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Climate Reparations: Companies to be liable for emissions ‘harm’ ‘going back to the 1800s’

Speaking at the American Constitution Society, leading climate change trial lawyer Matthew Pawa says that heat waves, melting snow pack, and loss of glaciers is harming human health and that people and states will want compensation. Pawa states that thanks to new peer reviewed literature, climate change litigators can now “demonstrate how much of the carbon dioxide and methane from the combustion of fossil fuels in the atmosphere is attributable” to any particular fossil fuel company “going back to the 1800’s.”

Matthew Pawa is on the Board of Trustees of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).

MATTHEW PAWA: “Global warming litigation is coming to a court room near you. […] Damages and injuries are piling up — heat waves, melting snow pack, loss of glaciers. These are things with severe economic consequences and harms to human health and well being, and people will want compensation, and states of various sorts will want compensation for the harms. We also have the benefit of the peer reviewed published article by Richard Heede, H-E-E-D-E, who has demonstrated how much of the carbon dioxide and methane from the combustion of fossil fuels in the atmosphere is attributable to Exxon, and Chevron, and other particular companies going back to the 1800’s. And, so there is an ability to attribute portions of harm to specific companies now based on peer reviewed literature. […]

And, you can’t do to the planet what these companies have done and what Exxon in particular as the ringleader has done. With the kind of foreknowledge they had and think you’re going to get away with it in America, cause it ain’t gonna happen. […] Tort cases are out there waiting in the wings and, you know, every time there is, you know, a heat wave that kills people or every time, you know, a state is running out of water the question comes to the fork, and it’s really only a matter of time before those cases are filed.”

Combating Climate Change in the Courts
American Constitution Society
February 10, 2016