By Trevor Schmitt

China’s Great Firewall will remain closed to companies which choose not to conform to China’s online censorship and oversight laws. Chinese regulators announced last month at a conference in Geneva that Google and Facebook must adhere to local law if they want access to all 751 million of mainland China’s internet users. Google, Facebook, and Twitter are among the companies currently blocked from providing services in mainland China.

According to Qi Xiaoxia, Director of the Bureau of International Cooperation at the Cyberspace Administration of China, if the companies choose to comply with Chinese law, they will be allowed access to the county’s massive online market. Speaking before the Internet Governance forum at the U.N.’s European headquarters, Qi Xiaoxia went on to note that “[t]he condition is that they have to abide by Chinese law and regulations. That is the bottom line. And also, that they would not do any harm to Chinese national security and national consumers’ interests.”

Considered one of the most comprehensive legislative acts in Chinese history, mainland China’s cybersecurity law went into effect just six months ago. The law’s primary purpose is to allow Chinese officials unfettered access into the digital lives of their population. Among the law’s many provisions, tech companies must store Chinese data locally, submit to data surveillance, and provide censorship tools to prevent users from subverting the government’s sovereignty over expression.

The law also provides Chinese officials with the power to conduct “national security reviews” of technology that companies want to use or sell in the Chinese market. These security reviews may allow China to identify weaknesses in foreign technology security to exploit in their own intelligence gathering, according to a report by the Insikt Group.

Violators of the law face fines of up to 1 million Yuan (~$150,000) or even potential criminal charges.

Reactions among U.S. technology executives haven been overtly negative according to a new survey conducted by the U.S.-China Business Council. Of the respondents surveyed, 82% noted that they “are concerned about the impact of China’s cyber and data regulations.”

Driving this concern is the fear that Chinese oversight may put their intellectual property at risk. Early in December, at China’s state-sponsored World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, representatives from 60 foreign technology companies and trade groups expressed concerns over China’s “national security reviews.” According to the representatives, extensive review of their network equipment could reveal proprietary source code putting their trade secrets at risk.

In 2016, internet watchdog firm Freedom House placed China as the world’s “worst abuser of internet freedom” for the second consecutive year.

Despite these concerns, some companies are moving forward with compliance. Shortly after the law went into effect, Apple Inc. announced plans to build a new data center in mainland China in order to conform with the law’s data localization requirements. Since that announcement, Apple has taken down hundreds of apps at the request of Chinese officials, including Microsoft’s Skype, from its online store. Many of the removed apps enabled users in mainland China to access virtual private networks (VPNs), a means of evading censorship.

Apple’s close relationship with Chinese regulators has not gone unnoticed. In an open letter following Apple’s removal of the VPN apps, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked the iPhone giant to “push back” on China’s control over free expression. According to the letter, companies like apple “have both an opportunity and a moral obligation to promote freedom of expression and other basic human rights.”

In any event, the position of Chinese regulators remains clear. According to Qi Xiaoxia, “[w]e are of the idea that cyberspace is not a space that is ungoverned. We need to administer, or supervise, or manage, the internet according to law.” And if foreign tech companies want access to mainland China’s digital market, they will have to comply with China’s laws. 

By Maura Sokol

On November 15th, 2017, Georgetown University Law Center’s Human Rights Institute hosted a panel discussion on business and human rights. Monitored by Professor Mitt Regan, representatives from major corporations, the Responsible Business Alliance, and the federal government spoke about how better business practices can have an impact on human rights across the globe. Although there is international cooperation in the area of human rights, protection from the harmful impacts of business operations still varies widely. Because there is no global regulator to ensure that everyone enjoys the same basic levels of protection, there is a major governance gap in human rights. This gap is now being addressed in part by businesses, who have taken a new approach to viewing their companies as having an obligation to respect certain human rights, regardless of local laws.

Genevieve Taft-Vazquez is a Director in the Global Workplace Rights department for the Coca Cola Company, and discussed how Coca Cola has tried to move from a supply chain evaluation to a deeper look at the whole value chain of Coca Cola production and manufacturing. Coca Cola works under a franchise model, and they previously focused on ensuring respect for human rights with their independent bottlers by providing Guiding Principles for their suppliers. The company has moved to a more comprehensive approach, looking at agricultural production, advertising sponsors, human rights due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, and evaluating the implications of buying land for new bottling sites.

