June 01, 2013

Dictionary of Environmental and Climate Change Law

JoAnne L. Dunec

Nicholas A. Robinson, Wang Xi, Lin Harmon, and Sarah Wegmueller, eds., Dictionary of Environmental and Climate Change Law, Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc., 2013.

The Earth is one but the world is not.Our Common Future (also known as the “Bruntdland Report”)

The Dictionary of Environmental and Climate Change Law is the result of a collaborative effort to create a dictionary of international terms in English and Mandarin Chinese with “the Pinyin anglicized variant of the term.” (Pinyin is a phonetic system for transliterating Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet.) Need for the dictionary became apparent, as noted in the Introduction:.

As lawyers from China and the United States engage in trade negotiations, as their diplomats explore cooperation within rapidly evolving environmental treaty systems, or as administrators seek to implement environmental legal responsibilities, the need emerges for a common understanding of the meanings used for the same terms.

The authors elaborate with the following examples,

Chinese concepts, such as “circular economy,” is not immediately perceived by Americans, and American legal terms, such as a “large concentrated animal feeding operation” (CAFO), need to be explained to Chinese speakers. In light of the complexities of environmental law, there are times when both Chinese and US legal personnel may not understand fundamental technological terms employed in specialized environmental regimes, such as “catalytic converters.” Such technical terms arise in trade for products such as automobiles or in controls of atmospheric pollution.

“Circular economy, and waste disposal laws” are described in the dictionary as “Chinese laws providing that all materials and energy in production cycles are valuable and shall be used and reused, or recycled, and not allowed to become waste; any residue shall be stored safely and conserved for future recycling.”

The Dictionary of Environmental and Climate Change Law includes not only a wide array of environmental terms, such as “hazardous substance,” “pollutants,” and “best management practices,” but also biological, natural resource, and climate change terms, as well as real estate and land use terms such as “easement,” “setback,” “subdivision,” and “zoning.” Certain cases, treaties, and incidents are also included as defined terms.

JoAnne L. Dunec