Sunday, October 16, 2011

Still many hurdles on the way to climate change litigation in the U.S.

Legal hurdles for climate change litigation
(Image by lillysmum
A full list of issues to be overcome on the way to climate change litigation in the U.S. is to be found in a short article of Michael B. Gerrard, Director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School:

The first section has to do with the defendants of climate change litigation cases such as jurisdiction. Because though the United states produces a lot of GHGs the United States only produces approximately 18 % of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide if the verdict was only implemented in the U.S. then it would only stop at most 18 % of GHGs. Or issues of Supply Chains, where again if you did stop companies in the U.S. from producing emissions, if those companies imported the goods instead of producing them in the U.S. then production, and therefore the emission of GHGs may only move the area where GHGs are not forbidden or limited by law (such as in China), and therefore no legal threat of legal action exists, and there does not reduce the aggregate world emissions.

The next section discusses other issues such as how to measure damage claims. In a money damage case, how much of the damage can be directly attributed to the emissions from a company. Furthermore the author points out that the burden of proof of causation must be taken into account. Nearly all scientists agree global warming is real, and that GHG emissions are causing global warming but one must also prove that a particular storm or flood is indeed caused by climate change. Another hurdle that is mentioned, is the diversity of damages that can befall victims of climate change may result in difficulties for grouping the damages into class action law suits.

The article has also been published by the New York Law Journal. Thought this publication focuses on the U.S., many of the items listed in the article are likely to be relevant in other jurisdictions as well.

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