Recently the media have been full of stories about climate litigation. In the last few weeks alone, we have seen reports of a claim brought in Guyana by an indigenous tourist guide and a university lecturer claiming that (to quote the Guardian report):
“Guyana’s approval of oil exploration licences violates the government’s legal duty to protect their right and the right of future generations to a healthy environment. It is the first constitutional climate case in the Caribbean to challenge fossil fuel production on climate and human rights grounds.”
Also a class action in Australia, brought by eight High School students, where the Court found that the Australian federal environment minister has a duty to take reasonable care not to cause young people injury from the harms of climate change (at least, that’s how the Guardian reported it).
And of course a Dutch court recently ordered Shell to cut carbon emissions from its oil and gas by 45% by 2030.
More recently still, we have learned that climate activists have sued the Italian government over “inaction”. The 203 claimants apparently include environmental associations, Italian citizens (well, one would hope so), foreign residents, and young activists with the Italy wing of the Fridays for Future group.
These are just some of the more recent cases to come to trial and/or to be given prominence by that large section of the mainstream media which approves of this sort of thing. This is just the tip of the iceberg. So I thought I’d look into the issue a little further. But – where to start?
Thank goodness for the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia University, the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science (and you won’t hear me say that very often). The reason for my gratitude is that they have been monitoring the situation closely, and thanks to them, much of the information regarding climate litigation trends is readily available.
Strictly speaking, I’m referring to the major law firm of Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer, whose website contains an excellent interactive section, which can be scrolled through to see the trends. It is based on the information provided by the monitoring groups mentioned above (accurate to December 2019). From this we learn:
There had, to that date, been almost 1,400 climate-related litigation cases around the world;
The number rose dramatically over the 15 years to 2019;
Most are brought in the west, with a handful in emerging markets;
Almost 1,100 (or 79%) of those cases were brought in the USA…
…where the four years to 2019 saw the largest number of cases opened since records began;
Globally, 135 cases (10%) were directed at businesses, mostly in the USA and Australia;
Such litigation (against businesses) had increased since 2016;
Most (79) of the 135 cases against businesses involved defendants from the energy and natural resources industry, and most of those were in the USA;
More cases were, by 2019, starting to emerge in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The interactive nature of the website makes it a fascinating tool. Click on a dot (representing a case) and it offers a brief summary of that particular piece of litigation. The first one I clicked on at random was a piece of Polish litigation alleging that Polska Grupa Energetyczna, the operator of Europe’s largest power plant, Belchatow, has not presented any official plan to reduce its climate impacts. The lawsuit seeks to block the plant operators from burning lignite – or require measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions – by 2035.
Right next to it, the adjacent dot happened to be the Dutch case against Shell. Next again, a case in Luxembourg against the Luxembourgish Minister of Social Security, who, Greenpeace claims, failed to respond to a letter asking for information regarding how Luxembourg’s sovereign pension fund planned to align its investments with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and information on the climate-related financial risks associated with the fund’s investments.
And so on – endlessly fascinating if you’re into that sort of thing.
A new development has been that of activists buying shares in fossil fuel companies, mostly it seems with the idea of becoming active at shareholder meetings, and persuading management to change direction, and/or to impose activist directors on the board. There is another possibility, though, arising from this activity – the possibility of shareholder litigation against the company itself.
And as the Freshfields website points out, this is where the Law of Unintended Consequences might have a role to play. Fossil fuel companies that prioritise investments in emissions-reducing technologies over immediate profits run the risk of shareholder suits from short-term investors. They are in the potentially impossible position of facing the twin risk of being sued, including via class action litigation, whatever they do. They are, potentially, damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
“Plaintiffs bringing common law tort and public nuisance claims are now seeking to rely on academic studies that attempt to quantify individual actors’ contribution to man-made emissions since the start of the industrial era. Researchers are developing models in a bid to tie climate change to extreme weather at a local level – and to predict where those events might strike next. The Federal Judge hearing a case in San Francisco was so intrigued by developments in causation and attribution science that he staged a day-long ‘teach-in’ to prepare for legal arguments. While he ultimately ruled his Court was not the right forum for such a case (and stated in his judgment that the current slew of nuisance suits could harm attempts to reach international consensus on climate change), it brought these developing theses into the spotlight.”
In the USA, for now at least, however, the Supreme Court decision of AEP v Connecticut, the first global warming case based on a public nuisance claim, which was brought to court in the Southern District of New York in 2004, offers some protection to fossil fuel companies from litigation. The unanimous ruling of the Court states that the management of emissions is the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency, not corporations. As we are seeing increasingly, however, this same principle does not necessarily seem to apply in other jurisdictions.
There are many excellent websites which can be used to find out more about the world of climate litigation. One organisation (Germanwatch) which I believe is funding the case in question, has a timeline for a potentially very interesting (and, for fossil fuel companies, worrying) case: Lliuya -v- RWE.
In November 2015, Mr Lliuya, a Peruvian farmer and mountain guide brought a case in the German Courts against the German company, RWE. His claim is that the energy company’s greenhouse gas emissions threaten his family, his property, and a large part of the city of Huaraz. RWE’s defence disputed its liability for alleged climate-change damage in the Andes, and further denied that Huaraz is at risk from flooding. The Essen District Court dismissed the case, but the Appeal Court has allowed it to go forward. Experts have been appointed, but further developments appear to have been delayed by the covid crisis.
Should liability in this case ultimately be found against RWE, the precedent could be very damaging indeed for fossil fuel companies. This is an area where Europe seems to be much more hostile to fossil fuel companies than has been the case in the USA to date (despite the significantly greater number of cases so far brought in the USA). Whether the US situation changes should the balance on the Supreme Court change during the Biden presidency remains to be seen.
There are just too many cases to mention in detail here, but for anyone interested, in addition to the Freshfields website, much useful information can be found here:
As mentioned above, Freshfields’ excellent interactive website takes matters only up to the end of 2019. Fortunately, the LSE and Grantham Institute have produced a snapshot of global trends in climate litigation, by way of an update, to July 2020 (unfortunately there has been almost a year of considerable activity since then):
This is a 30 page report, and it’s well worth reading. The trends identified above continue. The countries (or jurisdictions) where litigation has taken place between 1986 and 2020 are worth noting, by case number (the main ones only):
USA – 1,213;
Australia – 98;
UK – 62;
EU – 57;
Canada – 22;
New Zealand – 18;
Spain – 13;
France – 11;
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – 10;
Brazil, Germany, OECD – 6 each.
Some interesting general observations emerge.
More than 80% of cases outside the USA have been brought against governments.
Climate change is at the centre of legal arguments in about 41% of cases, and peripheral in about 59%.
Outside of the USA, 58% of cases had outcomes “favourable to climate change action”.
Developing trends include using human rights arguments as support in increasing numbers of cases; and fossil fuel companies are being subjected to increasing numbers of different types of litigation, especially in the USA, ranging from nuisance, to fraud, to disclosure-related claims.
2019 saw an escalation in claims; there were doubts as to what effect the covid crisis might have on case numbers, but it does seem that case numbers are recovering nicely.
Going against the flow
But it’s not all one-way traffic (even if the vehicles going the other way are very much going against the flow):
Two German companies – RWE (fighting back, it seems – their lawyers must be busy!) and Uniper (although I believe the latter is majority Finnish-owned) – are suing the Dutch government for compensation over the country’s planned coal phase-out under a 1990s the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). RWE is seeking 1.4 billion euros in compensation, and Uniper is claiming between 850 million and one billion euros, in each case because the Dutch Government is phasing out coal use by 2030, thus (so the claim goes) causing the demise of their coal-fired plants in the Netherlands.
As I understand it, the ECT contains provisions against appropriation of foreign-owned assets by Governments. The argument against the Dutch government is that the change in Dutch policy with regard to coal use greatly damages the value of the plants, and amounts to expropriation.
I suppose what is good for the goose is good for the gander, but this sort of claim is very much the exception to the rule. Search for it online, and the level of hostile commentary is significant.
The great unanswered question
Try as I might, I have been able to find no answer (other than in the Lliuya case) to the obvious question – who is funding all this climate change litigation? Articles on the websites of the BBC, Guardian and others, reporting on the litigation, never seem to go near that question. I doubt that the Australian High School kids are paying for their action against the federal government, so who is? Whoever it is, substantial amounts of money must be being spent in this rapidly-developing and rapidly-intensifying area.
It is probably not unusual for religious zealots to have disdain for democratic processes when imposing the focus of their religious zealotry.
Hmm, dead trees for binders full of documents, climate-controlled courtrooms, gas-guzzling limos to and from, and computers running 24/7.
Sounds climate-conscious to me.
At times like these I usually fall back on my idea that in the West we have such comfortable lives that we have no concept of any alternative situation. We have taken cheap, reliable electricity for granted for a long time. Our freedom has only risen year on year, at least until the pandemic threw what may be a temporary spanner in the works.
As we saw with the recently-resurfaced North Face story, folk have little conception of how embedded in our lives fossil fuels are. Perhaps they are persuaded by lies such as “100% renewable” electricity tariffs: after all, if one person can choose such a tariff, can’t we all? The protesters are unaware that most of their clothes are made of petrochemicals. As soon as international travel was allowed, folk flocked to Portugal: seems like a holiday, and not Net Zero, is actually the “People’s Priority.”
Who benefits? Not the turkeys suing for Christmas. Private oil companies will benefit from immunity to boardroom shenanigans: turning a greater share of mining and extraction away from the more responsible companies. Muscular, totalitarian governments will benefit as insipid democracies wither. The climate children bringing their cases will find themselves worse off if they succeed. And all around them in the climate, nothing will have changed.
When the histories of these times are written, I hope that it will be recorded that a few small voices spoke up against the madness.
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Hard on the heels of one of the most prominent pieces of climate litigation recently:
“Shell promises to accelerate shift to low carbon”
“The oil giant Shell will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions more quickly than planned following a legal ruling in the Netherlands, its chief executive has promised in a blog post.
Shell would take “bold but measured steps”, Ben van Beurden wrote, but would still appeal against the ruling.
Environmentalists won a court case in May, arguing Shell was failing to reduce emissions quickly enough.
Friends of the Earth said if Shell were serious, it would drop the appeal.
Mr van Beurden’s post on networking site LinkedIn acknowledged that the firm would have to respond to the court’s ruling without waiting for the outcome of the appeal, and that it applied to the energy giant’s worldwide business.
However, he sought to reassure investors that it would not disrupt Shell’s plans.
“For Shell, this ruling does not mean a change, but rather an acceleration of our strategy,” he wrote.
The campaign group Milieudefensie, the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth, which brought the case, successfully argued that Shell had a human rights obligation to bring its business into line with international agreements on avoiding faster heating of the planet.
As a result, Shell must cut its CO2 emissions by 45% compared with 2019 levels, by 2030….”
Here’s the next one – they seem to be coming thick and fast:
“Polish government faces court action over failure to tackle climate crisis
Five citizens accuse government of failing to protect them from impacts of global heating”
“Five Polish citizens are taking their government to court over its failure to protect them from the impacts of the climate crisis.
They say the state has breached their rights to life, health and family life by delaying action to cut national carbon emissions and propping up the coal industry.
The first three cases were filed on Thursday in regional courts across Poland by Monika Stasiak, Małgorzata Górska and Piotr Nowakowski.
Nowakowski, who lives in a forest in Wielkopolska, is worried that stronger storms and forest fires are increasingly threatening his home and safety.
Stasiak and Górska both run tourism businesses in different parts of Poland that have been affected by changing rainfall patterns in very different ways: one has suffered from intensive drought and the other flash flooding.
Stasiak told the Guardian the birth of her son had also motivated her to fight for climate action. “When my child was about 18 months old the  IPCC report came out. It moved me and I decided I didn’t want that future for my child.”
Two further cases will be filed later in the month by Piotr Romanowski, a farmer who has lost half his revenue after the land became too dry for his plants to survive, and 18-year-old climate activist Maya Ozbayoglu.
The claimants are being represented by the international environmental law charity ClientEarth and the Polish law firm Gessel. It will be the first time national climate policy has been directly challenged in a Polish court.”
This rather links in with “Big Green Charity”, given the involvement of “environmental law charity ClientEarth”.
There is a real danger that we will reach the point (if we haven’t already) where Governments provide funding to climate charities, which then go and sue the Governments that help to fund them. I’m not sure that the average taxpayer would think that’s a good idea.
“Southampton Airport: Legal challenge over runway extension”
“Opponents of a scheme to extend an airport runway are mounting a legal challenge.
Eastleigh Borough Council issued formal planning permission on 3 June for Southampton Airport to lengthen its runway by 164m (538ft).
But campaigners Airport Expansion Opposition (AXO) have called the decision “wrong both in the way it was taken and the arguments to justify it”.”
If it’s cold, Texas hasn’t enough electricity for its needs, and now it seems the same is true when it’s hot.:
“Sweltering Texans urged to reduce cooking and cleaning to ease grid strain
Officials advise to avoid using large appliances such as ovens and washing machines, amid soaring summer temperatures”
“As temperatures rise to unseasonably warm levels across Texas this week, its citizens are being asked to use less energy on basics like cooking and washing clothes to ease strain on the state’s power grid that is struggling to generate enough electricity to cope with the high temperatures.
