Global warming likely to spur litigation against polluters
As global warming’s effects reverberate across the planet, expect an uptick in litigation against governments and companies. Pacific Islanders whose homes are being swallowed by the ocean, African farmers with withered crops, and ski-resort owners resigned to offering mountaintop waterskiing may seek redress. “If the evidence [of anthropogenic warming] hardens up … it has all the ingredients of the tobacco case,” said Myles Allen of Oxford University. It won’t be easy to prove that a specific company or country is liable for making global warming worse — but that doesn’t mean enterprising lawyers won’t try. “There have been no large awards of damages, but there are an increasing number of cases,” says Roda Verhaugen of the group Climate Justice, which advises plaintiffs in climate cases. Most global-warming-related litigation thus far has been directed at the greenhouse gassiest of them all, the U.S., which produces a quarter of the world’s emissions.