At What Cost?

A protest in Sydney, Australia
This image gives new meaning to the phrase “a picture says a thousand words”

By: Richard Bourne-Vanneck, II

When considering the different arguments in support of environmental legislation, perhaps the most compelling reason is that the present generation has a moral duty to preserve the earth for future generations. A protest in Sydney, Australia this past week highlighted this sentiment by way of a symbolic message. Expressing their disapproval in Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s refusal to include climate change on the agenda of this month’s G20 summit,[1] On November 13, 2014, 400 demonstrators at Bondi Beach buried their heads in the sand. The silent message was clear. Prime Minister Abbott, you cannot bury your head in the sand when it comes to addressing climate change.

Prime Minister Abbott was elected on a campaign of maximizing economic growth and a pledge to not address climate change. He recently repelled Australia’s carbon tax on emissions and has taken an aggressive stance against the use and investment in renewable energies. The tragedy of Prime Minister Abbott’s stance is that even if his positions and policies yield short-term economic success, his actions are still morally reprehensible for their effect on future generations. Forcing others to pay one’s costs is stealing. And passing-on the negative externality of greenhouse gas emissions, forces future generations to inherent those costs – essentially stealing from them the opportunity to fully utilize the Earth’s natural resources. So I ask Prime Minister Abbott, “What are the true costs of maximizing short-term economic gain, and are they worth it?”

Richard Bourne-Vanneck, II is a 3L at The Pennsylvania State University–The Dickinson School of Law, and a Senior Editor on the Journal of Law and International Affairs.


 

[1] https://news.vice.com/article/400-people-bury-their-heads-in-the-sand-to-protest-australian-prime-ministers-stance-on-climate-change?utm_source=vicenewstwitter

 

Scottish Independence Vote and the Aftermath

By: Hilary Flack

Two months after the historic vote for Scottish independence, the UK seems to have completely forgotten that the vote ever took place. Currently, the two major papers’ websites, the Telegraph and the Guardian, do not even turn up recent results dealing with Scottish reform when it is specifically searched for.  While 56% of Scottish voters chose to remain part of the United Kingdom, the 46% of “Yes” voters cannot, and should not be ignored by the rest of the United Kingdom. The fact remains that the Scottish Nationalist Party, whose rise to power precipitated this vote, still holds a solid majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament, a majority which they fully expect to retain in the upcoming election. Though the Scots have indicated they are not ready to leave the United Kingdom, they do want substantial changes. Compared with the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland’s people lie far to the left. Scotland is well aware of this divide, and has pushed for further devolution to the Parliament in Scotland not only to bring their politicians closer to home, but also to further the causes of the Scottish electorate. The powers of the Scottish Parliament are severely limited, preventing any major changes being accomplished without support from Westminster. This led 46% of Scots to think that it was time to leave the United Kingdom, breaking a bond that has linked Scotland to England, Ireland and Wales for over 300 years. Though nationalists do not yet have a majority in favor of leaving the UK, those seeking more powers for Scotland do hold a majority in Scottish Parliament. This, at the very least, indicated that the majority of Scottish people want more control over Scotland to go to the Scottish parliament, and for Westminster to wield less power over Scotland’s future.

Hilary Flack is a 3L at The Pennsylvania State University–The Dickinson School of Law, and a Senior Editor on the Journal of Law and International Affairs. 

The Recognition of Palestine As A State

By: Georgina Buckley

The recognition of Palestine as a state has been growing traction across the European Union. On October 13 British lawmakers voted in favor of a symbolic recognition of Palestine. Sweden took a step further and formally announced its recognition of Palestine as a state on October 30. This move was met with criticism by both Israel and the United States. However, British lawmakers supported their move by stating that the recognition of Palestine was tied to what they saw as a contribution to a negotiated two-state solution. Israeli officials feared that the move by Sweden could trigger other European countries to follow suit. Additionally, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Israel said in a statement that the Swedish government should understand that relations in the Middle East are “more complex than one of Ikea’s flat-pack pieces of furniture, and would do well to act with greater sensitivity and responsibility.” One would think that comparing Swedish governmental decisions to Ikea furniture would not exactly display the greatest sensitivity. However, Israeli fears of more E.U. nations following suit are not unfounded. On November 28, French lawmakers will vote on a proposal submitted by the French socialist party to recognize Palestine as a state. The French have reasoned that recognition of Palestine as a state will promote peace. The impact that these decisions will have on the negotiation process between Israel and Palestine will soon be seen.

Georgina Buckley is a 3L at The Pennsylvania State University–The Dickinson School of Law, and a Senior Editor on the Journal of Law and International Affairs.


 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/world/europe/sweden-recognizes-palestinian-state.html

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/France-to-vote-November-28-on-Palestinian-state-recognition-381593

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/11/12/French-lawmakers-to-vote-Nov-28-on-recognizing-Palestine-.html

The World’s Largest Banking Institutions Fined Over $3 Billion for Foreign Market Collusion

By: Jonathan Burr

On Wednesday, November 12th six of the world’s largest banking institutions were imposed with a $4.3 billion penalty by international trade watchdogs.[1] The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Office of Comptroller of Currency (OCC), Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) conducted an international investigation that lasted for 13 months.[2] The investigation focused on whether the large worldwide banking firms colluded with counterparts at other firms in order to rig foreign exchange (“forex”) benchmarks.[3] The investigation revealed that UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), HSBC Holdings, JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Bank of America colluded with counterparts in other institutions over instant messaging by sharing information about their client orders. The sharing of client information allowed these banking firms to manipulate the market by combining orders to cause the benchmark rate to fluctuate in the bank’s favor.[4] However, these settlements may not be the end.