The move triggers memories for many Texans of the cold snap in the winter that incapacitated much of the state’s power infrastructure and raises fears that Texas – and other US states – are not prepared to deal with the extreme weather events that come with the global climate crisis.
The authority running the Texas power grid has asked Texans to set thermostats to 78F (25.5C) or higher, turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances such as ovens, washing machines and dryers.
This is the second time that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot) has issued such a call for conservation since the winter storms in February left more than 4.8m homes and businesses without electricity for days. The crisis was blamed for more than 100 deaths and $130bn in costs.
In addition to plant outages, demand is high this week as cities across Texas expect temperatures in the 90s. The state broke its June electricity demand record on Monday.
Summer hasn’t even officially begun, and the early calls for conservation raise questions over what will happen in the coming months and years as the global temperature continues to rise.
“We’re heading into a future climate that is likely to have more extreme droughts and more powerful hurricanes, which put their own strain on the system,” said Dan Cohan, a civil engineering professor at Rice University. “This week we saw that the Texas power grid barely even prepared for weather that is hot for June, but nowhere near how hot it can get in July and August.”
Cohan says that Ercot has not been transparent about which coal and gas plants are down and helping cause the strain on the grid, and why – it could be for maintenance, or repairs from February’s knockout blows, or preparing for potential summer demand.
“Ercot has really been leaving us in the dark as to which coal and gas power plants are down, and why,” he said. “They offered a belated acknowledgment that there are more than twice as many power plants down as they expected but no real clarity on why it’s happening. A lot of us are left guessing.”
The grid is only prepared to handle one crisis at a time, but often issues overlap – for example, when it’s very hot, often winds don’t blow as they typically would, or a spike in demand while power plants are offline.”
Just had to be the fault of fossil fuels, not renewables, didn’t it?
“Belgium’s climate failures violate human rights, court rules
Judges say state’s failure to meet climate targets breaches civil law and human rights convention”
“Belgium’s failure to meet climate targets is a violation of human rights, a Brussels court has ruled, in the latest legal victory against public authorities that have broken promises to tackle the climate emergency.
The Brussels court of first instance declared the Belgian state had committed an offence under Belgian’s civil law and breached the European convention on human rights.
By not taking all “necessary measures” to prevent the “detrimental” effects of climate change, the court said, Belgian authorities had breached the right to life (article 2) and the right to respect for private and family life (article 8).
The NGO that brought the case, Klimaatzaak, hailed the judgment as historic, both in the nature of the decision and the court’s recognition of 58,000 citizens as co-plaintiffs.
“For the first time it is recognised that we are in direct, personal and real danger,” said Serge de Gheldere, the chairman of Klimaatzaak, which means climate case in Dutch.”
“Climate change: Courts set for rise in compensation cases”
“There’s likely to be a significant increase in the number of lawsuits brought against fossil fuel companies in the coming years, say researchers.
Their new study finds that to date, lawyers have failed to use the most up-to-date scientific evidence on the cause of rising temperatures.
As a result, there have been few successful claims for compensation.
That could change, say the authors, as evidence linking specific weather events to carbon emissions increases….
…However, there have been few successes in cases where the plaintiffs have sought compensation for damages caused by climate change linked to human activity.
This new study has assessed some 73 lawsuits across 14 jurisdictions and says that the evidence presented to the courts lagged significantly behind the most recent climate research.
Over the past two decades, scientists have attempted to demonstrate the links between extreme weather events and climate change, which are in turn connected to human activities such as energy production and transport.
These studies, called attribution science, have become more robust over the years.
For example, researchers have been able to show that climate change linked to human activities made the European summer heatwave in 2019 both more likely and more intense….”
The study, should anybody be interested, can be found here:
“UK road-building scheme breaches climate commitments, high court told
Transport Action Network says £27bn programme does not take account of Paris climate agreement”
“The government’s plans for a multibillion pound road-building scheme would breach the UK’s legal commitments to tackle the climate crisis and critically undermine the country’s standing ahead of a key summit later this year, the high court has heard.
Lawyers acting for the Transport Action Network (TAN) argued that plans for the UK’s huge £27bn road building programme – set out in its Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2) last year – did not take into account the government’s obligations to reach net zero emissions by 2050 or its commitments under the Paris climate agreement.
Campaigners accuse the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, and the Department for Transport of unlawfully failing to take account of the “obviously material” impact of the roads programme on the UK’s climate commitments.
Before the hearing on Tuesday Chris Todd, director of TAN, described the proceedings as the “biggest legal challenge to transport policy in British history.”….
…Experts say the UK’s road network and its wider transport infrastructure are crucial in the country’s efforts to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis. The transport sector is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and the only one to have increased its emissions in recent years.
Earlier this month the Welsh government announced a freeze on its future road building as part of its plans to tackle the climate emergency
The case at the high court is due to conclude on Wednesday with judgment expected to be given at a later date.”
“Big oil and gas kept a dirty secret for decades. Now they may pay the price”
“Via an unprecedented wave of lawsuits, America’s petroleum giants face a reckoning for the devastation caused by fossil fuels
After a century of wielding extraordinary economic and political power, America’s petroleum giants face a reckoning for driving the greatest existential threat of our lifetimes.
An unprecedented wave of lawsuits, filed by cities and states across the US, aim to hold the oil and gas industry to account for the environmental devastation caused by fossil fuels – and covering up what they knew along the way.
Coastal cities struggling to keep rising sea levels at bay, midwestern states watching “mega-rains” destroy crops and homes, and fishing communities losing catches to warming waters, are now demanding the oil conglomerates pay damages and take urgent action to reduce further harm from burning fossil fuels.”
Worth a read for a summary of the avalanche of claims being brought.
And if the author of this article has his way, criminal litigation will follow on from the plethora of civil law suits:
“The climate crisis is a crime that should be prosecuted
Fossil fuel companies lied for decades about climate change, and humanity is paying the price. Shouldn’t those lies be central to the public narrative?”
“Every person on Earth today is living in a crime scene.
This crime has been going on for decades. We see its effects in the horrific heat and wildfires unfolding this summer in the American west; in the mega-storms that were so numerous in 2020 that scientists ran out of names for them; in the global projections that sea levels are set to rise by at least 20ft. Our only hope is to slow this inexorable ascent so our children may figure out some way to cope.
This crime has displaced or killed untold numbers of people around the world, caused countless billions of dollars in economic damage and ravaged vital ecosystems and wildlife. It has disproportionately affected already marginalized communities around the world, from farmers in coastal Bangladesh, where the fast-rising seas are salting the soil and slashing rice yields, to low-income residents of Houston, Chicago and other cities, whose neighborhoods suffer higher temperatures than prosperous areas across town.”
I wonder if he would prosecute wind farm companies for “ravaged vital ecosystems and wildlife”?
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“French court orders government to act on climate in next nine months
Council of State says it will assess state’s actions after 31 March 2022, and could issue substantial fines”
“France’s top administrative court has ordered the government to take “all necessary additional steps” within the next nine months to enable it to reach its climate crisis targets or face possible sanctions, including substantial fines.
The Council of State said in a final ruling published on Thursday, with no possibility for appeal by the government, that France was not on track to meet its goal of achieving a 40% cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030.
“The Council of State therefore instructs the government to take additional measures between now and 31 March 2022 to hit the target,” it said.
A spokesperson said it would assess the state’s actions after the deadline, which falls days before the first round of presidential polls in which Emmanuel Macron is expected to seek re-election, and could issue a fine if it considered it necessary.
“This ruling by the Council of State is historic: for the first time in France, the state has been ordered to act for the climate,” said Damien Carême, an MEP and former mayor of the northern coastal town of Grande-Synthe, which brought the case.”
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Occasionally the litigation goes the other way!
“French wind farm causes storm in Belgium”
“Belgium is to take legal action against France over plans for an offshore wind farm that it says will damage its hopes of reopening a post-Brexit ferry line across to Britain.
The scheme, which involves placing 46 turbines as high as the Eiffel Tower off Dunkirk, has infuriated the Belgian authorities, who accuse France of a high-handed dismissal of their concerns.
The row has done nothing to enhance France’s reputation in Belgium, where football fans celebrated the French team’s elimination from the Euro 2020 tournament this week by burning tricolour flags. “
“Australian government must protect young people from climate crisis harm, court declares
Environment minister has 28 days to appeal historic ruling that carbon emissions from coalmine should not cause young people ‘personal injury or death’”
“Australia’s federal court has formally declared the nation’s environment minister has a “duty to take reasonable care” that young people won’t be harmed or killed by carbon dioxide emissions if she approves a coalmine expansion, in a judgment that could have wider implications for fossil fuel projects.
In the federal court case, brought by eight schoolchildren and an octogenarian nun, Justice Mordecai Bromberg on Thursday also ordered the minister pay all costs….
…Sharma said the “historic ruling” would make it harder for politicians “to continue to approve large-scale fossil fuel projects that will only fast-track the climate crisis.”
In his May judgment, Bromberg said the potential harm to children from climate change “may fairly be described as catastrophic, particularly should global average surface temperatures rise to and exceed 3C beyond the pre-industrial level”.
Lawyer David Barnden, who represented the children, said: “For young people this decision brings hope and anticipation of a better, and responsible decision making by government. The ramifications for the minister are clear.”
The judge’s declaration was made in relation to the Vickery Extension project, which gained approval from the NSW Independent Planning Commission in August last year. Ley has still to approve the project.
Whitehaven has said about 60% of the coal from the extension will be used for making steel, with the rest for burning in power stations.
Barnden said it was conceivable the duty of care would extend to other fossil fuel projects that came before the minister for approval. He said the minister would have 28 days to appeal against the case.
A spokesperson for the minister said: “The Morrison government will review the judgment closely and assess all available options.””
The latest development in the Australian climate litigation:
“Australian government to appeal ruling that it must protect children from climate harm
Environment minister to challenge federal court judgment in a case against a NSW coalmine expansion brought by schoolchildren and nun”
And occasionally the litigation goes the other way:
“North Dakota sues over Biden’s halt in oil and gas leases on public lands
State protests lost revenue and insists on right to control “its own natural resources””
“North Dakota has sued the Biden administration over its suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water, saying the move will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.”
“Southampton Airport: Runway legal review request submitted”
“Opponents of the planned extension to Southampton Airport runway have formally submitted their request for a judicial review to the High Court.
Eastleigh Borough Council has approved plans to lengthen the runway by 164m (538ft).
Campaigners Airport Expansion Opposition (AXO) said the decision needed the “full scrutiny” of a judicial review.
The council previously said it was confident its procedures were sound.
The airport plans to extend the runway in order to accommodate larger planes needed for longer haul flights.”
“Oil giant Shell set to appeal against ruling on carbon emissions
Company hopes to get Dutch court ruling overturned which called for it to cut emissions faster”
“Royal Dutch Shell has confirmed that it will appeal against the landmark Dutch court ruling calling for the oil giant to cut its carbon emissions faster.
A court in The Hague reached the milestone verdict in May this year after Friends of the Earth and over 17,000 co-plaintiffs successfully argued that Shell had been aware of the dangerous consequences of CO2 emissions for decades, and that its climate targets did not go far enough.
Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive, said the company agrees that “urgent action is needed” to reduce carbon emissions, and vowed to accelerate its progress towards becoming a net zero carbon company, but said that Shell would still appeal against the ruling “because a court judgment, against a single company, is not effective”.
“What is needed is clear, ambitious policies that will drive fundamental change across the whole energy system,” he said. “Climate change is a challenge that requires both urgent action and an approach that is global, collaborative and encourages coordination between all parties.”
Friends of the Earth Netherlands, also known as Milieudefensie, said the appeal would send “the wrong signal” and confirm Shell’s “lack of commitment” to tackling the global climate crisis.
Donald Pols, a director at Milieudefensie, said the appeal aimed to postpone any action from Shell and warned that “the longer the delay the more serious the climate consequences will be for us all”.
The court ruled that Shell has an obligation to cut its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, compared with 2019 levels, under both Dutch law and the European convention on human rights – the right to life and the right to family life – and that the company had known for “a long time” about the damage caused by carbon emissions.”
Here’s an interesting fightback:
“Outrage as Italy faces multimillion pound damages to UK oil firm
Secretive tribunals allow fossil fuel companies to sue governments for passing laws to protect environment”
“Italy could be forced to pay millions of pounds in damages to a UK oil company after banning new drilling near its coast.
The case has sparked outrage at the secretive international tribunals at which fossil fuel companies can sue governments for passing laws to protect the environment – amid fears that such cases are slowing down action on the climate crisis. It is also fuelling concern that the UK is particularly exposed to the risk of oil firms suing to prevent green policies, potentially hampering climate action.
