“It’s great to be here in Harrisburg,” said Dr. Marjan Peeters on Tuesday April 21st, right before she addressed members of the faculty, staff, and students at Widener Law’s Harrisburg Campus on “EU Climate Policy and the Striking Emergence of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading”.
A renowned lecturer on international, european and national environmental law, Dr. Peeters visited Widener Law for a week at the invitation of Distinguished Professor of Law John C. Dernbach
. In introducing Dr. Peeters to the audience, Professor Dernbach joked, “Marjan and I met in Mexico City at a conference. So if you’re wondering what the value of these conferences is, sometimes we bring people with us.”
“The central topic of my lecture is the striking emergence of greenhouse gas emissions trading in Europe,” opened Dr. Peeters, before reminding the audience to “remember that the EU is not a state.” She discussed the importance of the Principle of Subsidiarity in the European Union, noting that there is a shared competence for environmental policy among the EU institutions and the Member States. “You must look at both the European Union standards and those of the individual member states for getting a comprehensive overview of European climate policy,” she emphasized.
Dr. Peeters covered the EU ratification of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union’s emission reduction targets for all member states for 2012-2020, and the differences in national programs, such as the British Climate Change Act of 2008. She observed that the idea of emissions trading was initially rejected in Europe as “pollution for sale,” and that many advocated a tax system instead. Individual member states were not comfortable with giving the European Union power over taxes, however.
“The European Union Commission moves forward quickly and claims to be a ‘Green Leader,’” said Dr. Peeters, adding, “I feel they should be a bit more modest as we still have a lot to learn, in particular regarding the emissions trading instrument.” She concluded by noting that the EU now governs emissions trading, rather than member states, and that there will be no more national allocation plans after 2013. Yet, she said, enforcement is still left to member states. At the conclusion of her talk, Professor Peeters took questions from the attentive audience, answering a variety of questions about allocations and enforcement.
Dr. Peeters kept a busy schedule for the entire week. In addition to her presentation at Widener’s Harrisburg campus, she attended a legislative briefing at the state capitol on Tuesday morning and met with state government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations. Later in the afternoon, she spoke at Lebanon Valley College. On Wednesday the 22nd, she traveled to Washington to meet with EPA officials, and on Friday, she presented her talk to faculty members on the Widener Law Delaware Campus. She also visited the Gettsyburg battlefields with her son, Sjoerd, on their way back to the airport on Saturday.