Chinese National Emissions Trading Scheme Update – some progress but more questions than answers

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment, in its first formal publication on the subject of the Chinese emissions trading scheme since taking over the responsibility for its development from the National Development and Reform Commission, published draft ‘Interim Regulations’ in April 2019 setting out the overarching legislative framework proposed for the scheme.

Whilst this publication is very welcome and long-overdue, its sparsity highlights how much work still remains to be carried out and publicised before the scheme can be fully made operational. This client paper assesses the ‘Interim Regulations’ and considers some of the known-unknowns that follow from its publication.

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The future of UK carbon emissions policy

The UK government is currently consulting on the future policy options for the regulation and pricing of carbon emissions once the UK has left the EU.  The government’s preferred option is to establish a UK-only emissions trading scheme (UK ETS) and to secure a formal link with the EU ETS in order to have renewed access to the EU carbon market. Several alternative options have also been tabled by the government in recognition that establishing a UK-EU linked ETS would be politically fraught and could take considerable time. The consultation will be of particular interest to companies, industry bodies and other stakeholders in the industrial, power and aviation sectors, as well as carbon traders.

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Modern Slavery Act independent review – final report published: significant change is on the way

The final report of the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 carried out by Frank Field MP, Maria Miller MP and Baroness Butler-Sloss, has been published. It is available here (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-the-modern-slavery-act-final-report). Should the government take up the proposals, the Modern Slavery Act could be significantly amended to become more robust. There are over 80 recommendations across the four areas the report considered: the role of the independent anti-slavery commissioner, transparency in supply chains, independent child trafficking advocates and the legal application of the Modern Slavery Act.

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The year it becomes real – ICAO CORSIA: 2019

The ICAO CORSIA initiative has commenced monitoring, reporting and verification obligations imposed on aircraft operators with effect from 1 January 2019. Data collected will form the baseline to determine subsequent offsetting requirements. Aircraft operators attributed to a country likely to be participating in the voluntary compliance phase from 2021 to 2023 should also take note of the various deadlines for compliance and monitor for updates from the ICAO Council on the offset credits that would qualify under CORSIA. Continue Reading

California air emission regulation expands for shipping industry

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) intends to expand its existing Ocean-Going Vessels At-Berth Regulation (the Regulation) in order to reduce further air emissions from ships docked in California. Proposed changes include:

  1. Increasing the number of ports and facilities subject to the Regulation;
  2. Expanding the types of vessels covered by the Regulation; and
  3. Changing the threshold for when emission control requirements are triggered.

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Reprint may soon be needed for California cannabis warning labels

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) announced on March 15, 2019, that it is collecting public comments regarding the inclusion of cannabis on the Proposition 65 list of substances known to cause birth defects. Such a finding by OEHHA would require those in the California cannabis industry to change their warning labels, informing users of the risk of birth defects.

One of the many challenges facing the cannabis industry is ensuring compliance with a state’s evolving labeling and warning requirements. Manufacturers, distributors and retailers in the California cannabis industry may have to anticipate further changes in light of the State developing new information about cannabis and related products.

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What does the Pennsylvania EHB aggregation decision and opinion mean for your business?

Clean Air Council v. Department of Environmental Protection and Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals, L.P., EHB Dkt. No. 2016073L (Adjudication Jan. 9, 2019)

On January 9, 2019, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board issued its adjudication in an appeal by Clean Air Council of a plan approval issued to Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals, L.P. The Board ultimately remanded the plan approval to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for further consideration. The Board’s discussion of why it remanded the plan approval provides in-depth insight into what it considers to be indicia of project aggregation for purposes of New Source Review (NSR) and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) under the Clean Air Act.

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Environmental Areas of Interest in 2019 – A look ahead

The past year has been a busy one in environmental law and policy. While a look ahead could include topics such as likely impacts from continuing efforts by the current U.S. administration to bolster use of coal-fired energy or the myriad lawsuits facing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2019 from environmental groups and state attorneys general, from a business perspective, developments in air and
water related litigation and regulation are likely to have the most immediate domestic consequences in the coming year.

Examining environmental areas of interest in the macro, climate change lawsuits and policy will continue to factor into everything from investing and insurance, to energy sector decision making.

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