Rockhopper Exploration, based in Salisbury, Wiltshire, bought a licence to drill for oil off Italy’s Adriatic coast in 2014. There had already been a wave of opposition to the project, with protests that drew tens of thousands of people. Within two years, the campaign won over the Italian parliament, which imposed a ban on oil and gas projects within 12 nautical miles of the Italian coast.
Rockhopper fought back using a relatively obscure legal mechanism known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which allows companies to sue governments for introducing policies that could affect their future earnings. Reports suggest Rockhopper has spent $29m (£21m) on the offshore project to date and is claiming damages of $275m based on expected future profits from the oilfield.
The company said it has been advised that it has “strong prospects of recovering very significant monetary damages” as a result of Italy’s actions.”
“Activists lose legal bid to stop £27bn roads plan for England
Climate campaigners appeal against judgment saying ministers are being ‘let off the hook’”
“Campaigners have lost a legal challenge to the government’s £27bn roadbuilding programme after the high court dismissed their application for a judicial review.
Lawyers for Transport Action Network (TAN) argued that the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, had drawn up the roads investment strategy for England, known as RIS2, without taking into account the UK’s environmental commitments or assessing the additional carbon emissions and climate impact of another 4,000 miles of road.
However, the judge, Mr Justice Holgate, said Shapps had received a “briefing, albeit laconic” from officials saying the policy was consistent with net zero targets, based on a comprehensive programme of analysis, and that Shapps did not need to know the actual numbers.
He said claimants had “a heavy evidential onus to establish that a decision was irrational, absent bad faith or manifest absurdity” and noted that the government was “taking a range of steps to tackle the need for urgency in addressing carbon production in the transport sector”, adding: “Whether they are enough is not a matter for the court.”
TAN argued Shapps was legally required to consider the effect on the environment and there was a clear inconsistency in increasing traffic during the worsening climate emergency.
The campaigners’ lawyers have appealed against the judgment and are crowdfunding for further legal costs.”
“Campaigners win right to challenge state aid for North Sea oil and gas
High court allows Greenpeace UK and others to seek judicial review of support for fossil fuel industry”
“The government will face a legal challenge over its continuing support for North Sea oil and gas production despite its legally binding target to end the UK’s contribution to the climate crisis.
The high court agreed on Wednesday to allow a judicial review against the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which set out a strategy earlier this year to continue to encourage the production of North Sea oil and gas while moving to a net zero carbon future.
The strategy also fails to take into account the billions of pounds of public money required to support the industry, according to the coalition of green campaigners behind the legal challenge.
The groups, which including Greenpeace UK, Friends of the Earth Scotland and 350.org, hope the judicial review could spell the end for production that relies on generous public subsidies.
The OGA and the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, will need to submit the grounds of their defence by the end of August, a little over two months before the UK hosts the Cop26 UN climate talks in Glasgow. The case is expected to be heard before the end of the year, with a decision in early 2022.”
The article baldly says this (but provides no links or other authority to back up the claim):
“The government has paid £3.2bn of public money to North Sea oil and gas companies since it signed up to the Paris climate agreement in 2015.”
I have no idea whether or not that is accurate, but it seems so surprising, that I would have expected some additional information to back up the claim.
Also, more litigation may be in the pipeline (pardon the pun):
“Ministers may face a second legal challenge from Greenpeace over plans to allow exploration at the Cambo oilfield near Shetland after promising to put an end to new oil exploration licences that do not align with the UK’s climate goals.”
It’s a pity Greenpeace isn’t so concerned about the environmental harm being caused to the Central Shetland Mainland by the enormous Viking Energy wind farm development.
“Climate crisis has cost Colorado billions – now it wants oil firms to pick up the bill”
“ExxonMobil and Suncor face lawsuits in the western state but big oil’s apologists say the US consumer is to blame for emissions…
…Boulder county estimates it will cost taxpayers $100m over the next three decades just to adapt transport and drainage systems to the climate crisis, and reduce the risk from wildfires.
The county government says the bill should be paid by those who drove the crisis – the oil companies that spent decades covering up and misrepresenting the warnings from climate scientists. It is suing the US’s largest oil firm, ExxonMobil, and Suncor, a Canadian company with its US headquarters in Colorado, to require that they “use their vast profits to pay their fair share of what it will cost a community to deal with the problem the companies created”.
Boulder county, alongside similar lawsuits by the city of Boulder and San Miguel county in the south-west of the state, accuse the companies of deceptive trade practices and consumer fraud because their own scientists warned them of the dangers of burning of fossil fuels but the firms suppressed evidence of a growing climate crisis. The lawsuits also claim that as the climate emergency escalated, companies funded front groups to question the science in order to keep selling oil.
“It is far more difficult to change it now than it would have been if the companies had been honest about what they knew 30 or 50 years ago,” said Marco Simons, general counsel for Earth Rights International, which is handling the lawsuit for the county. “That is probably the biggest tragedy here. Communities in this country and around the world were essentially robbed of their options.”
Boulder county’s lawsuit contends that annual temperatures in Colorado will rise between 3.5F and 6.5F by 2050 and imperil the state’s economy, including farming and the ski industry….”.
From this week’s Law Society Gazette:
“According to a study by the London School of Economics, the number of disputes relating to climate change worldwide has more than doubled over the past five years. Most cases have been brought against governments – typically by corporations, non-governmental organisations and individuals – and have focused on compliance with climate commitments, human rights and the financial risk of climate change.”
It seems that the only permissible litigation in this area is against fossil fuel companies, not by them:
“Why is life on Earth still taking second place to fossil fuel companies?
Effective action against climate breakdown is near impossible while governments are vulnerable to lawsuits”
“A UK oil company is currently suing the Italian government for the loss of its “future anticipated profits”after Italy banned new oil drilling in coastal waters. Italy used to be a signatory to the Energy Charter Treaty, which allows companies to demand compensation if it stops future projects. The treaty’s sunset clause permits such lawsuits after nations are no longer party to it, so Italy can be sued even though it left the agreement in 2016. This is one of many examples of “investor-state dispute settlement”, that makes effective action against climate breakdown almost impossible. It represents an outrageous curtailment of political choice, with which governments like ours are entirely comfortable. I’m not sure how we can escape such agreements, but government lawyers should be all over this issue, looking for a way out. Otherwise, future corporate profits remain officially more important than life on Earth.”
Mark, if our government pulled out of CfDs, ROCs etc, the wind farm companies would just shrug and move on.
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There definitely seems to be a push on the issue of fossil fuel companies daring to use litigation against governments constraining their activities:
“UK ‘sitting on fence’ over reform of global fossil fuels deal
Opposition Labour Party wants tougher UK stance on ability of fossil fuel companies to sue governments.”
“The U.K. government is “sitting on the fence” over calls to reform a decades-old agreement governing the global energy market ahead of the COP26 climate conference, according to the Labour Party.
Shadow Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry has written to Trade Secretary Liz Truss, in a letter seen by POLITICO, urging the government to push for green reform in talks to refresh the Energy Charter Treaty.
The international agreement, signed by 54 nations, was put together in the wake of the Cold War to open up the worldwide energy market. It allows private companies to sue governments for damages if the value or future profits of private investments are hurt by new legislation.
Climate campaigners are fed up with companies using it to take legal action against nations that attempt to restrict fossil fuel operations in a bid to go green. More than 400 environmental groups, charities, NGOs and trade campaigners last month signed a statement calling for the U.K. and EU to withdraw from the ECT.
German energy firm Uniper is using the investor-state dispute-settlement mechanism in the agreement to challenge the Dutch government over its plans to phase out coal power. British oil and gas exploration firm Rockhopper is awaiting the verdict of its challenge to Italian restrictions on offshore oil and gas operations in the Adriatic Sea.
Talks to modernize the ECT have been in progress since 2017, but the process has been slow-going, and the U.K.’s Department for International Trade (DIT) is not pushing for fossil fuel investments to be outside its arbitration system. “
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Awesome to be alerted to the ECT debate Mark. Liz Truss has slammed the door in the face of extreme activists in what I’ll call (for want of a better title) the transgender wars. She’ll do this more quietly but it sounds like she’s on the right side again. (Though that fact is clearly needing to be confirmed.)
Thanks, Richard. The Energy Charter Treaty is potentially a big deal. I’m far from convinced that I support it in principle, though it does seem right to me that Governments shouldn’t with impunity be able to encourage private business to do something then pull the rug from beneath their feet.
Anyway, watch this space. I suspect it could be a big talking-point at COP26, in the absence of any substantive progress on any of the very big issues.
“Judges urged to halt Vorlich North Sea oilfield”
“Greenpeace has urged judges to stop an oil field in the North Sea due to “myriad failures”.
The environmental group believes permission should not have been granted for the Vorlich field, 150 miles east of Aberdeen.
Ruth Crawford QC said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng had been “deprived” of information about the environmental impact it could have.
The Inner House of the Court of Session is hearing the case.
Greenpeace has gone to Scotland’s highest civil court with the aim of overturning Mr Kwarteng’s decision giving permission for Vorlich.
Ms Crawford told Scotland’s most senior judge, the Lord President, Lord Carloway, that the government had a legal obligation to conduct a proper public consultation on the development.
The advocate for Greenpeace said the consultation that had been held was inadequate. She said it did not meet best practice and the government did not properly publicise the scheme….
…Permission to drill the Vorlich site was given to BP in 2018.
Greenpeace wants the court to revoke a permit to drill for 30 million barrels of oil. The court heard that BP failed to publish a statutory notice on its website regarding the development.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has instructed Roddy Dunlop QC to contest the action.
Mr Dunlop said the failure to publish the notice was an error, but that it would be wrong to overturn permission for Vorlich on this basis.
He said: “A blank template went on rather than the notice itself. It is a minor technical issue which didn’t give rise to any material prejudice to any party.”
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), also contesting the action, has instructed advocate Ross McClelland to act on its behalf.
Greenpeace believes that if it were to win its case at the Court of Session, it would have ramifications for how the UK government makes future oil permit decisions, such as the Cambo field off Shetland.
The hearing continues on Thursday.”
“Greenpeace Vorlich oilfield challenge ‘largely opportunistic'”
So far as I can see this is largely a re-hash of the earlier BBC article giving free publicity to Greenpeace’s legal challenge, though the headline (which seems to carry implicit criticism) is intriguing. The article contains this:
“Ms Crawford said Greenpeace wanted proper public participation in important developments such as the Vorlich oilfield.”
I wonder if Greenpeace also wants to see proper public participation in important developments such as massive wind farms?
“The climate activists who want Norway to end oil and gas production”
“As world leaders prepare for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, soaring gas prices in Europe have exposed the continent’s deep dependence on fossil fuels. Young climate activists in Norway are asking European judges to stop their government allowing more drilling for oil and gas.”
Who is funding them? And why?
“Young climate activists vow to keep fighting despite UN setback
Children’s rights body rejects landmark case by group of activists including Greta Thunberg”
“A group of youth activists say they have been spurred to fight even harder after their landmark case arguing that countries perpetuating the climate crisis violate their human rights was rejected by a UN children’s rights body.
Greta Thunberg and 15 other activists from around the world filed their case accusing Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey of violating their rights to life, health and culture under the convention on the rights of the child by failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would restrict global warming to 1.5C, in accordance with the Paris agreement.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child accepted some of their arguments – including that states are legally responsible for the impact of emissions on children outside their borders and that the young people are victims of anticipated threats to their rights.
But with only weeks to go until the start of vital climate talks at Cop26, the UN body ruled their case was inadmissible and said it would not hear it until they had first taken it to individual national courts – a process that lawyers predict will take years.
The US climate activist Alexandria Villaseñor, who was one of the petitioners on the case, said she was shocked and angered by the result.
The 16-year-old, who started school striking when she was 13 outside the UN headquarters in New York, predicts it will encourage young activists to be even more vocal at Cop26.”
“Young Australians lodge human rights complaints with UN over alleged government inaction on climate
Five young people argue 2030 emissions target fails to uphold the rights of young Australians”
“Five young Australians, including members of First Nations and disability communities, have lodged three human rights complaints with the United Nations over what they claim is the Morrison government’s inaction on climate.
The complainants – aged between 14 and 24 years old – argue that the Australian government’s 2030 emissions reduction target fails to uphold the rights of every young person in Australia.
They claim the target is putting young First Nations people and people with disabilities at risk of acute harm from climate change.
They filed the complaint just days before the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, where key allies, like the US and UK, will expect to see improvements to Australia’s emissions reduction targets….”.
bit o/t – ch4 had a prog on tonight called – “Joe Lycett vs the oil giant Shell”
just watched it & Joe is so “funny” (as all comedy seems to be these days (sarc)
he did the usual at the end, with a message to shell on his handy iphone (*ick)
didn’t take long for the reviews to come in – https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2021/oct/24/greta-thunberg-would-love-it-shells-investors-less-so-joe-lycett-vs-the-oil-giant-review
“The comic and self-styled consumer champion turns his attention to the ‘eco-friendly’ face of the fossil fuel behemoth. Is he virtue signalling? Yes – but it’s hard not to be impressed”
no, it’s hard to be impressed with virtue signalling well paid “comic” who has no clue what he is talking about.
