Erika Rosenthal's Blog Posts

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Erika Rosenthal's blog

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.


unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

Learn more about Earthjustice.

Erika Rosenthal is a Staff Attorney in Earthjustice's International office. Her work focuses on climate change, at international negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as with the U.N. Environment program and with regional bodies like the Arctic Council to reduce emissions of other global warming air pollutants, such as black carbon and ozone. Erika handles it all with a sly sense of humor and quick wit. When she's not traveling on behalf of Earthjustice, she can be found with family and friends (two- and four-legged) in Rock Creek Park and other beautiful places in the D.C. area.

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16 December 2009, 3:27 PM
Two years' effort comes down to two words: "shall" or "should"

(Earthjustice attorney Erika Rosenthal is blogging from the Copenhagen climate conference)

4 a.m… Bella Center…December 15

I'm in a huge plenary room, waiting for the final session of the "Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention" to reconvene. (The AWG-LCA is responsible for one of the two negotiating tracks negotiations that are going on here to accommodate the fact that the US has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.)

The hall has been in a state of suspended animation since midnight.

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11 December 2009, 4:57 PM
Nightmare of drought and drowning is no dream scenario

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Erika).

The Copenhagen talks opened with nightmare images of catastrophic climate crisis. The first session included an apocalyptic video in which a Danish girl dreams a parade of climate horrors—first she's walking through endless drought-stricken land, then she's clinging for dear life as the sea rises around her.

New research indicates that both these nightmare scenarios could come to pass far sooner than scientists dreamt even a few years ago.

Global warming is accelerating snow and ice melt around the world. When Arctic glaciers like the Greenland Ice Sheet melt it shrinks the planet's cooling ice cap and sea causing sea level to rise. When high mountain glaciers melt, like the massive "third pole" in the Himalayas, it threatens drought for more than a quarter of the world's population.

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09 December 2009, 9:54 AM
Both pledge major emission cuts—demonstrating principle of fairness

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Erika Rosenthal and Martin Wagner are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate conference. Here is today's post by Erika.)

In the opening days of the Copenhagen climate negotiations, France and South Africa are looking like rock stars for the commitments they've made to reduce carbon emissions.

France announced that it would reduce its carbon emissions 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. And South Africa said it would cut the growth of its carbon emissions by 34 percent (below expected levels) by 2020 and 42 percent by 2025—if it gets aid from developed countries.

Why does leadership for South Africa only commit to reduce its growth in emissions when France's leadership actually results in a reduction in emissions? The answer lies in principle of fairness across nations and generations which is the cornerstone of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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15 December 2008, 10:33 AM
Negotiation blueprint achieved

A miracle, just take a look around: this inescapable earth.
– Wislawa Szymborska, Polish poet and Nobel Laureate

Yes, we can.

As Martin wrote earlier in the week, the negotiations that just concluded in Poznan fell short of expectations. But take heart – the talks did deliver on the fundamental objective of providing a negotiation blueprint for an agreement that can be signed next year in Copenhagen.

There was no movement though on the issues at the heart of the new agreement – how much industrialized countries will cut their emissions; what they expect in return from major emerging economies like China and India; and how much finance and technology transfer for low-carbon initiatives will be provided to developing countries.

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13 December 2008, 6:23 PM

The world is now meeting in Poland to tackle global warming - and Earthjustice is there. Read our daily dispatches.

The Federated States of Micronesia, one of the leading voices of the Alliance of Small Island States – countries whose very existence are threatened by global warming-induced sea level rise – has called on the governments assembled in Poznan to take urgent action in light of potential catastrophic tipping points in the Earth's climate system.

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08 December 2008, 10:18 AM

The world is now meeting in Poland to tackle global warming - and Earthjustice is there. Read our daily dispatches.

Saturday was Forest Day at the climate negotiations in Poznan. Many people think of forests in terms of the CO2 that they absorb, or "sequester"– the rainforests of the Amazon, Congo and Indonesia are known as the lungs of the planet. But every year an area of forest the size of Greece is cut down or burned releasing enormous amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere – a tragedy for indigenous forest-dwelling communities, biodiversity and the planet. Take a moment to think of the scale of the crisis: satellite images show that an area roughly the size of Connecticut was deforested in Brazil alone in the 12 months through July, 2008.

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05 December 2008, 10:23 AM

The world is now meeting in Poland to tackle global warming - and Earthjustice is there. Read our daily dispatches.

More than 10,000 people have gathered in Pozna?, Poland this week for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, to advance negotiations that aim to set the world on a path toward a lower carbon future and minimize global warming and its effects on people and the planet. This conference is the critical mid-point between the break-through decision last December to adopt the "Bali Road Map" for an international agreement on climate change, and the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen next December when the governments are scheduled to seal a deal to address the climate crisis.