The US Courts at an Impasse

In January 2016, 4RG commented on a lawsuit initiated by the Children’s Trusts (The Trust) to protect the rights of children against the future impacts of climate change. The Trust submitted two reasons why the Federal court should issue an order against the Government of the United States. The Government had over many years supported … Read more

Saskatchewan Court of Appeal confirms validity of Federal Law regulating GHG Emissions.

Last Friday the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal determined that the Federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was constitutionally valid.  Among other things, this Act established minimum standards for pricing carbon  across Canada. All judges agreed that climate change caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases is one of the great existential issues of our times.  Climate change … Read more

A glimmer of hope for grandchildren?

Just after a Federal Court in California dismissed a similar claim, the State of Rhode Island commenced an action against fossil fuel companies for compensation for the costs required to protect the State from rising seas and severe weather. It is unlikely that the defendants will dispute the reality of the consequences of climate change … Read more

Will courts make climate change law?

The US Houses of Congress will not in the foreseeable future compel fossil fuel companies to reduce Green House Gas emissions to lessen the serious risks caused by climate change. If elected lawmakers won’t act, what might the Courts do? In 2011, 4RG and other environmental organizations brought together a Panel of experts to analyse … Read more

Suing Obama over Climate Change

James Hansen, the well know Climate Scientist, was a party to a 2014 law suit against the State of Washington, supported by an organization “Climate Change for Families”.  Besides his granddaughter there were a number of infant plaintiffs in the case. In 2015 a judge heard the case and ordered the State to consider the … Read more

Are the tar sands ecocide?

For six decades Canadians regarded the tar sands as a natural resource to be developed.  The site of the tar sands, located in Canada’s Northern boreal forest, was very sparsely populated, mainly by aboriginal peoples. Apart from sporadic mine sites, there was no other large economic activity carried on until tar sands development arrived in the early 60’s.

Initially no one recognized the risks that could result from the development of the tar sands.  Certainly the extraction of the bitumen from the tar sands would destroy trees and the landscape, but this destruction could later be remedied over time by restoration of the forest.  It was assumed that the toxic substances released by extraction and processing would be in minimal quantities, and so absorbed in the vast space until nature had rendered them harmless. If by chance health consequences did arise, the long-suffering aboriginal peoples would be unlikely to complain until the tar sands reached the status of national resource. The generation of CO2 emissions was not foreseen as a risk until the development was well underway.

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Civil Disobedience

Over two years ago Sandeep Kembhavi, speaking on behalf of ForourGrandchildren, commented of the role of the courts as a remedy to the Government’s inaction on climate change.  The inspiration for his comments was an address by Dr. James Hansen, who stated that US judges are more likely to force the US government to act … Read more

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