“Climate campaigners take South Africa to court over coal policy
Civil society organisations’ lawsuit argues the country’s energy policy is incompatible with the constitution”
“South Africa’s plan to build new coal-fired power stations during the climate crisis is being challenged in court for breaching the rights of current and future generations.
Three civil society organisations have launched a constitutional lawsuit in the North Gauteng high court against the South African government, arguing that its energy policy is incompatible with the national constitution.
Coal makes up about 80% of South Africa’s energy mix, and the government intends to add 1,500MW more over the next six years as part of its 2019 integrated resource plan.”
“Activists take court action against Boris Johnson over climate crisis
Three people claim government is breaching right to life and family life by not doing what is needed to prevent disaster”
“Three young people are taking legal action against the prime minister, accusing him of breaching his legal obligations to take “practical and effective measures” to tackle the climate crisis.
In a high court hearing in London on Thursday, Adetola Onamade, 24, Jerry Amokwandoh, 22, and Marina Tricks, 20, claimed the government was breaching their rights under the Human Rights Act to life and to family life by failing to do what was necessary to avert environmental disaster.
They argue that Boris Johnson’s government is discriminating against the younger generation and people in the global south who will bear the brunt of the climate crisis.
Backed by the charity Plan B Earth, the hearing was an application to allow the case to go to a full hearing, with a judge expected to respond with a decision in the coming days.
The environmental lawyer Tim Crosland of Plan B Earth told the court the three claimants’ case was “compelling, vital and deserves a fair hearing”.
“The defendants know that climate change is an urgent threat to life. They know its impacts hit hardest for groups exposed to disproportionate and discriminatory risks, including the claimants. They know what needs to be done but they are not doing it,” he said.
He added that the claim had been brought about because of the government’s failure to take the required action to meet statutory climate targets. “We have a credibility gap between words and action – that is at best neglect of the defendant’s most profound responsibilities and legal obligation for which this court should be ready to hold them to account.”
Co-claimant Onamade said it was “cynical and condescending” for the defendants to suggest their motivations for bringing the case to court were “disingenuous” or that they were “being tokenised” as young people of African heritage.”
Unless the legal world has gone mad, and I’m pretty confident that this nonsense will be thrown out before too long. No UK Prime Minister could “tackle the climate crisis”, even if there is one. It requires world-wide action, and most of the rest of the world is doing significantly less than the UK to reduce emissions.
“Environmental activists challenge ‘unlawful’ UK fossil fuel plan in high court
Climate campaigners claim the government is giving billions of pounds in subsidies to oil and gas producers”
“Environmental campaigners will this week ask the high court to rule that the government’s fossil fuel strategy is unlawful, in a case that could undermine the UK’s claim to be leading the fight against climate change.
The campaigners will argue that the government is effectively subsidising oil and gas production with billions of pounds in handouts, which conflicts with its legal duty to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Pressure group Paid to Pollute says oil and gas companies received billions of pounds in tax relief for new oil and gas exploration, and billions more towards decommissioning costs between 2016 and 2020. The group says this amounts to fossil fuel subsidies.
“Public money is supporting businesses that contribute to the climate crisis instead of solving it,” said Kairin van Sweeden, one of three activists who will appear in court. “We have to challenge this deadly use of the public purse. If the Oil and Gas Authority won’t use common sense, perhaps it’ll listen to the courts.”
…A government spokesperson said the UK did not pay any fossil fuel subsidies: “No other significant oil and gas-producing nation has gone as far as the UK in supporting the sector’s gradual transition to a low-carbon future, as demonstrated by our North Sea transition deal….”
I wonder who is paying their legal fees, and why? The Paid to Pollute website can be found here:
There is a narrative there about the three claimants. I love the biopic of Mikaela Loach:
“As a current medical student and member of the Jamaican diaspora, I am hugely concerned about the impact of the climate crisis both today and in the future. When visiting family in Jamaica I have seen first-hand the impacts of the climate crisis on it – as a low lying, previously colonised nation. ”
I’m not sure what is the relevance of “As a current medical student and member of the Jamaican diaspora” that should make her more concerned about climate change than someone who isn’t a medical student or a member of the Jamaican diaspora. I note that she flies backwards and forwards to Jamaica to visit her family. When I was her age I had never been in an aeroplane. She certainly has an immensely bigger carbon footprint than I did at her age, and I wouldn’t be surprised if her carbon footprint exceeds mine in total already.
Somehow, the phrase ‘Fifth Columnist’ sprang to my mind.
There have been no new developments here, so it’s not news, as such, but that doesn’t stop the BBC doing a big piece on it:
“The teenagers and the nun trying to stop an Australian coal mine”
“When eight teenagers and an elderly nun in Australia teamed up for a climate case, they won, in a historic judgement. Their case has now been appealed by the country’s government. If the final verdict swings in their favour, it will have ramifications not just for Australian law but for climate cases world-wide.”
“Campaigners lose court action over lawfulness of UK climate policies
Plan B Earth group argued ministers had not taken ‘practical and effective’ steps to reduce emissions”
“An environmental campaign group that challenged the lawfulness of the UK government’s climate policies has lost a high court fight.
Plan B Earth argued that ministers had not taken “practical and effective” steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It wanted Mr Justice Bourne to give activists the go-ahead for a judicial review but he refused to grant permission.”
No analysis of the Judge’s reasoning, just a long article explaining the activists’ point of view. Not so much news reporting as propaganda.
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“South Africa court blocks Shell’s oil exploration”
“A South African court has halted oil giant Shell’s seismic testing for oil and gas along the country’s eastern coastline, pending a final ruling.
The decision has been hailed by environmentalists who fear that the sound blasting will harm marine life.
Shell said it had “paused” operations while it reviewed the judgement.
South Africa’s Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe had condemned the project’s critics, saying they wanted to deprive Africa of energy resources.”
Perhaps the concerns for marine life is justified and the decision is a good one for the environment. But isn’t it strange that “environmentalists” only ever seem to have concerns for wildlife and the environment in connection with fossil fuel projects, rarely if ever with “renewables” projects, however harmful they may be?
A 3-minute puff piece video from the BBC:
“COP 26: The teenagers suing 33 countries”
A group of children in Portugal are using human rights law to force European politicians to tackle climate change.
After seeing the damage caused by wildfires in their home country of Portugal, André Oliviera, his sister Sofia and their friends are determined to make sure that leaders who pledged to reduce harmful emissions are forced to act.”
“UK government sued over ‘pie-in-the-sky’ net-zero climate strategy
ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth say strategy fails to include policies needed to ensure emissions cuts”
“The UK government is being sued over its net zero climate strategy, which lawyers argue illegally fails to include the policies needed to deliver the promised cuts in emissions.
Court papers were filed on Wednesday by ClientEarth (CE) and, separately, by Friends of the Earth (FoE). CE also claims the failure to meet legal carbon budgets would contravene the Human Rights Act by impacting on young people’s right to life and family life….
…Both CE and FoE argue that the Climate Change Act requires ministers to set out policies to meet carbon budgets “as soon as reasonably practicable” after they have been set. The assessment included in the net zero strategy shows UK emissions being double the level allowed in 2035 and also missing targets in 2025 and 2030.
“A net zero strategy needs to include real-world policies that ensure it succeeds,” said lawyer Sam Hunter Jones at CE. “Anything less is a breach of the government’s legal duties and amounts to greenwashing and climate delay. The government’s pie-in-the-sky approach pushes the risk onto young people and future generations who stand to be hit hardest by the climate crisis.”
The FoE action also claims that another government strategy, on heat and buildings, failed to assess its impact on groups protected in law, including children, people of colour and those with disabilities. FoE previously found that people of colour were twice as likely to be living in fuel poverty as white people….”.
“groups protected in law, including children, people of colour and those with disabilities”
can see “children and those with disabilities” probably, but “people of colour” ?
“Climate Activists Lose Court Case against UK Oil and Gas Authority”
“A UK High Court on Tuesday threw out a case brought by climate activists against the country’s oil and gas regulator OGA, rejecting their argument that the OGA’s actions amount to a type of unlawful subsidy of the fossil fuel sector.
The ruling, seen by Reuters, is a setback for climate activists who are increasingly taking to the courts to force a reduction in oil and gas production in order to control global warming….
…In the UK case, activists including a former oil refinery worker targeted the OGA’s assessment of applications for oil and gas field developments on a pre-tax basis, noting in some years if oil and gas prices were low the government actually returned money to producers rather than benefiting from tax receipts.
This, they argue, is in conflict with both the government’s long-standing policy of “maximising economic recovery” of oil and gas in the British North Sea, meaning that oil and gas extraction there should make commercial sense, and with Britain’s 2050 net zero emissions goal.
“I reject the contention that the strategy is unlawful because the definition of ‘economically recoverable’ was irrational. It follows that the claimants’ claim fails and is dismissed,” Judge Sara Cockerill said in the ruling document….
…British energy and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and the OGA said they welcomed the ruling.
“Turning off North Sea oil and gas overnight would put energy security, jobs and industries at risk – and make us even more dependent on foreign imports. This has to be a transition, not extinction,” Kwarteng said on Twitter.
OGA lawyer Kate Gallafent had told the court in December the benefits of oil and gas extractions were “a lot wider” than tax revenues, pointing to energy security and jobs.”
“Oil firms accused of scare tactics after claiming climate lawsuits ‘a threat to US’
Attorneys for BP, Exxon and Shell claim city of Baltimore’s case over ‘deception and failure to warn’ could kill offshore drilling”
“US oil firms have been accused of using scare tactics after telling a federal court on Tuesday that lawsuits alleging fossil fuel companies lied about the climate crisis could threaten America’s oil supply.
At a closely watched appeals court hearing to decide whether a lawsuit by the city of Baltimore should be heard in state or federal court, an attorney for BP, Exxon, Shell and other energy firms painted the case as a threat to America’s energy independence.
Kannon Shanmugam, representing the industry, told the court that if the city were to succeed in state court, and win billions of dollars in compensation, that could kill offshore drilling.
“The relief that Baltimore seeks would deter, if not render entirely impractical, any further production on the outer continental shelf,” he said.
Karen Sokol, a law professor at Loyola University who specialises in climate litigation, called the claim one of a number of “sterile scare tactics” deployed by the oil industry as it fights to move the Baltimore and other cases out of state jurisdictions, where consumer protection and other laws favour the plaintiffs, and in to federal courts where the fossil fuel companies believe they have the advantage.
“It’s a scare tactic, which is telling the courts to back off, we’re a very powerful industry and we’re essential right now to energy security. If you step into this, you’re going to screw everything up,” she said.”
It seems that only climate alarmists may legitimately indulge in scare tactics.
“Granting of coal mining licence in south Wales faces court challenge
Coal Action Network threatens legal action against decision to permit expansion of Aberpergwm site”
“The UK and Welsh governments are facing a legal challenge over the recent decision to grant a new coal mining licence in south Wales.
Legal representatives acting for the Coal Action Network have notified the Coal Authority and the devolved Welsh administration that the group plans to challenge the lawfulness of the decision to permit an expansion of the existing Aberpergwm site in the Neath Valley. Their pre-action letter sets a deadline of 14 February before the organisation will look to file for judicial review proceedings.”
Inevitable, I suppose. There seems to be no shortage of funding to bring legal claims.
“The environmental activists bringing the climate crisis to the courtroom
There’s a growing trend of climate litigation around the world. Here’s a look at the Australian cases likely to make headlines this year”
A climate duty of care?
Environment Minister v Sharma
Rising sea levels
Pabai v Commonwealth
Climate (in)action and human rights
Youth Verdict v Waratah Coal
Australasian Centre for Corporation Responsibility v Santos
Failure to disclose climate risk
O’Donnell v Commonwealth
“The first climate case in Australia was brought in 1994, when Greenpeace challenged the construction of a coal-fired power station. In the subsequent decades, most climate litigation has been grounded in administrative law – challenging government decision-making that insufficiently mitigated or entirely ignored climate impact. It is only in recent years that improved science and continuing government and corporate inaction has prompted more creative climate lawyering, using tort law, corporate law, human rights law and beyond.
That trend is set to continue. Last year, significant climate litigation cases were filed almost monthly; even more are anticipated this year. “
Only climate alarmists should have successful access to the Courts, apparently:
“Trump-appointed judge blocks Biden administration climate metric
Judge bars higher cost estimate which puts a dollar value on damages caused by additional greenhouse gases emitted”
“A Trump-appointed federal judge has blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to put greater emphasis on potential damage from greenhouse gas emissions when creating rules for polluting industries.
The move represents a blow to Joe Biden’s efforts to bring America more back in line with global efforts to fight the climate crisis after the Trump era, when the US largely turned its back on measures that might have helped limit emissions.
It also shows the impact of Donald Trump’s judicial appointees, which were overwhelmingly conservative and will have impact far beyond Trump’s single term in office.
US district judge James Cain of the western district of Louisiana sided with Republican attorneys general from energy producing states who said the administration’s action to raise the cost estimate of carbon emissions threatened to drive up energy costs while decreasing state revenues from energy production.
