WCL Professor, Alumnae Receive U.S. EPA Awards for Contributions to Climate and Ozone Protection

Professor Durwood Zaelke, and Alumnae Romina Picolotti, Ana Maria Kleymeyer Honored

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently honored American University Washington College of Law (WCL) alumnae Romina Picolotti (LLM 1999), Argentina's Minister of Environment; Ana Maria Kleymeyer (JD 2002), who heads the international section within Minister Picolotti's administration; and Professor Durwood Zaelke, founder of the WCL Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law, for their outstanding contributions to the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer and the global climate system. The EPA's Climate Protection and Ozone Layer Protection Awards were presented Monday, May 19 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Picolotti, Kleymeyer, and Zaelke were key players in the effort to turn the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer into an explicit climate protection treaty. They helped convince the treaty's 191 Parties to agree to accelerate the phase-out of the ozone-and-climate-system-damaging hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and to do so in a way that supports climate protection. The adjustment entered into force last week. Hailed as a historic decision by the United Nations Environment Program, it will reduce climate emissions by 16 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent through 2040, according to EPA. This is equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity use of more than 70 million U.S. households during the next 30 years.

"Thanks to the hard work of this talented team of government officials and non-governmental groups being honored by the US EPA's Climate and Ozone Awards, Montreal Protocol Parties were able to reach agreement to speed up the phase out of HCFCs," said James L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "This historic agreement not only helps the recovery of the ozone layer, it also represents one of the single largest steps both the developed and developing countries have taken together to undertake binding international commitments to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The EPA awards highlight Picolotti's, Kleymeyer's and Zaelke's hard work and dedication to achieving consensus regarding the accelerated phase out of HCFCs among the 191 treaty Parties. Picolotti was an early leader of the effort, seizing the opportunity to take quick action to protect the climate. "Argentina is very proud to have been a driving force in persuading Parties to the Montreal Protocol to protect the climate with an accelerated phase-out of greenhouse gases," Picolotti said. "This was a diplomatic coup—planned and executed by an incredibly dedicated team of government, industry, and public interest professionals. We are re-energized by winning these wonderful awards and we are committed to doing still more in the future."

Zaelke, who teaches International Environmental Law and serves as president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD), provided policy and legal support to key Parties to raise awareness about the significant climate benefits of accelerating the phase-out of HCFCs and building support for the adjustment.

The international team dedicated to the accelerated HCFC phase-out included numerous other WCL alumni including:

  • Rachel Biderman of Brazil (LLM 1992)
  • Mohammed Rida Derder of Morocco (LLM 2001)
  • Gustavo Alanis of Mexico (LLM 1990)
  • Axel Bree of Germany (LLM 1998)
  • Nathan Borgford-Parnell of Mongolia (JD 2008)
  • Nuno Lacasta of Portugal (LLM 1996)
  • Nawzat Ali of Jordan (LLM 1997)
  • Solen Maheo of France (LLM 1997)
  • Xiaolin Li of China (LLM 2007)
  • Robert Kirunda of Uganda (exchange student 2007)
  • Carolina Mauri of Costa Rica (LLM 1996)
  • Melanie Nakagawa of the United States (JD 2005)
  • Kelly Rain of the United States (JD 2007)

WCL Professor Perry Wallace also participated, representing the Federated States of Micronesia in early negotiations.

Picolotti, Kleymeyer and Zaelke are continuing their focus on maximizing the climate mitigation potential of the ozone treaty with a further change this year to strengthen the treaty and address the destruction of CFCs and HCFCs in old air conditioners and other equipment. Picolotti and Kleymeyer, recognizing the importance of utilizing the Montreal Protocol to reap near-term climate benefits, submitted a proposal from Argentina last week to address the issue of old equipment emissions at the next Montreal Protocol meeting in November.

For more information on WCL's environmental law program visit: http://www.wcl.american.edu/environment/