Katie Shay, Legal Counsel on Business and Human Rights for Oath (formerly Yahoo), discussed the issues of privacy and freedom of expression. These are the main human rights issues of concern for this type of major internet company. Oath maintains data on their users that local governments would like to access, and Oath is the gatekeeper between the information and government actors. To protect privacy rights, Oath tries to provide notice to the user in most cases. In other situations, where governments would like content to be removed, Oath works to ensure that the request was legal if the content is not in violation of Oath’s own policies on permissible content. Working with local governments in this way can be a tricky task, as the consequence of being non-compliant is often that their services will be blocked in the country at issue.

Carlos Busquets works for the Responsible Business Alliance, a group of tech companies that came together to work on human rights issues (the group has now opened up to other companies as well). The companies came together to agree on a common Code of Conduct for businesses to address a number of human rights issues. One key issue in the tech industry is the use of forced labor. A 2013 report revealed that 30-40% of those working in electronics are working under forced labor conditions. The RBA came to the conclusion that it was not enough for electronics companies to say they do not want their products made by those under forced labor; companies have to make sure that the ways workers find themselves in a forced labor situation are no longer present. Companies must then go a step further to try and change the very market that creates incentives for workers to be abused in such a way. The RBA created a set of due diligence tools for companies to use to combat practices and improve the issue and to create a market for ethical recruitment.

Jenny Stein is the Acting Team Leader for the Internet Freedom and Business and Human Rights team in the Office of Multilateral and Global Affairs within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State. Ms. Stein’s team approaches business and human rights as a continuously evolving paradigm. The Bureau promotes human rights generally and also addresses critical issue areas, such as Burma, North Korea, and Bangladesh in the past. They work bilaterally with governments as well as with multilateral organizations such as the UN Human Rights Counsel. Major focuses currently include trying to advance accountability and transparency, and how to guide companies on their human rights responsibilities and conduct outside of the US. 

Three guiding principles in human rights law are to protect, respect, and provide remedies. Many believe that this third pillar is underdeveloped, and the panel spent some time discussing the development of remedies. Conventionally, there are two types of remedies, judicial and nonjudicial. An example of the possibilities of judicial remedies includes the current Supreme Court case of Jesner v. Arab Bank, in which the Supreme Court will address the question of whether companies can be sued abroad for human rights abuses. An example of a nonjudicial remedy is the system of complaints that can be made through the U.S. State Department if a business violates one of the OECD guidelines. However, the panelists encouraged the audience to think more broadly about the concept of remedy, and to ask ourselves: how can we remedy the broader issue, and not just an individual case? This is an ongoing and evolving issue in human rights law, and one that businesses are working to address. 

By Thea McDonald
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Imagine the devastation, an international bad actor hacks into an American airplane in flight and autopilots the plane remotely. In a post-9/11 world, this is a frightening possibility. Thankfully, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we are not at that point. 

We are, however, at the point of government officials being able to successfully test hack a Boeing 757, as a DHS official explained at last month's CyberStat Summit.

According to Avionics, the test hack occurred in September 2016, but DHS official Robert Hickey didn't announce the successful attempt publicly until last month. Hickey told CyberStat Summit attendees that the details of the 757 hack are classified, but that the joint government, industry and academic team that executed the test “establish[ed] a presence” on the aircraft via the plane’s radio frequency while the plane was parked at Atlantic City airport. To highlight the potential risks, the hack team only used items that a typical flier could bring through the TSA security checkpoint.

While the hack was executed remotely – meaning that no one was physically touching or on the aircraft – the “hackers” couldn't actually reach the plane’s controls that alter the flight path. This probably reads as comforting news to most frequent fliers, but the potential for a commercial aircraft to be vulnerable to remote manipulation seems to be generations ahead of a passenger’s cell phone signal interfering with ground systems.

And even though production of Boeing 757s was discontinued in 2004, many commercial airlines still have 757s in their employ, and the president and vice president still travel on the 757 model.

We live in a world where cyber-attacks are daily news and international cyber-criminals hold American businesses’ information hostage. If a terrorist ever managed to take down a single commercial U.S. airliner – or infinitely worse, many airliners in a coordinated attack – the information hacks we see so frequently would pale in comparison to the devastation this kind of coordinated aviation cyber-attack would bring. Now, the U.S. government’s national security teams must not only worry about cyber-attacks that could cause massive booking problems, strand passengers, and create massive delays, but must assess and mitigate the possibility of cyber-attacks that could take lives at the click of a button or the maneuver of a virtual joystick.