The judge issued an injunction that bars the Biden administration from using the higher cost estimate, which puts a dollar value on damages caused by every additional ton of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
Biden on his first day in office restored the climate cost estimate to about $51 a ton of carbon dioxide emissions after the Trump administration had reduced the figure to about $7 or less a ton. Trump’s estimate included only damages felt in the US versus the global damages captured in higher estimates that were previously used under the Obama administration….
…Republican attorneys general led by Louisiana’s Jeff Landry said the Biden administration’s revival of the higher estimate was illegal and exceeded its authority by basing the figure on global considerations. The other states whose officials sued are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Landry’s office issued a statement calling Cain’s ruling “a major win for nearly every aspect of Louisiana’s economy and culture”.
Friday’s ruling by Cain follows a ruling by another Louisiana judge last summer that struck down a separate Biden attempt to address greenhouse gas emissions by suspending new oil and gas leases on federal lands and water.
The judge in that case, US district judge Terry Doughty, is also a Trump appointee.”
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Meanwhile, in the UK, note the much more positive reporting about Courts:
“Windfarm off Norfolk coast gets second green light after court battle
Government reapproves project, which could power 4m homes, after it was stalled by local concerns”
“A vast windfarm off the Norfolk coast has been approved by ministers for a second time after a local man convinced a high court judge to overturn the first decision a year ago.
The high court verdict last February forced the government to reconsider the plans by the Swedish renewables firm Vattenfall to build two offshore windfarms capable of generating enough green electricity to power the equivalent of 4m UK homes.
But on Friday Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, reapproved the Norfolk Vanguard offshore windfarm, more than a year and a half after first giving the project the nod. His department approved the Norfolk Boreas windfarm, its sister project, at the end of last year.
The projects were temporarily derailed last year after a legal challenge by a local resident, Raymond Pearce, raised concerns about the impact on the landscape and the view….
…Conservationists also raised concerns about the safety of endangered birds in the area….”
Local concerns? Landscape? Endangered birds? Who cares?
This story (the one mentioned in the above comment) might run and run:
“Norfolk wind farms offer ‘significant benefit’ for local economy”
“Two offshore wind farms capable of powering nearly four million homes are to be built off the Norfolk coast after the government re-approved plans. A college and energy group tells us they will provide a boost for the workforce and young people locally, but not everyone is happy.
The Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas projects could power 3.9 million homes, energy firm Vattenfall says, but plans for the former were temporarily called off after a High Court judge ruled against them.
The government re-approved plans last week, but Raymond Pearce, who lives near Reepham in Norfolk, is one of those unhappy at the decision.
He had started a legal challenge citing concerns about the effect the development would have on the landscape and the view.
He argued that ministers had not taken into account the “cumulative impacts” of the project and had given “inadequate” reasons for not doing so….
…Following the re-approval of the decision by the government, Mr Pearce says he is considering a new appeal over what he calls “a very poor decision”.
He is also sceptical of claims the two new wind farms will bring the economic gains promised by Vattenfall.
“It’s renewable energy at any cost and the cost here is to the environment in Norfolk,” he says.
“I don’t blame them for being positive about it, it’s their industry but they’re not looking at it holistically.”
He says he is not against renewable energy but thinks a better plan is needed to connect the offshore windfarms and minimise the number of cables and substations onshore.”
More litigation not of the sort desired by climate campaigners:
“Supreme court case could restrict Biden’s effort to tackle climate crisis
Court to hear West Virginia case that takes aim at EPA’s ability to issue strict rules to curb pollution from fossil fuel power stations”
“Joe Biden’s faltering effort to tackle the climate crisis faces a further, potentially devastating, blow on Monday in a supreme court case that experts warn could severely restrict any future US government attempt to limit planet-heating emissions.
The court has agreed to hear a case brought by West Virginia, supported by 18 other Republican-led states, that takes aim at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to issue strict regulations to curb pollution from fossil fuel-fired power stations.
“The decision by the conservative-leaning court to even consider an argument about a hypothetical regulation that hasn’t been proposed by the EPA has surprised onlookers. It is also an ominous sign for the authority of a Biden administration already frustrated over major clean energy legislation that has stalled in Congress due to opposition from Republicans and centrist Democrats such as West Virginia senator Joe Manchin.
“This is a vitally important case that will define future federal action on climate change issues,” said Judith Enck, former EPA regional administrator and president of Beyond Plastics. “Congress seems unwilling or unable to address the climate crisis. Federal agencies need to be able to take action.”
Even if Biden and his allies in Congress are able to pass the climate elements of the Build Back Better Act, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars in support for wind and solar energy and electric cars, most analysts say executive action to slash pollution from power plants, cars and trucks will still be needed if the US is to meet its emissions reduction goals and avert disastrous climate change.
West Virginia’a lawsuit, filed last year and supported by various fossil fuel firms and rightwing groups, argues that the EPA shouldn’t be able to issue rules that “are capable of reshaping the nation’s electricity grids and unilaterally decarbonizing virtually any sector of the economy” and claims that Congress alone should decide on regulation of this scope.”
“Australia climate change: Court overturns teenagers’ case against minister”
“The Australian government has won an appeal against a ruling that it has a duty of care to protect children from harm caused by climate change.
Last year, eight teenagers and an 87-year-old nun convinced a court that the government had a legal duty to children when assessing fossil fuel projects.
The decision was hailed as a world first, but it has been successfully challenged by the environment minister.
The teenagers could still take the case to Australia’s highest court.
“Today’s ruling leaves us devastated, but it will not deter us in our flight for climate justice,” said 17-year-old Anjali Sharma, in a statement released by their lawyers.
Their case attempted to stop the expansion of the Vickery coal mine in New South Wales, which is estimated to add an extra 170 million tonnes of fossil fuel emissions to the atmosphere.
Three judges in the Federal Court of Australia unanimously sided with Environment Minister Sussan Ley on Tuesday, but their list of reasons differed….”.
“Shell directors sued for ‘failing to prepare company for net zero’
Environmental law organisation ClientEarth brings action and urges other shareholders to join”
“The directors of Shell are being sued for failing to properly prepare the multinational oil and gas company for net zero.
In what is thought to be a first-of-its-kind action, the lawsuit brought by activist shareholders claims that Shell’s 13 directors are personally liable for failing to devise a strategy in line with the Paris agreement, which aims to limit global heating to below 2C by slashing fossil fuel emissions.
The lawsuit claims the failure puts the directors in breach of their duties under the UK’s Companies Act.
If successful, Shell’s board could be forced by the courts to change its strategy, taking specific concrete steps to align its plan with the Paris deal. But if the claimants lose, they could be liable for the full costs of the case, including directors’ legal fees.
ClientEarth, the environmental law organisation taking the action against Shell, said it was calling for other shareholders to join.”
“Bristol Airport expansion decision to go to High Court”
“For campaigners, this is a fight for the future of the planet. But many of them are experienced lawyers, and they know they must win their battle in the dry, logical reasoning of the High Court.
They can’t simply re-state their case that more flying means more climate change. They must persuade judges the planning inspectors made specific, legal mistakes in the way they made their decision.
North Somerset Council’s lawyers have been through that decision, and didn’t see enough to overturn it.
For councillors then, it is too much of a risk for local tax-payers money.
And at the heart of this local planning decision, is a big national principle.
Inspectors pointed out there is “no policy which seeks to limit airport expansion” nationally, and so to do so just at Bristol Airport would be unfair.
Reversing that judgment will be hard, but the campaigners believe they can do it.”
Mark – re “the Paris agreement”
I am still confused if it was/is legally binding, so googled “paris climate agreement legally binding”
and found a link to “The World Economic Forum” can’t give the link as I seem to be blocked every time I try lately!!!
one quote from Legal scholar Daniel Brodansky at Arizona State University caught my attention –
“Ultimately, legal bindingness reflects a state of mind…of officials who apply and interpret the law (judges, executive branch officials, and so forth), but also to some degree of the larger community that the law purports to govern,” he wrote shortly after the deal went into effect.
The power of the Paris Agreement, in other words, relies on a fluid agreement about the consequences for violating an international agreement, one not precisely defined.”It depends on what the British philosopher H.L.A. Hart referred to as their ‘internal point of view’,” Brodansky added, “a sense that a rule constitutes a legal obligation and that compliance is therefore required rather than merely optional.”
and after reading the whole link I’m none the wiser !!!
As luck would have it, today is the anniversary of the appearance of my debut article here:
It’s all about the Paris Agreement, and as I point out in it, the Agreement has no binding obligations and no enforcement mechanism, so is unenforceable.
“Legal eagles: how climate litigation is shaping ambitious cases for nature
Environmental lawsuits are nothing new but now lawyers are turning their attention to cases that address the loss of biodiversity”
An interesting article, and a pointer to what to expect down the line. But when it comes to biodiversity, environmentally damaging “renewables” projects never seem to be in their sights.
Mark – Thanks for the link back your “debut article” – was it only a year ago you started !!! happy anniversary & thanks for your posts,wit & interesting comments.
remember the “debut article” from you, now you reminded me.
at the time it chimed with my understanding re “the Paris Agreement” – as per your quote above “the Agreement has no binding obligations and no enforcement mechanism, so is unenforceable.”
so why are ClientEarth backing the lawsuit brought by activist shareholders claims that Shell’s 13 directors are personally liable for failing to devise a strategy in line with the Paris agreement ?
I notice they add – “The lawsuit claims the failure puts the directors in breach of their duties under the UK’s Companies Act.”
ps – googled “UK’s Companies Act” – and no way I could wade through it 😦
I am as mystified as you are, as regards ClientEarth’s (and others’) claims against the directors of Shell. Shareholders can always seek to bring directors of their company (after all, shareholders are part-owners) to book, but to do so, they have to be in breach of some legal duty, and like you, I don’t see it in this scenario.
I shall continue to watch this space, and hope that more is revealed in due course.
Don’t even try to read the Companies Act. I studied it for a term at University, worked with it in practice over about 20 years, and still was far from understanding everything there is to know about it. And, blast it, they’ve gone and passed a new one since then!
ahh – after following your links – https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/mar/15/shell-directors-sued-net-zero-clientearth
“ClientEarth has said it is taking the action against Shell in the company’s best interests. Their claim says the board has failed to properly account for the risks climate change poses to the company. Under the Companies Act, directors are legally bound to act in a way that promotes the company’s success and to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence.”
“Fossil fuels v our future: young Montanans wage historic climate fight”
“…Held v State of Montana, argues that state lawmakers have prioritized the business interests of the fossil fuel industry over their future. When their case is heard next February, it will be the first in a wave of youth-led climate lawsuits to successfully go to trial. Experts say a decision in favor of the 16 youth plaintiffs could have sweeping implications across the country, setting guard rails for how politicians are able to protect the interests of extractive corporations.
“The world is literally burning all around them, and nothing’s being done about it,” said Nate Bellinger, a senior staff attorney with Our Children’s Trust, the non-profit law firm that is representing the youth plaintiffs. “Not only is the state not doing enough, but the state is continuing to affirmatively promote the fossil fuel industry and development.”…”.
“First Nations challenge over approval of Clive Palmer’s coalmine begins in Queensland
Case centres on whether proposed Galilee Coal Project would harm climate and limit human rights”
“The proposal of a company owned by Clive Palmer to dig Australia’s largest thermal coalmine in central Queensland is “an attempt at financial gain” that comes with “an obscenely high cost” for future generations, a group challenging the mine’s approval in a landmark climate and human rights challenge has told court.
The case, which began in the Queensland land court on Tuesday, has been brought by a group of young people, Youth Verdict, and is led by its First Nations members.
The group argues that the Galilee Coal Project proposed by Palmer’s company, Waratah Coal, would cause environmental harm by contributing to global climate change, and in the process limit the cultural rights of First Nations Queenslanders to maintain their distinctive relationships with the land, the court heard.”
“Who owns the Arctic and should they drill for oil and gas?”
“A court case is under way over whether energy companies have the right to drill for gas and oil in the Arctic region.
Environmental activists, led by Greenpeace Nordic, are taking Norway’s government to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
It’s being seen as a test case for how far the Arctic environment can be protected….
…Since 2016 Norway – Western Europe’s largest oil producer – has granted a number of licences to explore for oil and gas in the Barents Sea, inside the Arctic Circle.
In 2021, six young Norwegians and two environmental groups, Greenpeace Nordic and Young Friends of the Earth, brought a case to the ECHR against the Norwegian government’s policy.
The activists said in their statement that “by allowing new drilling in a climate crisis, Norway is in breach of fundamental human rights”.
The campaigners’ case cites Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which protects the right to life, and Article 8, which protects the right to a family life and home.
“By complaining,” said campaigner Mia Chamberlain, “we might have a chance of stopping this catastrophic oil drilling.”
Lasse Eriksen Bjoern, an activist from the indigenous Sami people of northern Norway, told Reuters that drilling and the threat of pollution could endanger their way of life.
Three Norwegian courts rejected their case, but the ECHR is taking it seriously. It says the case, which the activists have billed “the people versus Arctic oil”, could be an “impact case”, meaning it could set a wide precedent for environmental protection throughout Europe….”.
