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A better climate through lawsuits

While the world’s attention has been focused on the Coronavirus pandemic and, recently, Russia’s murderous invasion of Ukraine, something important is happening in the fight for climate change accountability: climate lawsuits are advancing through legal systems here and around the world.

Lawsuits against the fossil fuel companies for ignoring climate damage aren’t new. But in past years most didn’t advance far through the legal systems. This is changing.

In the past six years alone more than 1,400 climate lawsuits have hit the courts. Many of these are advancing as climate damages worsen and become measurable, and as evidence of corporate malfeasance mounts. Plus, current actions by lawmakers and policy-makers have, in my opinion, proven inadequate to meet calls for justice and accountability.

Starting with the #Exxonknew investigation of 2015, the fossil fuel industry can no longer pretend they don’t know the damages their products cause. The potential liability extends to ad agencies that promote fossil fuel lies, to the banks that finance the fossil fuel industry, and to governments that don’t take action.

Even individuals are a growing target as shown by recent legal action against Shell board members at how they failed to disclose and respond to climate risks. In another case Honolulu’s effort to hold oil company executives accountable for climate change damage is advancing.

Few cases have succeeded so far but more and more will. The fossil fuel industry has had its way for over a century, but I believe the tables are turning. Let’s hope it’s in time.

BOB POTTER

Boalsburg

Submitted by Virtual Newsroom

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