An ability to breach the cockpit could take us into a world where a 9/11-style attack could be executed without the hijackers anywhere physically near the aircraft. The international legal complications of such an attack may give cyber-smart international terrorists a get out of jail free card.

The legal quandary could get even messier based on which country a hacked plane took off from and where it was headed. The type of agreement, or lack thereof, that the U.S. has with the country of the flight’s origin, plus the location of any mid-flight accident, could affect possible jurisdictions for the government and passengers’ survivors to bring suit.

Thankfully, there are several steps and missing pieces any potential bad actor would have to put in place to get from a successful government on-the-ground, stationary hack test that couldn’t reach the plane’s control system to a successful hack of a mobile airborne target that completely takes over control of the craft. 

In the wake of the DHS test hack news, cybersecurity analyst and former State Department adviser Morgan Wright joined FOX News to discuss the test’s implications. Citing our aircrafts’ aging infrastructure and the successful hack, Wright expressed his concern: “If you take down one plane, I have to act as though every plane is vulnerable, and now I have to defend every single plane.”
By Jesse Van Genugten

Photo: The World Bank, Creative Common License

The practice of international arbitration continues to develop in complex ways that sometimes address discontent with the legal system as a whole. It thus remains useful to gauge the experience and expertise of practitioners familiar with the growth within and around the field of international arbitration. Only then can we explore the intricacy of the changes afoot. 

Hosted by the Center on International Commercial Arbitration, at the American University Washington College of Law, a panel of lawyers convened on a cold day in November 2017 to do just that. Three attorneys more than capable of holding their own in arbitral proceedings sat down to discuss current salient issues in Bilateral Investment Treaty (“BIT”) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) arbitration. Professor Susan Franck opened the debate by describing the speakers’ qualifications.  There were legal representatives from both sides of the typical arbitral proceeding with experience in fields from infrastructure, mining and energy corporations to sovereign states. Each attorney, when asked, highlighted the interplay between public perception and the legitimacy of the institutional framework. 

The variety of different actors and interests has produced a difficult interaction for international arbitration lawyers to analyze, particularly in ad hoc BIT and ICSID arbitration proceedings. This list of actors includes the parties to the arbitration – most commonly international corporations and a sovereign state – as well as the citizens of that state and other states. The current environment of international investment law was crafted largely with the intention of ensuring the protection of international corporate investments, a one-sided affair that, in case of arbitral awards against the state, can lead to the perceived lack of legitimacy in the system. This systemic structure has recently come under scrutiny in a search for the protection of state sovereign interests in enacting relevant regulatory protections. 

Nevertheless, that push can fail to gain legal traction in international arbitral bodies, which are forced to rely on black-letter law rather than public interest in making determinations, leading often to disastrous results. In the paradigm cases, particularly the cases readily available to the casual newsreader – e.g. Philip Morris and Australia's plain packaging laws – corporate interests clash with the international normative construct of comity, which favors the ability of a foreign jurisdiction to legislate as it wishes. In the Philip Morris case in 2012, Australia banned companies selling tobacco products from displaying their corporate logo and brand on cigarette packages, drawing immediate backlash from the tobacco industry. Philip Morris initiated arbitration proceedings against Australia under the Hong Kong-Australia BIT, and although the three-arbitrator panel found it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case in December 2015, the dispute prompted toxic reactions in the national and international press. 

It has often been left to three panel arbitrators to decide the clash between public health, environmental, or human rights interests and the legal obligations states owe to international investors, which had led critics to question the one-sided recourse settlement process set out in bilateral treaties and by the World Bank’s ICSID. 

Moving forward, the speakers discussed the attributes of several proposed systemic changes, yet failed to agree on one solution. The first, and perhaps the most ambitious, is the creation of an external multilateral court designed to create legal precedent and ensure the equality of representation. A second alternative proposes that reforms to the current system, though no less significant, be achieved by a more piecemeal strategy that encourages adopting transparency provisions for arbitration proceedings as well as creating an appellate mechanism. Whether the international arbitration and bilateral treaty system will adopt any of the above changes remains to be seen, but the stimulation of the discussion by organizations such as the Center on International Commercial Arbitration provides a vital foundation for such modification. 