“Climate group sues Dutch airline KLM over ‘greenwashing’ adverts
‘Fly Responsibly’ adverts mislead customers on the sustainability of flying with KLM, say campaigners”
“Environmental campaigners are suing the Dutch airline KLM over “greenwashing” adverts they say misleadingly promote the sustainability of flying.
Lawyers from ClientEarth are supporting Fossielvrij NL, a Netherlands-based campaign group, to bring a claim that KLM’s ad campaigns give a false impression of the sustainability of its flights and its plans to address its impact on the climate.
“KLM’s marketing misleads consumers into believing that its flights won’t worsen the climate emergency. But this is a myth,” said Hiske Arts, a campaigner at Fossielvrij NL.
“Unchecked flying is one of the fastest ways to heat up the planet. Customers need to be informed and protected from claims that suggest otherwise.”
Activists from Fossielvrij NL submitted a pre-action letter to Air France KLM, KLM’s parent company, during its AGM in Paris on Tuesday. Their legal action takes aim at KLM’s “Fly Responsibly” campaign, which presents the airline as “creating a more sustainable future”.
KLM’s campaign says it is on track to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and that it plans to introduce hydrogen and electric planes and scale up the use of synthetic kerosene from 2035.”
“Exxon must go to trial over alleged climate crimes, court rules
The ruling, and another crucial court decision this week, will force the company to face charges it lied about global heating”
“The Massachusetts high court on Tuesday ruled that the US’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, must face a trial over accusations that it lied about the climate crisis and covered up the fossil fuel industry’s role in worsening environmental devastation.
Exxon claimed the case brought by the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, was politically motived and amounted to an attempt to prevent the company from exercising its free speech rights. But the state’s supreme judicial court unanimously dismissed the claim in the latest blow to the oil industry’s attempts to head off a wave of lawsuits across the country over its part in causing global heating.
Healey’s lawsuit accuses Exxon of breaking the state’s consumer protection laws with a decades-long cover-up of what it knew about the impact on the climate of burning fossil fuels. The state also says the company deceived investors about the risks to its business posed by global heating.
Exxon claimed the lawsuit was in breach of legislation against what are known as strategic lawsuits against public participation, or Slapps, used by wealthy individuals and corporations to silence critics. The Massachusetts court ruled that anti-Slapp laws do not apply to government cases.
Healey, who is running for governor, hailed the ruling as “a resounding victory in our work to stop Exxon from lying to investors and consumers in our state”.
In March, a federal court also refused to put a block on the state’s legal action and ruled that Exxon was obliged to turn over documents to investigators.
The oil industry suffered another defeat on Monday when a federal appeals court ruled that a lawsuit by Rhode Island against 21 fossil fuel companies, including Exxon, BP and Shell, can go ahead in state court. Fossil fuel companies are attempting to move cases into what they regard as the more friendly forum of federal courts.”
“German judges visit Peru glacial lake in unprecedented climate crisis lawsuit
Rising greenhouse gases have caused Lake Palcacocha to swell in size which makes the area at risk for a devastating outburst flood”
“In a global first for climate breakdown litigation, judges from Germany have visited Peru to determine the level of damage caused by Europe’s largest emitter in a case that could set a precedent for legal claims over human-caused global heating.
Judges and court-appointed experts visited a glacial lake in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range this week to determine whether Germany’s largest electricity provider, RWE, is partially liable for the rise in greenhouse gases that could trigger a devastating flood.
Framed by majestic ice-capped peaks, Lake Palcacocha has swollen in volume by 34 times in the last five decades. A peer-reviewed study links accelerated glacial melt caused by global heating to the substantial risk of an outburst flood which could trigger a deadly landslide inundating the city of Huaraz below.
In 2017, judges in Hamm, Germany, made legal history by accepting a case brought by farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya against RWE, asking for €17,000 (£14,490) for the costs of preventing damage from a potentially devastating outburst flood from the lake….”.
Well, that didn’t take long:
“Climate activists vow to fight as new gasfield gets go-ahead in North Sea
Environmentalists threaten legal action over UK permit for Shell to develop Jackdaw field”
“Environmentalists are threatening legal action in an attempt to halt the development of a new gasfield in the North Sea that has been given the green light by the UK government.
Climate experts reacted with anger after the government announced it had given the Jackdaw field, to be developed by the oil multinational Shell, “final regulatory approval” on Wednesday.
The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Jackdaw gasfield – originally licensed in 1970 – has today received final regulatory approval. We’re turbocharging renewables and nuclear but we are also realistic about our energy needs now. Let’s source more of the gas we need from British waters to protect energy security.”…
…Ami McCarthy, a political campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said approving Jackdaw was “a desperate and destructive decision” and proved the government had no long-term plan.
“They could immediately shave billions off bills, get a grip on UK energy demand, create thousands of jobs, boost our economy, tackle the climate crisis and avoid future crises – if they just upgrade homes to be warmer and greener, and invest in clean and cheap renewable power. But instead, once again, they’re handing out lucrative permits to the likes of Shell for a project that won’t start producing gas for years, that won’t lower our bills, but will create massive emissions, causing deadly flooding and wildfires.”
She said Greenpeace believed the decision was unlawful and was considering legal action to stop it. “We will fight this every step of the way,” she said….”.
Mark, thanks for reading the Guardian, so I don’t have to.
[I am not so much allergic to adverse data as to a newspaper regressing into a propaganda campaign.]
Why would the Guardian listen to, let alone print verbatim, that wild rant from the Greenpeace representative? She certainly managed to tick most of the alarmist talking points in that hysterical torrent. It is not worth dissecting in detail, but it is actually shocking to see how low the Guardian’s standards are now. The ignorance (I don’t believe she knows enough about the subject to be consciously lying) of the Greenpeace representative is not so surprising.
JIT, Mark, Please consider all my old arguments in support of Guardian journalism repeated. You IMHO read it wrongly. I ignore anything dealing with climate or energy, knowing it will probably upset me (unless I an seeking to learn what the climate unsullied are up to). Thus I commonly read excellent journalism upon a whole variety of topics. I have tried other papers (and still read the Times on Sunday) but I find them either puerile or too right wing for my taste. You on the other hand deliberately seek out anything climatic or energetic and so get annoyed.
In fairness, Alan, although I think the Guardian’s coverage of the Ukraine war has been excellent to date, I do feel that the quality of its journalism generally has deteriorated dramatically since the days when I used to buy it regularly. The climate/environment reporting is annoying, but much of the rest is so poor it saddens me. How the mighty have fallen.
In fairness Mark what are you measuring Guardian’s journalistic decline against? Its past efforts (where I might agree with you) or other newspapers today? In which case I won’t.
Alan, I am measuring it against the mighty organ that it used to be. Its serious decline is what distresses me. I give it credit for the fact that the online version is freely available, and also for the fact that I am allowed to view it even though I use adblockers. This is unlike others, which I therefore do not view and cannot compare against. I dare say you are correct and that they are also awful. You told me the other day that I am getting old (or words to that effect). I think you may be right. 😕
Alan, there are a variety of ways of putting this, from “He that deceives me once, it’s his fault; but if twice, it’s my fault,” to Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus to “Gell-Mann Amnesia.”
I can’t trust the Guardian any more, and yes, it has been my paper of choice since I was a teenager.
There is of course a wider point, in that good newspapers can’t make a profit any more, so that of course their standards will fall. Folk are so used to finding information for free that they overlook the fact that someone has to pay for good journalism if they want good journalism. I am as guilty as the next person, but I have a feeling that the younger generation would be horrified if they were asked to pay for a subscription to a newspaper.
“EU faces legal challenge over plan to fast-track gas projects
NGOs argue priority list was drawn up without consideration of methane emissions”
“An EU plan to fast-track funding and permits for 30 gas projects is facing a legal challenge from NGOs including ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth Europe.
The European Commission has been asked to review its backing for infrastructure projects such as the EastMed pipeline, a 1,180-mile (1,900km) gas pipeline to connect offshore gas fields in Israel and Cyprus to Italy.
The EU’s executive branch has up to 22 weeks to revise its initial decision or show that it does not violate environmental law, under a new way of challenging Brussels introduced last year.
Should the commission fail to offer a satisfactory legal justification, the case could be taken to the European court of justice, potentially holding up progress on €13bn (£11bn) worth of projects.
The two NGOs, along with Food & Water Action Europe and CEE Bankwatch Network, claim the priority list of projects was drawn up by Brussels without consideration of methane emissions, a gas that experts say has a global warming potential more than 85 times higher than that of CO2 over the next 20 years.
Guillermo Ramo, a lawyer for ClientEarth, said: “This list amounts to a VIP pass for fossil gas in Europe, when we should be talking about its phase-out. The commission did not consider the impact of methane emissions derived from gas infrastructure projects, in spite of evidence that these are substantial. That’s unlawful as it directly clashes with the EU’s own climate laws and its legal obligations under the Paris agreement.”
Every two years, the European Commission compiles a list of priority energy infrastructure projects deemed beneficial to the EU’s 27 member states. Under reforms to the system, no entirely new gas projects can be listed, but projects necessary to secure supply can be included.
Included among them this year are 30 gas projects that are now eligible for streamlined environmental impact assessment, a fast-tracked permitting procedure and EU funding.”
I could just as easily have posted this information as a note to “Blood On Their Hands?”. It seems that “green” obsessives are very definitely among Putin’s Useful Idiots.
“Vanuatu calls on Australia to back its UN bid to recognise climate change harm
Pacific islands urge new Labor government to support push for international court of justice to issue climate advisory opinion”
“Australia’s new Labor government has been called on to prove its commitment to climate action and support for Pacific countries by backing a campaign led by Vanuatu to see international law changed to recognise climate change harm.
In a letter to the prime minister sent by leading Pacific and Australian NGOs, shared exclusively with Guardian Australia, the groups urged Anthony Albanese to support Vanuatu’s campaign for the international court of justice to issue an advisory opinion on the question of climate change….
…Vanuatu is seeking to get the ICJ, the world’s highest court, to issue an advisory opinion on the climate crisis.
If the campaign is successful then this would be the first authoritative statement on climate change issued by the court and could have huge implications for climate change litigation, the setting of domestic law, and international, regional and domestic disputes on climate harm.
For it to be successful in its campaign, Vanuatu must get a majority of the UN general assembly to vote in favour of presenting a question on the climate crisis to the ICJ in September. Vanuatu is currently undertaking a huge diplomatic campaign to garner support for the advisory opinion….”.
“Young people go to European court to stop treaty that aids fossil fuel investors
Five claimants aged 17-31 want their governments to exit the energy charter treaty, which compensates oil and gas firms”
“Young victims of the climate crisis will on Tuesday launch legal action at Europe’s top human rights court against an energy treaty that protects fossil fuel investors.
Five people, aged between 17 and 31, who have experienced devastating floods, forest fires and hurricanes are bringing a case to the European court of human rights, where they will argue that their governments’ membership of the little-known energy charter treaty (ECT) is a dangerous obstacle to action on the climate crisis. It is the first time that the Strasbourg court will be asked to consider the treaty, a secretive investor court system that enables fossil fuel companies to sue governments for lost profits.
“It just can’t be that the fossil fuel industry is still more protected than our human rights,” said Julia, a 17-year-old high school student from Germany, who said she was joining the legal challenge after catastrophic lethal floods came to her home region, the Ahr valley, last July.
She and her parents had to flee their home when the flood waters came. Recalling the escape with the water around her hips, she said: “It was really scary and going through the water felt like losing the ground underneath my feet.” During the floods 222 people died in Germany and Belgium. “So that’s why I decided to join this legal action, to fight against the energy charter treaty still protecting the fuel industry.”
The claimants are suing 12 ECHR member states, including France, Germany and the UK because these countries are home to companies that have been active users of the ECT charter. The German energy company RWE is suing the Netherlands for €1.4bn (£1.2bn) over its plans to phase out coal; Rockhopper Exploration, based in the UK, is suing the Italian government after it banned new drilling near the coast.
The claimants argue that membership of the ECT violates the right to life (article two) and right to respect for private and family life (article eight) of the European convention on human rights.”
I wonder how they prove that they are “Young victims of the climate crisis” or does that not little detail not matter?
“Fossil fuel industry faces surge in climate lawsuits
Number of climate-related lawsuits globally has doubled since 2015, with quarter filed in past two years”
“The world’s most polluting companies are increasingly being targeted by lawsuits challenging their inaction on climate change and attempts to spread misinformation, according to a new report.
Research by the London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment found a surge in legal cases against the fossil fuel industry over the past year – especially outside the US – and growing action in other corporate sectors.
People have been filing legal challenges on climate change grounds since the mid-1980s, but it is a strategy that has recently come into its own. The number of climate change-related litigation lawsuits around the world has more than doubled since 2015 and roughly one quarter of the 2,002 recorded cases to date were filed in the past two years alone.
Most of those lawsuits are challenging state inaction, many inspired by the landmark 2019 ruling that ordered the Dutch government to cut its emissions.
