Water, Water, Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink: Transboundary Freshwater Management and Climate Change

Stephanie Zable
Vol. 39 Articles Editor

Mexico City is sinking.[1] So concludes a New York Times article detailing the implications of climate change for Mexico City. But the article also notes the most severe and immediate consequence of climate change for cities all over the world: the effect on fresh water resources. In many places, climate change will cause longer and more frequent droughts, while increased heat will cause an increase in evaporation of groundwater and a decrease in river-feeding snowpack.[2] Critically, these effects will vary place-to-place, so changes will occur in not only water quantity but also water distribution. The result is that the world is about to see a massive shift in water-wealth and -poverty that will have drastic and potentially devastating effects on freshwater resources around the globe.[3] Continue reading

Resolving the Volkswagen Scandal

Christina Foster, Vol. 37 Associate Editor

Volkswagen, the largest automaker in the world, made headlines last month after it admitted to installing defeat devices in its diesel engines to evade emissions standards. The initial discoveries came from the United States, but the company later admitted that approximately 11 million Volkswagen cars worldwide contain the device.[1] According to the German Transport Minister, Alexander Dobrindt, Volkswagen manipulated emissions tests in Europe as well.[2] Credit Suisse estimates that the scandal could cost the company up to 78 billion euros.[3] This has already had huge implications for shareholders across the globe as shares have dropped over 35%, and the fallout is likely to continue.[4] According to Volkswagen’s Chairman, Hans Dieter Poetsch, the scandal has become “an existence-threatening crisis for the company.”[5] This raises the question of how far the world should push to hold Volkswagen accountable. Continue reading

Analysis of the Success of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol

Marjorie Mygrants, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer are perhaps the most successful international treaties the world has seen.  In fact, both of the agreements are the most widely ratified treaties in United Nations history.[1]  This fact alone has helped lead to much of the treaties’ success, especially since worldwide recognition of a problem and willingness to take specific action to address the problem is a process that is necessary for a significant impact to occur in resolving the issue.  Of course, this is the goal of any treaty.  But, the reality is that most treaties are lacking in some criteria – enforcement, breadth of state ratification, and/or compliance with terms of the treaty.  This article will address the aspects that have made the treaty so successful. Continue reading

Environmental Criminal Tribunals: Providing a Voice to The World

Emily Rutkowski, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

The United States’ success stories of shutting down multinational corporations (MNCs) for environmental pollution often results in factories relocating from the West to the developing world. For example, Ciba, a manufacturing plant, secretly polluted the town of Toms River, New Jersey for decades before the case was made public. Once exposed, they simply closed their doors and reopened in China.   The legal system’s current framework is insufficient at providing remedies in many of these cases. Alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”), can play an important role in providing solutions to ensure that polluters cannot exploit regulatory arbitrage and relocate to loosely regulated jurisdictions in the developing world where polluters can disproportionately shift the burden of pollution onto the poor and underrepresented. In particular, this can be achieved by incorporating ADR mechanisms through specialized Environmental Courts and Tribunals (“ECTs”). ADR can help close the gaps in the current framework, both by bringing more voices to the table, allowing those voices to be heard, and providing a forum for relief. Continue reading