By Laurie Morgan*

On October First, Catalans voted in favor of independence from Spain by a large majority in an unofficial referendum. Those in favor of a Catalan state have cited a right to self-determination as their legal basis to act.

Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Spain is party to, describes this right as held by “all peoples” to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.” United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 further elaborates on this description, and states: “[a]ny attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” This commentary discusses whether the right to self-determination can include a right to independence despite tension with this principle of state sovereignty, and whether either right is legally and practically applicable to Catalonia.

Generally, it is agreed that the Catalans can be considered a people, and therefore subject to the right of self-determination. While there is no codified definition for a people in international law, the Permanent Court of International Justice, and later the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have expressed that the following shared characteristics have importance in determining whether a group should be considered a people: race, religion, language, heritage; and a sense of unity by the identity of these factors. Although Catalans share a dominant race and religion with their Spanish counterparts, Catalans find unity in their own language and a heritage unique from Spanish heritage.
While the right to self-determination encompasses a right to free determination of political status, this does not automatically permit a people to unilaterally establish an independent state.

In its decision on the self-determination of Quebec, the Canadian Supreme Court interpreted a distinction between internal and external self-determination. According to the Canadian Supreme Court, internal self-determination is the norm under international law, while external self-determination, which would allow the potential to assert a right to unilateral secession, is only available for the most extreme of circumstances.

This distinction, of course, begs the question: what are extreme circumstances? The ICJ has shed light on this issue in its Kosovo opinion, which stated “the international law of self-determination developed in such a way as to create a right to independence for the peoples of non-self-governing territories and peoples subject to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation [emphasis added].”
On one hand, Catalonia, like all other Spanish states, has long held a self-governing status with Spain so it may not fall completely under the realm of complete non-self-governance. However, Spain’s invocation of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which permits the national government to “take all measures necessary” in limiting the autonomy of the self-governing states to protect the “general interest of Spain,” has certainly enhanced the quality of the argument of the Catalans seeking independence, who emphasize the difference between their semi-autonomy and the complete autonomy they seek. 

Still, in practice, peoples subject to non-self-governance or alien subjugation have not always been able to utilize a right to self-determination to enforce an alleged right to unilateral independence. Realistically, Catalans seeking freedom from alleged alien subjugation, domination, and exploitation have existing, legal options aside of independence to solve these problems, some of which may be better suited to the interests of independence-oriented Catalans.

For example, victims of the police brutality which occurred on the day of the referendum have sought domestic judicial remedies. If victims of human rights violations by the state of Spain satisfy all domestic judicial remedies, they are entitled to seek justice from the European Court of Human Rights.

Additionally, remaining part of Spain may better suit the interests of Catalans. If economic development is the independence movement’s foremost goal, independence would be disastrous for Catalonia. Both the European Union and the European Free Trade Area require unanimous agreement of existing parties to initiate a new state. It is unlikely that Spain would look favorably upon the entrance of an independent Catalan state into these agreements, especially because it would do nothing to deter other Spanish states from looking to secede.

Other Catalans seek independence for social and cultural reasons notwithstanding the potential economic blow Catalonia would need to take. This faction recognizes that independence would not necessarily solve their perceived social and cultural problems, but believes that a chance at restructuring their governmental system would be worth the substantial economic risk.

Looking forward, relying on the right to self-determination could work for Catalans, but the existence of domestic and international avenues for the resolution of issues of subjugation and exploitation indicate that, in this case, it would be difficult for this right to effectively override the principle of state sovereignty. The recent success of the pro-independence parties in the Catalan parliamentary election indicate that this issue is far from resolved. 

*Laurie Morgan is a first year law student at Georgetown University Law Center.
By James Brown

Photo: Kim Jong-Un using the Internet, Creative Common License

“The Kims like their virgins in this world and not the next,” said Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.  In apparent comparison to the beliefs of certain Islamic Extremists, Bandow made the argument that Kim Jong-un’s brinkmanship stems not from a reckless disregard of potential consequences, but rational self-interest.  At a Cato Institute event titled “How Do You Solve a Problem Like North Korea?”, held on November 6, 2017, most panelists tended to agree. 

What is behind North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons?