But the fossil fuel industry is increasingly within the sights of campaigners. At least 13 cases have been filed against the largest Europe-based polluters and at least two in Australia against gas company Santos. Exxon, Eni and Sasol are all also involved in challenges to government decisions about oil and gas exploration and licensing in Guyana and South Africa.”
Note the casual use of the word “pollution”. Yes, fossil fuels can and do emit real pollutants, but I’m guessing that in this context the Guardian writers means “greenhouse gases”. Another example of language no longer meaning what it used to do.
“Supreme Court limits Biden’s power to cut emissions”
“The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has lost some of its power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court represents a major setback to President Joe Biden’s climate plans.
He called it a “devastating decision” but said it would not undermine his effort to tackle the climate crisis.
The case against the EPA was brought by West Virginia on behalf of 18 other mostly Republican-led states and some of the nation’s largest coal companies.
They were challenging whether the agency has the power to regulate planet-warming emissions for state-wide power sectors or just individual power plants.
These 19 states were worried their power sectors would be regulated and they would be forced to move away from using coal, at a severe economic cost.
In a 6-3 ruling, the court sided with the conservative states and fossil-fuel companies, agreeing that Congress had not “intended to delegate… decision[s] of such economic and political significance”….”.
Ouch. I thought climate change litigation was supposed to work only one way.
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Very interesting Mark, thanks. I read it here first. (That’s because I am barely reading anything at present, due to work pressures. But helpful to know about, all the same.)
There’s lots on the EPA/SCOTUS story at the Guardian, as you might expect, including this:
“‘Condemning everyone alive’: outrage at US supreme court climate ruling
Limiting the Environmental Protection Agency at a time when fossil fuel emissions need to be curbed is ‘devastating’”
It quotes a tweet saying this:
“Six right wing extremists on SCOTUS have dismantled the EPA’s ability to fight climate change by taking away their ability to devise emission caps based on the Clean Air Act.
This is a crisis of legitimacy. Time to put everything on the table. Term limits for justices. Now.”
As for the crisis of legitimacy point, there is indeed a serious issue here. Unelected SCOTUS judges -v- unelected EPA officials? An establishment that has been quite happy for judges to rule on political topics (from Brexit in the UK to climate change in Courts worldwide) so long as the Judges shared the establishment’s world view and produced rulings they were happy with. Once Courts start opposing the establishment worldview, all hell lets loose.
I’m not pretending this stuff is easy, but we need a rational debate, not a knee-jerk one based on outrage because “my side” is suddenly losing. As it happens, the EPA decision is the first of the recent SCOTUS decisions that I am pleased about, but it is what it is, and we don’t need a debate about its place in the US constitution just because it’s adopted a right-wing position (even though that’s a position I largely dislike).
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Mark: Thomas Sowell has for many years been strong and, for me, both helpful and balanced on the place of the Supreme Court and ‘originalism’ in the US constitution. He’s not a thoughtless originalist. Of course things should change over time, based both on experience and the important principle of the independent legal rights of states. Roe v Wade was always bad law because it it needlessly trod on states’ rights to make up their own minds on the legal framework for abortion, for example. But you never hear anything like that measured point of view from the shrieking left. The same applies to the EPA’s ‘right’ (or not) to dictate to states. But even more so. From what I know I applaud both decisions. That’s only a right-wing point of view if right-wing = common sense and left-wing = unthinking emotionalism. I don’t think you’d agree about the last bit. Neither do I. But the shrieking left dominates. And I write that having still not read a word the Guardian has had to say about the EPA decision.
I don’t disagree with you overly much. I hope that I belong to the thinking left. I am tired of, and embarrassed by, the shrieking left.
“Aberpergwm: Coal mine expansion facing legal challenge”
“A legal challenge will go ahead into mine expansion plans after opponents were granted a judicial review.
In January approval was given for another 40 million tonnes of coal to be dug at Aberpergwm, Neath Port Talbot.
Campaigners said at the time they were considering legal action.
The Welsh government, which declined to comment citing the legal proceedings, has previously called for an overhaul of the Coal Authority following the dispute over the plans.
Protest group Coal Action Network has said it was preparing to go to court.
It tweeted: “We don’t know how to give up because there is everything to fight for.””
Including denying jobs to people who need them:
“The rate of claiming any benefit (which includes in work benefits) is more than 25% higher in Neath than the national average, suggesting that many people maybe under employed or on a low salary.”
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“I led the US lawsuit against big tobacco for its harmful lies. Big oil is next”
It’s possible to disagree with the author’s general approach, but still find this statement to be of interest:
“The oil and gas industry is now touting the promise of carbon capture and storage projects as a way to avoid reducing emissions. But not a single existing CCS project is viable, and no company is investing at a rate likely to make future ones viable.”
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“Environmentalists sue Dutch airline KLM for ‘greenwashing'”
“Environmental groups are suing Dutch airline KLM, alleging that adverts promoting the company’s sustainability initiative are misleading.
The groups say it’s the first lawsuit to challenge so-called airline industry “greenwashing”.
They argue that KLM adverts and their carbon-offsetting scheme create the false impression that its flights won’t make climate change worse.
But KLM says the company’s statements are “based on solid arguments”, and that it believes its adverts “comply with the applicable legislation and regulations”.
Netherlands-based group Fossielvrij NL – supported by ClientEarth and Reclame.NL – is taking aim at the company’s Fly Responsibly campaign, which was launched in 2019.
The campaign declared the airline is “creating a more sustainable future” and is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
It features a carbon offset product called CO2Zero, which KLM says funds reforestation projects or the company’s purchase of biofuels. Carbon offsets balance out greenhouse gas emissions from polluting activities.
But the groups argue the claims are highly misleading….”.
“‘Putin rubbing hands with glee’ after EU votes to class gas and nuclear as green
Parliament backs plan to classify some projects as clean power investments”
The reason I mention it here:
“Campaigners are now vowing legal action. WWF said that with its fellow NGO Client Earth it would “explore all potential avenues for further action to stop this greenwashing and protect the credibility of the whole EU taxonomy”.
Two anti-nuclear states, Austria and Luxembourg, have already announced they will take the commission to the European court of justice.”
I hope WWF and Client Earth will appreciate Russia’s help in initiating their Net Zero Carbon in almost all of Europe.
“Climate change: Campaigners hail ruling on ‘net zero'”
“Campaigners have hailed a High Court ruling that the government’s ‘net zero’ strategy breaches its obligations under the Climate Change Act.
The strategy commits the UK to slash emissions of the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet to reach ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050.
The court ruled there was not enough detail on how the target would be met.
The judgment during the UK’s first red alert for heat ordered the government to deliver a new report to Parliament.
The government said in response that its net zero strategy was still official policy and noted that the strategy itself had not been quashed by the court.
The legal challenge was brought by environmental groups Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth, Good Law Project and environmental campaigner Jo Wheatley.”
The answer, then, is to repeal the CCA.
“Indonesian islanders sue cement producer for climate damages
Claimants say they are experiencing serious negative impacts and demand Swiss-based Holcim pay compensation”
“Residents of an Indonesian island threatened by rising sea levels have begun legal action against the cement producer Holcim.
The claim for compensation, filed in Switzerland by three men and one woman, is understood to be the first major climate damages lawsuit against a cement company.
The four people say they and their families are experiencing serious negative effects from the climate crisis, and want Holcim to pay for compensation and flood defences. They also want it to cut its emissions to limit future damage.
According to Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER), an NGO supporting the case, rising sea levels around Pulau Pari have already led to increased flooding and extensive damage to houses, streets and local businesses. It says large portions of the island are likely to be submerged under water over the next few decades unless there are rapid reductions in global carbon emissions.
Edi Mulyono, one of the claimants, lost a significant amount of revenue from his guesthouse after large-scale flooding on the island in 2021. He described the situation as unjust, given that people from Indonesia have contributed very little to overall global emissions.”
“Greenpeace lodges legal bid to halt Jackdaw gas field in North Sea”
“Greenpeace has lodged a legal challenge over consent being given to develop a large North Sea gas field.
Regulators gave the go-ahead in June for Shell to develop the Jackdaw field, which lies 150 miles east of Aberdeen.
The environmental charity believes that in granting consent, the UK government failed to consider emissions from burning the gas.
The UK government would not comment on legal proceedings but said Jackdaw would boost domestic gas supply.
The Greenpeace challenge has been lodged with the Scottish courts.
It will be the second time in recent years that the group has used the law to try and overturn a decision of the UK government over the consenting of oil and gas projects.”
The Telegraph’s take on Greenpeace’s latest legal action:
“Greenpeace accused of siding with Putin and putting British security at risk
Eco activists’ opposition to North Sea drilling is making UK vulnerable, says Whitehall source”
It’s behind a paywall, but here’s an extract:
“…a Whitehall source claimed that blocking domestic oil and gas production would leave Britain more exposed to European markets and a potential squeeze by the Kremlin.
The war in Ukraine has forced European Union countries to cut their consumption of Russian gas and find alternative sources after Vladimir Putin suggested a key pipeline could be turned off.
The Whitehall source said: “Choking off domestic oil and gas does nothing to reduce demand, it simply leaves Britain more reliant on foreign imports, more vulnerable to supply shocks, and more exposed to Kremlin attempts to weaponise the gas market.
“The only people who want to stop North Sea production are Greenpeace activists and Putin.
“We support the extraction of North Sea oil and gas and will vigorously defend this decision.”…”.
“The Forest Litigation Collaborative”
“Greens” fighting “greens” through the courts, it seems:
“The Forest Litigation Collaborative (FLC) is a joint project of the Lifescape Project and PFPI.
Restoring and protecting forests is key to our climate future and indeed the web of life on earth. The FLC works internationally to pursue strategic litigation and quasi-legal approaches that promote the protection and restoration of forest ecosystems and their associated carbon sinks.
Much of our current work focuses on countering the increasing use of forest biomass for renewable energy, a trend which is destroying some of the most biodiverse and carbon-rich forests in the world while increasing net CO2 emissions.
Collaborating with other NGOs and local lawyers on a case by case basis, we use science and strategic legal action to challenge corporate and government policies that promote burning forest wood for fuel. For example, this can involve litigation arguing that new legislation or policy is contrary to climate- and biodiversity-related legal obligations, seeking to stop corporate greenwashing of bioenergy, or challenging logging permits.
Current activities include:
UK OECD Complaint Against Drax Group plc
In October 2021 the FLC joined forces with Biofuelwatch, Conservation North and Save Estonia’s Forests to file this complaint against Drax, the largest wood-burning power station in the world, under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Drax uses greenwashing to persuade the public, UK government and investors that its energy is clean and carbon neutral. This complaint aims to make Drax comply with the OECD Guidelines on responsible business conduct….”.
“Climate crisis ‘insufficient’ to halt oil and gas exploration, says New Zealand government
Despite declaring a climate emergency, government is in court defending decision to issue fossil fuel prospecting permits in Taranaki”
“New Zealand’s government has argued that the climate crisis is of “insufficient weight” to stop it issuing oil and gas exploration permits – despite declaring a climate emergency and committing to eliminate offshore exploration.
The government is in court defending its 2021 decision to allow fossil fuel companies to prospect for oil and gas in Taranaki. A group of students sued over the decision, saying the ministry failed to adequately consider the climate impact of the exploration, or give enough weight to crucial documents including advice from the climate commission and the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero By 2050 report.
Just six months before granting the permits, the government had declared a national climate emergency. The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said at the time that the declaration was “an acknowledgment of the next generation. An acknowledgment of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and do not take action now.
“It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope,” she said.”
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“Southampton Airport runway expansion will go ahead”
“Plans to extend the runway at an airport will go ahead as an attempt to appeal a court’s decision has failed.
The Court of Appeal has upheld Eastleigh Borough Council’s decision to approve plans for the expansion of the Southampton Airport’s runway by 164m (538ft).
The scheme was approved in April 2021 but campaigners claimed permission was “unlawfully granted”.
They called for a judicial review but their latest attempt has failed.
This marks the end of the legal challenge routes that could possibly be pursued against the plans, campaigners confirmed.”
Not strictly climate litigation, but I’ll leave this here, since it’s litigation that might have an impact on energy security, and the two issues are certainly linked:
“Sizewell C nuclear plant approval faces legal challenge
Together Against Sizewell C argue permission given by government for power station was granted unlawfully”
“Campaigners have begun a legal challenge against the government’s decision to give the Sizewell C nuclear power station the go-ahead amid warnings that UK nuclear plants will be on the frontline of climate breakdown.
Citing the threat to water supplies in an area officially designated as seriously water stressed, the threats to coastal areas from climate change and environmental damage, the challenge is the first step in a judicial review of the planning consent.
The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, overruled the independent Planning Inspectorate to grant permission for the new nuclear reactor in Suffolk in July. Kwarteng is pushing ahead with government plans to approve one new nuclear reactor a year as part of an energy strategy that aims to bolster the UK’s nuclear capacity, with the hope that by 2050 up to 25% of projected energy demand will come from it.
But Sizewell C has faced stiff opposition from local campaigners, and environmental groups both for its cost and the environmental impact.”