Other regulators are still investigating the misconduct. Currently, the United States Justice Department is investigating for criminal misconduct and the Federal Reserve and Department of Financial Services in New York did not participate in the settlement and may extract their own penalties for currency manipulation.[5] In addition, other international regulators in London are still conducting their investigation.[6]

Jonathan Burr is a 3L at The Pennsylvania State University–The Dickinson School of Law, and a Senior Editor on the Journal of Law and International Affairs. 


 

[1] Soergel, Andrew, Banks Slammed With Record-Breaking Fine, U.S. NEWS (Nov. 12, 2014) http://www.usnews.com/news/newsgram/articles/2014/11/12/ban
ks-fined-billions-in-exchange-rate-investigation.

[2] Ring, Suzi, Six Banks to Pay $4.3 Billion in First Wave of Currency-Rigging Penalties, BLOOMBERG (Nov. 12, 2014), http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-12/banks-to-pay-3-3-billion-in-fx-manipulation-probe.html.

[3] See Picardo, Elvis, How the Forex “Fix” May Be Rigged, Investopedia, September 02, 2014 available at http://www.investopedia.com/articles/forex/031714/howforex-fix-may-be-rigged.asp, The foreign exchange benchmark, also known as the WM/Reuters Benchmark rates, are used to value trillions of dollars held in investments by pension funds and money manages worldwide. These rates are set daily at 4 p.m. in London and are an average of buy and sell orders conducted during a minute window. Additionally, these benchmark rates are very important because 21 of the world’s major currencies are calculated on all trades in the one-minute period.

[4] See supra n. 2 (The penalties are as follows: Citigroup $1.02 billion, JPMorgan Chase $996 million, UBS $800 million, RBS $634 million, HSBC Holdings $618 million, Bank of America $250 million).

[5] Bray, Chad, Big Banks Are Fined $4.25 Billion in Inquiry Into Currency-Rigging, NY TIMES (November 12, 2014), http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/11/12/british-and-u-s-regulators-fine-big-banks-3-16-billion-in-foreign-exchange-scandal/?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar.

[6] Id.

The United Nations Urged to Take Decisive Action by People’s Climate March

By: Rebecca A. Buckley-Stein

Climate change remains an urgent international issue. Preventative action is necessary as more communities and countries suffer the negative effects of increased global temperatures and depletion of necessary resources. Further, climate change’s disparate impact on low income and indigenous communities raises issues of social justice, prejudice, and equality. Despite increased concern, the United Nations has struggled to enforce international treaties targeted at climate change. [i]

In anticipation of the UN’s 2014 Climate Summit, environmental and social justice activists organized massive political action. This global strategic activism urged the United Nations to decisively act against climate change.[ii]

On September 21st the People’s Climate March hosted 2,646 events in 162 countries.[iii] The largest march happened in New York City with approximately 400,000 people.[iv] Because the People’s Climate March occurred during the United Nations 2014 Climate Summit it attracted several powerful leaders including Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, who walked alongside protesters in the march.[v]

The People’s Climate March urged the United Nations, and the United States, to deal with climate change by holding corporate and government actors accountable for the degradation of the environment.[vi] However, the People’s Climate March did not publish a unified mission statement.[vii] Instead each of the 1,574 organizations participating in the event pushed their individual platform.

The following day, an off-shoot of the People’s Climate March – Flood Wall Street – engaged in non-violent protest in an attempt to highlight the connection between exploitive economic systems and the degradation of the natural environment.[viii] Flood Wall Street was a smaller event with approximately 1,000 people.[ix] Despite the small size, Flood Wall Street’s message was clear; “confront the root cause of the climate crisis – an economic system based on exploiting frontline communities, workers and natural resources.”[x] 102 people were arrested at the Flood Wall Street protest. Notably, New York City police arrested a man dressed as a polar bear.[xi]

Rebecca A. Buckley-Stein is a 3L at The Pennsylvania State University–The Dickinson School of Law, and a Senior Editor on the Journal of Law and International Affairs.


 

[i]See generally, Erik B. Bluemel, Responses to Global Warming: The Law, Economics, and Science of Climate Change: Symposium Scholar: Unraveling the Global Warming Regime Complex: Competitive Entropy in the Regulation of the Global Public Good, 155 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1981 (2007); Bruce Yandle, Stuart Buck, Bootleggers, Baptists, and the Global Warming Battle, 26 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 177, 180 (2002) “[…] various nations and corporations have tried to influence Kyoto’s terms to serve their own parochial interests at the expense of the public good.”

[ii]  UN Climate Summit 2014, No “Plan B” for climate action as there is no “Planet B” says UN Chief, http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/2014/09/plan-b-climate-action-planet-b-says-un-chief/ (last visited Nov. 14, 2014).

[iii] People’s Climate March, Wrap Up, http://peoplesclimate.org/wrap-up/ (last visited Nov. 14, 2014).

[iv]  Id.

[v]  Supra Note 2.

[vi] A main slogan for the People’s Climate March was “People, Plant, and Peace Over Profit” coined by the Green Party Presidential Candidate, Dr. Jill Stein. See, Dr. Jill Stein and Ben Manski, The Global Climate Stike: Why We Can’t Wait , available at http://globalclimateconvergence.org/2014/09/popular-resistance-global-climate-strike-cant-wait-september-24-2014/

[vii]  Acronym TV Interview with Nasatarn Mohit, Confronting White Privilege in the Climate Justice Movement, http://youtu.be/3YN-scEEIks (last visited Nov. 14, 2014).

[viii]  Flood Wall Street, http://floodwallstreet.net/

[ix]  NY Daily News, 102 people arrested or summoned in Flood Wall Street Protest in Lower Manhattan, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/flood-wall-street-highlights-climate-crisis-article-1.1948574 (last visited Nov. 14, 2014).

[x] Supra Note 8.

[xi] Supra Note 9.