The consensus seemed to be that Kim’s dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons is intended not only to secure a seat at the negotiating table, so to speak, but to ensure his own continued existence.  In illustrating this point, several panelists at the Cato event referenced Kim’s cognizance of the fate of Muammar Gaddafi, the late leader of Libya who agreed to nuclear disarmament in 2003 but was ousted from power and summarily executed by rebel troops after a NATO intervention in 2011. 
Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Chair in Political Science at the City College of New York, noted that North Korea’s official statements have justified its nuclear program by pointing to U.S. and NATO actions against both Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein.  Menon thus disagrees with the Trump administration’s current approach to nuclear disarmament, which has included threats of war in the event that peaceable means fail.  “The more that [Un] is threatened with force,” Menon concluded, “the more he will feel justified in pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

Is diplomacy a lost cause?

While most panelists agreed the United States’ past efforts with North Korea have left something to be desired, they also criticized the more aggressive approach of the Trump administration as dangerous or ineffective. 

John Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and former adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, insists that negotiation “is the only thing that has ever worked,” and condemned President Trump’s willingness to engage in brinksmanship of his own, particularly regarding his threat to “totally destroy North Korea.” According to Cirincione, Americans have been “living in a world of counterinsurgency and special operations,” which has skewed their perceptions of what a war with North Korea would entail.  The Congressional Research Service recently estimated that North Korean artillery could kill tens of thousands of people in South Korea in the opening hours of a conflict.  Moreover, the Pentagon found that locating and securing all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons would require a full “ground invasion,” the scale of which would be in stark contrast to the high-tech, surgical operations Americans have grown accustomed to in recent years in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups. 

However, Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and North Korea negotiator, explained that in addition to the Libya intervention in 2011, the United States’ handling of the Iran nuclear deal has eroded its ability to conduct meaningful diplomacy. “Trump’s decertifying of an agreement made just two years ago by an American president,” said Richardson, “undermines our ability to negotiate with North Korea – or anyone else.”  Still, Richardson believes that “people to people” diplomacy is the best course of action, and rejects the notion that “dialogue rewards bad behavior.” The reality, according to Richardson, is that “you gotta talk to bad people.”

By Navy Binning

Photo: Great Prophet VII Maneuvers Iran, Creative Common License

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia charged Iran with an “act of war”.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been engaged in suppressed aggression and hostility for decades. After Yemen rebels known as Houthis overthrew the government in 2015, Saudi forces began an attack against the Houthi forces to restore the internationally recognized government. Yemen has since been caught in the midst of conflict that has killed over ten thousand civilians. Saudi air strikes have been the leading cause of civilian casualties. Iran has openly expressed its support for the Houthi, but it has never claimed to provide resources or to lead the rebel group.

On November 4th, a missile was fired from Yemen towards Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and intercepted over the city’s airport. The Houthi claim the missile attack was retaliation for a Saudi attack that killed twenty-six people. Saudi Arabia and the United States have since accused Iran of providing missiles to Yemen rebels, one of which was used in the attack on Riyadh. Although Saudi Arabia and the United States have previously accused Iran of supporting the Houthis, there has never been direct proof of the allegation.  

Saudi Arabia’s declaration that Iran has engaged in an act of war is a bold one and a particularly foreboding one, following the years of hostility between the two nations. This begs the question —When does an act of aggression amount to an “act of war”?

The US Code defines “act of war” as “any act occurring in the course of (a) declared war; (b) armed conflict, whether or not war has been declared, between two or more nations; or (c) armed conflict between military forces of any origin”.

War can only occur between states. A conflict between a state and a non-state actor, such as a rebel group or terrorist organization, cannot constitute war. The exception is when the non-state actor is sponsored by a state. Saudi Arabia will need to prove that the Houthis were sponsored by Iran in order to properly allege that the missile attack was an act of war by Iran.

The United Nations Charter does not address “act of war”, but it does address the use of force. Article 2(4) requires members to refrain from “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”. The missile attack clearly constitutes a use of force; however, Saudi Arabia must still show that it was a use of force by a member state.

