Two Examples of Litigation to Combat Climate Change

Two Examples of Litigation to Combat Climate Change


 

Corporate governance

In America, many have known for a long time that one of the only ways to accomplish change is through the court system. This is especially fresh in people’s minds as the Martin Luther King holiday make Civil Rights a national topic of conversation. A new issue which many see as just as important as the civil rights is global climate change. Now, two cases that represent many plaintiffs, called class actions, have been filed that relate to global climate change and what many views as the government’s inaction about this issue. They have joined together in these class actions to stop the government promoting the development and use of fossil fuels and instead to take appropriate action.

Background

Often confusingly labeled global warming because of the warming trend that is causing changes in the Earth’s climate. Sea levels are rising due to the melting of polar ice, and that alters weather patterns, as well as putting real estate on the shoreline at risk. The controversy comes from the fact that most scientists say that this warming trend is man-made. The use of fossil fuels has created a greenhouse effect in the ozone layer, causing the sea temperature to rise quickly.

The Cases

  • 2015 Federal Lawsuit: the first of these cases was filed on behalf of 21 young people and one climate scientist who has labeled himself the guardian of future generations. This first example of such complex civil litigation alleges that the government is engaged in a pursuit of fossil fuels that infringes upon their rights to life, liberty and property. Their claim is supported by both outside testimony and that of the scientist, one of the top minds in climate science, who allege that rising sea levels are directly attributed to climate change and that some of the plaintiffs Home will soon be literally underwater.
  • Farmers Insurance Corporation: In what is actually nine class actions, the well-known insurance company alleges that local governments in the Chicago area are not preparing appropriately for the results of climate change. This led last April to damages to homes in an anomalous two-day downpour that could have been prevented if the government had prepared the sewers and drains for such events. This more commercial litigation has a more pragmatic aspect, to prevent paying out too much money to clients, but in our society it may have more ability to affect policy.

The benefits of litigating in these two examples our national attention and financial remuneration. Both of these results have the potential to change government policy and popular opinion. If they achieve this potential they might change the future of the world.

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