Lawyer identifies 3 main types of climate change lawsuits & risks for companies

Author: Stephanie Morton, ClientEarth, on China Dialogue, Published on: 14 December 2018

"How 'attribution science' is shifting the legal landscape", 12 Dec 2018

Lawyer Stephanie Mortonexplains three types of climate lawsuit that are threatening the future of fossil fuels...

Litigation will fall into three main categories: i) failure to mitigate climate change, ii) failure to adapt to climate change, and iii) failure to comply with legislation or regulation around disclosing and reporting on climate change...

Failure to mitigate climate change includes claims for losses resulting from a public or private entity’s contribution to climate change, often through greenhouse gas emissions.

For example, Dutch citizens were recently successful in bringing a case against their government...In another a case, a Peruvian farmer is bringing a claim against Germany’s largest electricity producer, RWE...

Failure to adapt to climate change includes cases where it is alleged that an entity or individual has failed to take climate change risks into account in their decision-making...

For instance, the Boston based Conservation Law Foundation filed a suit against ExxonMobil in 2016 with regard to its Everett Terminal in Massachusetts. The Foundation alleges that ExxonMobil was aware that a significant rise in sea level would put the terminal at risk but took no action to protect the public or the environment...

...[A] failure to adequately disclose the risks from climate change poses a legal threat for companies...New York’s attorney general recently sued ExxonMobil for misleading shareholders on the manner in which the company accounts for the effects of climate change. It is alleged that the company is more exposed to climate risk regulation than investors were led to believe...

 

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Related companies: ExxonMobil RWE