There is no settled definition for “act of war”. The term has evolved to become more political than legal, with many believing that an “act of war” is simply any act that a state uses to justify a declaration of war.
In a statement responding to the attack, Saudi Arabia asserted that “the Kingdom reserves its right to respond to Iran in the appropriate time and manner”. What Saudi Arabia considers to be an appropriate response remains to be seen. 
By Archita Mohapatra*

Paris Protest (34198166574).jpg

US energy polices have been in controversy since the advent of the Trump administration. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered on August 8, 2017, to stay all proceedings in West Virginia v. EPA for another 60 days i.e.until the EPA submits a concrete report on the operation of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). This plan was devised during the Obama administration to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) by power generators. The states were required to meet specific standards in order to fulfil individual reduction targets. The dispute over the implementation of the CPP arose when North Dakota filed an application against the EPA to stay the execution of the plan, which was first rejected by the D.C. Circuit Court. A month later, West Virginia and several other states filed stay applications. This application was accepted and the US Supreme Court granted the stay on the operation of the CPP on February 9, 2016. A year later, the Trump administration issued an Executive Order on March 28, 2017 directing the EPA to review the CPP in order to examine its legality and to repeal or revise the plan executed by the Obama administration. The order characterized the plan, as well as other existing energy laws, as impediments to US energy independence.  The order was provided for review and thus brought the CPP to an operational standstill.  Since the review is ongoing, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the consolidated cases on operation of the CPP be held in abeyance for another 60 days on April 28. Given the announcement of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in June, 2017, the CPP is not expected to be put into operation after the review.

The EPA proposed the CPP in 2014 and it came into effect in October 2015. It was formulated to reduce the CO2 emissions of existing power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, with specific targets to be maintained by respective states. This step was carried out during the Obama administration with the intention of meeting the reduction targets set by the US under the Paris Agreement. However, the Trump administration defunded the CPP in its 2018 federal budget proposal. Moreover, Trump’s opposition to the obligations under the Paris Agreement removed the motivation for the CPP. He received support from various states, which showed had opposed the reduction targets set under the plan. After the order by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on August 8, all litigation proceedings have been put on hold until the EPA decides to either repeal or revise the CPP. The report by the EPA would also help decide the matters relating to the operation of the CPP, put forth by different states.

After the US’s announcement of withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, various cities, states and corporate groups have taken up the responsibility to maintain their individual targets towards implementing the Agreement. The Agreement allows only nations or regional economic integrations to be parties. However, the UNFCCC has provisions to also involve non-party stakeholders, viz. states, residents, corporate bodies, etc. called the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (“NAZCA”) Portal. It is a platform for reflecting climate-related commitments by non-state actors which are exercised by the states, cities and business organizations of the United States.  Around 12 states, as well as Puerto Rico, have come together to form a United States Climate Alliance, a separate entity to uphold the commitments of the US made under the Paris Agreement. Reportedly, two Republican governors, namely Charlie Baker and Phil Scott have decided to support Democrats in forming the alliance for combating climate change. In addition, several mayors have also defied the Trump’s administration’s decisionwithdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The United States Conference of Mayors strongly opposed the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and vowed to continue with their efforts to fulfil the reduction targets. Adding to this, around 98 mayors have pledged their support for a community wide transition to 100% renewable energy under Sierra Club’s “Mayors for 100% Clean Energy.”

On June 6, Hawaii passed a law to remain committed towards the Paris Agreement. The State Senate of California passed a bill towards the end of May to receive all its energy from renewable and zero-carbon sources by 2045. Governor Andrew Cuomo has initiated an energy strategy for New York called Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). It aims to achieve a 40% reduction in Green House Gases from 1990 levels, mandates that 50% of electricity generated must come from renewable sources, and a reduction of energy consumption by buildings by 23% from 2012 levels. Individuals have also stepped up to address this issue as former New York mayor and UN envoy for Climate Change Michael Bloomberg has pledged to contribute USD 15 million towards any gap that is created after the withdrawal of the US. 

Currently, the Trump administration is designing a replacement plan for the CPP. One of the industry groups, Coalition for Innovative Climate Solutions, has proposed a replacement plan for the CPP which gives greater flexibility to states to choose their own compliance plans. However, it has not been accepted by other countries since they are relying upon the US Government to frame a replacement plan. With this replacement plan in process, the CPP might be gone for good. But, in this author’s opinion, the non-party stakeholders could fulfill the objectives of the Paris Agreement, irrespective of any legal obligations as required under CPP.

*Archita Mohapatra is a law student pursuing a B.B.A.LL.B at National Law University Odisha.