Climate experiments are lost for failing to use science in court


Not only does the climate crisis mean that in the medium term thousands of Earth’s ecosystems will be destroyed (with the massive loss of biodiversity that would ensue), or that sea levels will rise enough to force hundreds of thousands of people to migrate inland. The next 100 years, or countless crops all over the world, due to rising temperatures, will not be viable in areas where there was no problem.

Climate change already has repercussions, today, and these are primarily (and most importantly) causing loss of human life, but also Financial losses amounting to billions of euros. There are governments and companies directly responsible for these effects. But when those affected bring those responsible to trial, their misuse of science means that the perpetrators are not “paid.”

“In recent weeks, successful lawsuits in the Netherlands or Germany have prompted the courts to seek compensation”

This is what a group of researchers did Oxford university in the United Kingdom and was published in New study in the scientific journalnatureThe study authors explain that the problem is that Prosecutors have at their disposal a large body of scientific evidence that they do not use. To do their scientific work, the researchers analyzed 73 of the most recent climate crisis lawsuits that have been filed in the world and all of which have litigants or have been used as evidence. Outdated scientific papers أوراق Or, directly, they didn’t use any of it.

According to investigators, in most cases, prosecutors did not, at any time, attempt to Assigning responsibility for climate change تغير In the events that led to litigation, which is absolutely necessary, since not all of these weather events occur because of the climate crisis.

Science is the best ally of climatic causes (EFE)

But, even in fewer cases, indictments did not provide evidence linking defense emissions to plaintiffs’ injuries or financial losses. In the 73% of casesThe prosecution did not present the judge There is no type of scientific study In 48% of cases related to extreme weather events (caused by greenhouse gas emissions) the plaintiffs He blamed climate change without providing any evidence scientific

long-term problem

From 1986 to 2020, implemented globally More than 1,500 climate-related lawsuitsAnd the rhythm they follow does not stop increasing. Some notorious cases, such as the case of the (Native American) population of the small population of Kefalina, off the coast of Alaska, against ExxonMobil Corp (and many other oil companies like Chevron, Shell or BP) in 2008 didn’t come to fruition, investigators explained, because prosecutors couldn’t Provide scientific evidence for causation (present in large quantities), which are necessary to gain climatic judgments.

Kefalina Island seen from the air in 2015 (Reuters)

Sea-level rise, combined with erosion from extreme weather events that hit the small village of Kefalina, is forcing the indigenous people to relocate to other areas, becoming climate refugees, while comet They are absolved of any kind of responsibility.

Science is the best defense

Legal confrontations due to the climate crisis in which plaintiffs are prepared (not only legally, but also scientifically) can Promote change at scale. As the study’s lead author explains, Robert Stewart Smith: “In recent weeks, successful lawsuits in the Netherlands or Germany have prompted the courts to seek compensation from companies and countries. Thus, these companies or countries have Tighten your climate goals and actions. The power of climate litigation is clear.”

One of the clearest examples of how plaintiffs can benefit from science is the case of harm caused by Hurricane Sandy that hit the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in the US in 2012. Thanks to a study published in May of this year, both litigants and scientists were able to Assessment of the resulting economic damage for climate change In this extreme event.

Insurance and climate crisis: Who will pay the bill for extreme events?

Eva M Roll

According to the study authors, of the $62.7 billion in economic damage, 13% of it (a total of 8.1 billion) Direct responsibility for climate change.

Although the major world powers implement new legislation To face the climate crisis, even if we achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, extreme events It will occur more frequently and will be more intense, Which, in all likelihood, will have an economic impact on thousands of people due to climate change. Therefore, when taking our case to court, it is recommended to do so Backed by science.

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