Accountability and Responsibility
Who Should Be Liable for Global Warming?
No one has a right to impose a cost on others. But polluters impose costs on others, so what should happen next? A number of recent law suits are seeking reparation payments from the polluters who cause global warming. Insurance companies are worried, because as long as the U.S. government insists that global warming doesn't exist, they find it difficult to charge premiums based on it.
The government of tiny Pacific island state Tuvalu said it planned to launch lawsuits within a year against the United States and Australia. Both have rejected the Kyoto climate pact.Case Two:
The country, which is only four metres (13 ft) above sea level at its highest point, faces oblivion within 50 years if the scientists' gloomy scenarios prove right and global warming causes the sea to rise. Tuvalu is blaming the polluters.
The city of Boulder, Colorado and two environmental groups launched a suit against U.S. government finance agencies for bankrolling fossil fuel projects overseas.Case Three:
The suit has been filed against two U.S. government agencies – the Export Import Bank (ExIm) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Ex-Im and OPIC are taxpayer funded agencies that provide corporate welfare to U.S. corporations for overseas projects that commercial banks deem too risky.
The plaintiffs said the extra emissions of heat-trapping greenhouses gases would exacerbate global warming and the resulting climate changes would damage American farms and property.
After the city council voted to join the lawsuit, Boulder Mayor Will Toor said, "All of the work that the city of Boulder does to maintain the quality of life for our residents will be negatively impacted by the detrimental effects of climate change. We believe that this lawsuit is one way force the federal government to start paying attention to this critical issue."
Involved in the above suit is a North Carolina couple who fear their retirement property will be lost to storm surges, erosion and the rising sea level; one of the largest maple syrup producers in Vermont who believes his business will be ruined as maple trees disappear from that region; and a marine biologist whose life’s work is in jeopardy because coral reefs he has spent a lifetime studying are disappearing at an alarming rate due to bleaching from rising ocean temperatures.Case Four:
"We’re nervous about climate change—if we have no maples, we have no farm income and the value of our land will be devastated," said FoE/Greenpeace members Arthur and Anne Berndt.
The New York attorney general's office is studying the possibility of suing greenhouse gas polluters, along the lines of the successful litigation that was brought against the tobacco industry in the 1990s.
What makes the "Polluter Pays Principle" tick? Decide for yourself here!
Is "globalization" accidentally bringing polluters within the reach of their victims? Will the courts serve justice? What's your opinion? Tell your views to The Progress Report:
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