Lots of irony in those few paragraphs. Nuclear energy is “low carbon”, so citing climate change in opposition to it seems more than a little odd. It’s also strange to see people citing environmental impact when, by and large, those same people don’t give a fig about the environmental impact of wind turbines and solar panels.
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“Court upholds Lowther Hills wind farm rejection”
“The refusal of plans for a 30-turbine wind farm in the Lowther Hills has been upheld at the Court of Session.
Developers argued an error in law had been made in reaching a decision on the fate of the plans near Wanlockhead.
However, judges have now decided that the Scottish government was entitled to reject the scheme.
They concluded that although an error in law may have been made it was not material in the ultimate decision to refuse the project…
…Dumfries and Galloway Council opposed the project despite it being scaled back from 42 to 30 turbines.
The Scottish government agreed that its impact on the landscape would be “unacceptable” and refused the plans in January last year.”
Having done a lot of walking in the Lowther Hills, I am bound to agree with the conclusion. Far too much of the Southern Uplands has already been devastated by the industrial blight associated with these wretched things.
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Climate litigation fuels more litigation…
“US fossil fuel firm sues insurer for refusing to cover climate lawsuit
Aloha Petroleum’s case against AIG could set precedent as to whether firms are protected against climate damage claims”
When the litigation goes the other way, apparently it’s then an assault:
“Republicans plan legal assault on climate disclosure rules for public companies
The SEC’s proposed new rules, which would require public corporations to disclose climate-related information, have been criticized by industry groups”
“First climate lawsuit against Russian government launched over emissions
Group of activists file supreme court case demanding stronger action on meeting Paris accord goals”
Yeah, right – good luck with that.
“Government drops appeal over Net-Zero High Court ruling”
“Multimillion-pound UK road scheme facing legal action on climate grounds
Campaigners say DfT was wrong to only assess emissions against national carbon budget”
Thanks for these updates Mark. It is looking more likely that we won’t be able to stop our mad rush to N0 other than by driving into the wall.
It gets worse:
“‘Embarrassing but welcome’: Green lawyers triumph as UK admits its net zero strategy is unlawful”
“New Jersey latest state to sue oil companies over climate misinformation
The state is going after five oil companies – ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, Chevron, BP and ConocoPhillips – for their role in the climate crisis”
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, I’m pleased to see:
“‘It’s got nasty’: the battle to build the US’s biggest solar power farm
A community turns on itself over the aptly named Mammoth solar project, a planned $1.5bn power field nearly the size of Manhattan”
I could also have posted this against “Saving The Planet By Trashing It”, so great is the environmental vandalism the proposed project entails.
“UK ministers face legal challenge over North Sea oil and gas licences
Three campaign groups challenge plans to award up to 130 new licences for exploration”
“Big oil is behind conspiracy to deceive public, first climate racketeering lawsuit says
Lawyer in a civil lawsuit launched by towns in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico describes why it is using laws used to target mob bosses”
Here’s something that offers a way of fighting back against the blob:
Bill, from your link:
So for much for conspiracy theories about Big Oil when, on being taken to Court, one of the biggest oil companies meekly accepts as the starting point for the Court’s deliberations that its emissions threaten to cause dangerous climate change. There are so many points at which any lawyer worth his or her salt could challenge that assertion, and yet they didn’t.
Bill/Mark , from the link – https://climatecaseofthecentury.org/
“since this case affects Shell’s customers and suppliers worldwide, Clintel is asking people from around the world to sign a petition asking the court to consider the scientific evidence that Shell’s global emissions are not dangerous. Shell, and other companies are often terrified of adverse publicity if they challenge the popular, politically correct, and erroneous view that anthropogenic climate change is dangerous. This is despite evidence that it is not. Until Shell and other companies “grow a pair,” it is up to us to fight this nonsense. Please sign their petition”
“Why environmental disaster victims are looking to European courts
Campaigners are finding courts increasingly open to considering cases – and finding in their favour”
“Shell directors personally sued over ‘flawed’ climate strategy
Claimants ClientEarth say the oil company’s plan puts the company at financial risk as the world transitions to clean energy”
I will watch this one with interest, given that it invokes the Companies Act and is in the High Court of England & Wales. My money is on the failure of the case, but who knows? I also suspect that it’s part of a general policy by eco-activists of intimidating those who won’t voluntarily comply with their demands.
I touched on the Energy Charter Treaty in my article. The efforts to bring it down continue unabated:
“UK must quit climate-harming energy charter treaty, experts say
Secret international court system enables fossil fuel firms to sue governments for lost future profits”
“Climate campaigners sue BNP Paribas over fossil fuel finance
Action against one of Europe’s largest financial institutions is the first climate-related lawsuit against a commercial bank”
“Australia joins Vanuatu bid for international court to rule on obligation to prevent climate harm
Pacific island country will put resolution to UN general assembly seeking opinion on international legal obligations that countries have to act on the crisis”
“Plans for gas drilling in Surrey Hills to face judicial review
Local campaigners succeed in bringing legal challenge after government overruled council’s rejection of project”
N such concerns ever seem to be expressed by such people when it comes to the wishes of local people regarding wind or solar farms and “green hills” which “must be protected at all costs”. Sickening double standards in my humble opinion.
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Occasionally – very occasionally – we see litigation against climate policies:
“Airlines sue Dutch government over flight cuts”
Still, it does as seem as though the Courts are the playground of climate activists rather than the other way around, generally speaking. Where do they get all the money for the costs?
Once again, apparently some believe that the UK can “tackle” the “climate crisis”:
“Revealed: cabinet ministers warned of legal action over UK’s failure to tackle climate crisis
Senior civil servants have issued the warning as government is way behind on net zero pledges, according to leaked documents”
Worth a read, IMO, to see the extent of the net zero madness. It ends, in fine form, with what I think is a splendidly risible quote from Ed Miliband. Speaking of whom, this is absolutely cringe-worthy:
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Also on the Observer front page, and with this particularly out-there paragraph:
Odd that the Tories are under the misapprehension that there are votes in this ****.
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And this delusional commentary also in the Obs:
“The UK’s battle cries on net zero have led to nothing – and now time is running out”
The estimable Bob Ward is happy to oblige with a suitable quote.
Like I said, delusional.
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Andrew Neil’s show had John Ashworth on earlier this evening. AN asked him about Starmer’s “missions”. On Net Zero he asked Ashworth how would demand be met during calm spells – without using gas. The reply was “we’re going to invest heavily in renewables”. Totally clueless.
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I was already worried about the prospect of a Labour government, with its accelerated “plan” for “decarbonising” the electricity network by 2030. Now I’m scared!
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Far be it from me to be a glass-tiny-bit-full person about the forthcoming lab.gov but, in the corridors of the barking mad, I do think competence can help. Plus a track record of integrity in the face of greenie scams. The news that Starmer is going to make Sue Gray his chief of staff is very welcome therefore.
— John McTernan, The Spectator, 2nd March 2023
The Cash for Ash scandal in Northern Ireland was a classic green energy scam, let’s not forget. Mopping up the aftermath in the right way cost Gray a significant promotion at that time. Putting paid to Boris’s clown car also made her further enemies in exactly the right places. The sweet smell of subsidies may not get as tasty a boost as the normal venal suspects were expecting. At least a man can hope.
That’s very interesting, and it does offer some hope regarding Starmer’s determination and professionalism. However, I still see two fundamental problems. First, Starmer has committed Labour to de-carbonising the UK electricity network by 2030, which I think is unfeasible, and to my mind that casts massive doubt on his judgement. Secondly I think any cabinet he forms will be full of lightweights who can’t see what is wrong with Labour ‘s energy policy (not that this is an issue unique to the Labour party). I am afraid my glass is definitely half empty.
Mark; It’s time to look at getting a back-up genny, or at least some sort of battery system to keep the boiler running.
Apologies to Mark and other readers … I meant to include this key paragraph from McTernan, in which the Cash for Ash scandal features:
Gray knows how to add up and the hard choices that always leads to. Especially when green scammers are in da hood. I will come back to this. Note that I only cast myself as “glass-tiny-bit-full person”. Starmer has strenuously avoided the really tricky scientific question of what a woman is. For that cowardice he’s earned my lasting contempt. This is the first sliver of good news I’ve seen about what a new Lab administration might look like. Better than Miliband. And isn’t that a high bar? 😉
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No apologies necessary (to me, anyway). It is indeed a sliver of good news, though I can’t believe for one moment that she will be able to persuade Starmer to adopt a sensible energy policy. And even if she did get him to see sense, there is no prospect of getting a change of energy policy past the rest of them. They are in too deep to make a very necessary U-turn.
Slivers are all we can hope for at the moment. I think though we can divide up our sceptical Net Zero concerns into three major slivers:
1. purported attempts
and the damage that all three will eventually cause, and that crucially 1. is already causing.
To admit the futility of the UK achieving Net Zero, if such a thing were possible (see failure), because of our low percentage contributions to global emissions, when the BRIC countries and those lower down the foodchain have no real intention of reducing emissions (quite rightly) … to admit this would be a real bloody nose for poor old Ed Miliband, the engineering and planning genius who gave us the Climate Change Act, which, of course, only six Tory MPs voted against. Sue Gray I agree is not going to achieve that level of consumption of humble pie. The ‘cost of living crisis’ might though. As Rachel Reeves was saying yesterday, in Indie headline-speak Tories ‘squandering’ economic potential as cost-of-living crisis ‘number one concern’. Yep – and it becomes *your* number one concern the moment you win the next election. That will cause minds to be concentrated. But even then the main focus will be on what I’m calling purported Net Zero attempts.
As for the failure I think all of us sceptics predict this. The UK won’t achieve Net Zero, counted fairly (just outsourcing our emissions abroad clearly doesn’t count, though it does make the Chinese very happy). But that failure is also in the future. I’m not predicting that Sue Gray will turn this supertanker of stupidity and magical thinking around either.
That leaves the purported attempts to reduce emissions. That’s the damage that’s being done now. And some of those attempts are more egregiously corrupt and self-defeating than others. To spot that and to have the character to sort at least some of it out … well, who knows?
Refusal to look at cost data isn’t just a problem with journalists. But what say Starmer’s chief of staff began to insist on this, because of the cost of living crisis and because of the personal integrity she showed in public finances in Northern Ireland?
She’d make new enemies of course. But it’s a possible sliver within a sliver.
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“Climate change: Coal mine expansion challenged in court”
“New climate paper calls for charging big US oil firms with homicide”
Car Manufactures next then & others no doubt.
This is interesting: LINK. An extract:
Interesting, Robin. On this occasion, I agree with Robert Buckland:
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I fear much of the legal profession may be a lost cause. I have a close friend – a KC and retired circuit judge – who’s a lovely, cultured and highly intelligent man. But an avid Guardian reader.
There is an argument to be made that net zero is nutz because the problem of CO2
AGW has been greatly exaggerated and every time we argue that we are not to blame
for its rise or some such defensive argument, we give credence to their model-derived
– garbage in -garbage – out theory… Here’s an attack argument from Richard Lindzen.
Of course we can adopt persuasion techniques, like brevity and humour to get it across.
It’s not propaganda if it don’t lie.
More on Vanuatu and the ICJ today: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-65097831
There were whoops and cheers as the motion was voted through. My respect for Matt McGrath’s English knows no bounds:
It never ends, it seems:
“Swiss court case ties human rights to climate change”
It shouldn’t take a decent lawyer long to point out to a decent Judge that there is a problem with causation in this argument. If they cannot demonstrate that a change in Swiss government climate policy will make a measurable difference to global (and especially Swiss) climate, then it seems to me that the case falls at the first hurdle.
According to the EDGAR database (https://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/report_2020#emissions_table) the 2019 (most up-to-date figure they have) emissions of Switzerland and Liechtenstein represent 0.1% of the global title. Four years later, with the ongoing growth of developing world emissions, I imagine the proportion is even smaller now.
“Coal mine: Legal action mooted over Ffos-y-Fran ongoing opencast mining”
Note to BBC – please stop mangling the English language. One waits for a decision. One waits on a table.
“EU faces legal action after including gas and nuclear in ‘green’ investments guide
European Commission accused of acting unlawfully in two separate cases bought by environment groups”
There’s so much overlap, I could equally have posted this here:
“‘Like a dam breaking’: experts hail decision to let US climate lawsuits advance
Cities bringing climate litigation against oil majors welcome US supreme court’s decision to rebuff appeal to move cases to federal courts”
Occasionally the boot is on the other foot:
“French oil giant TotalEnergies sues Greenpeace over emissions report
Green group accused company of emitting more than it disclosed but TotalEnergies says report used dubious methodologies”
“Italian oil firm Eni faces lawsuit alleging early knowledge of climate crisis
Exclusive: Company accused of ‘lobbying and greenwashing’ for more fossil fuels despite knowing of risks”
My latest Law Society Gazette has arrived in e-form:
See pp22-3 & 27 regarding climate litigation.
Climate (-related) litigation with a difference:
“£400m claim by offshore wind firm that lost out on bid for site dismissed as irrelevant”