution endangers human health and welfare and that emissions from motor vehicles cause or contribute to greenhouse gas pollution.  The petitions claimed that those findings were called into question by more recent developments in climate science, and (in EPA’s words) “asserted a conspiracy that called into question the findings” of various scientific reports issued relating to climate change.  In its response, EPA emphasized that the alleged developments identified in the petitions did not call into question the basis of its findings, and stated that climate science is “robust, voluminous, and compelling.”

Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its 2009 State of the Climate report, which observed, among other salient facts, that the 2000-2009 decade has been, on average, the hottest decade ever recorded.

January 2010 Updates

William R. Blackburn, former CCSDE Co-Chair and Author of The Sustainability Handbook, has made available a useful tool for calculating the carbon footprint of law firms and other office-based organizations. This includes important categories of both direct and indirect emissions. A copy is available here.

The ABA Multistate Forum on Law Organization Sustainability Practices has compiled a report summarizing the ABA SEER and state and local bar initiatives associated with sustainability and environmental practices at law firms. A copy is available here. As you can see from the report, there has been an explosion of activity on this topic recently. At the end of the document is a long list of tools that may be of help to those interested in moving their own firms along this path. We encourage you to participate in one or more of these initiatives. We especially urge you to join new endorser Pepper Hamilton LLP and a dozen other noteworthy firms across the country in adopting the ABA SEER Model Sustainability Policy (or equivalent), which was developed by our Committee on Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Ecosystems with the help of many other ABA groups. If you have questions about the report, please contact committee members Bill Blackburn (WRB@WBlackburnConsulting.com, or call him at: (847) 530-4014) or Saul Mikalonis (smikalonis@plunkettcooney.com, or call him at: (248) 901-4022).

Section Sponsored Resolutions

Urges U.S. Government to Take an Active Role in Addressing Climate Change
Urges the United States government to take a leadership role in addressing the issue of climate change through legal, policy, financial and educational mechanisms and to engage in active international discussions to address climate change, and urges Congress to enact and the President to sign appropriate climate change legislation.

Urges federal, state, territorial and tribal governments, when considering and approving legislation, regulations and policies, to preserve and enhance the benefits that people derive from ecosystems, with due regard for economic, human and social impacts.

About the Committee

The unique scope of the Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems Committee focuses on three interrelated topics of increasing importance at the international and domestic levels. The Committee is long-established as the leading forum for those engaged in the regulatory and legal aspects of climate change. The Committee is also leading the Section-wide effort to raise awareness of sustainability concepts and to integrate sustainability thinking across all environmental practice areas. Finally, the Committee works with other Section Committees to explore ecosystem-based approaches to environmental protection and regulation.

Our members represent a cross-section of stakeholders involved in the fields of climate change, sustainability, and ecosystems and many are leaders in their field. As a result, we have a very dynamic Committee with a great deal of activity. We welcome the participation of new members and collaboration with other Committees and organizations. Our membership has continued to quickly grow over the past few years, reflecting the increasing public recognition of the importance of these issues.


Frank B. Friedman

Mary Ellen Ternes

Vice Chairs:
Committee Newsletters
Gabriel Calvo

Alan S. Miller

Thomas P. Redick

John J.  Lormon

Daniel Worth

Programs & Public Service
John Clancy

Christopher Carr

Susan E. Cowell

Michael E. Heintz

Martin A. Spitzer

R. Justin Smith

The Year in Review
Marianne Tyrrell

At Large
William R. Blackburn

William L. Fang

Ira R. Feldman

Bernard F. Hawkins, Jr.

Arnold W. Reitze Jr.

Joseph A. Siegel

Climate Change
Kyle L. Davis

Climate Change (International)
Donald A. Brown

Jeffrey B. Gracer

Robert B. McKinstry, Jr.

Sustainable Development (Law Firms)
Saulius K. Mikalonis

Sustainable Development (Law Schools)
John C. Dernbach

Sustainable Development (Local and Regional Government)
Deeohn Ferris

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