The Nation: Wer Klimawandel stoppen will, muss die fossile Industrie verklagen

In einem sehr lesenswerten aktuellen Artikel mit dem Titel „Want to Stop Climate Change? Take the Fossil Fuel Industry to Court“ in The Nation schreibt Dan Zegart, der sich viel mit der Tabakindustrie beschäftigt hat:

Some legal analysts believe that fossil fuel producers could be vulnerable to fraud or civil conspiracy charges if it can be legally proved that companies like ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal spent millions funding climate-change-denying organizations like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Greening Earth Society, while internally acknowledging that the science supporting anthropogenic (i.e., human-caused) climate change was a settled issue. That could put Big Carbon in roughly the same position as Big Tobacco was in the early 1990s, when cigarette makers continued to cultivate public doubt about their product’s harmfulness long after they had accepted that it was addictive and deadly. As the tobacco suits lurched forward, documents—as well as some infamous congressional testimony—proved the industry’s bad faith, swaying public opinion against tobacco. It was that, along with the massive wave of lawsuits by all fifty state attorneys general, that helped persuade Congress to bring the cigarette makers under the federal regulatory umbrella.

Zegart nimmt Bezug auf die Recherche von Richard Heede und dem Climate Justice Programme zu den sog „Carbon Majors“ – 90 Firmen, die zusammen für über zwei Drittel der globalen Emissionen seit Beginn der Industrialisierung verantwortlich sind. Diese Nachricht ging zwar im Trubel rund um den Klimagipfel in Warschau in der allgemeinen Öffentlichkeit etwas unter – nicht aber in den Diskussionen und Aktivitäten von Anwältinnen und Anwälte:

One precedent that’s being used is the case of the Federated States of Micronesia, which in 2009 filed a request with the Czech Republic for a “transboundary environmental impact assessment.” The Czechs were about to rubber-stamp an extension of the outdated Prunerov coal-fired power plant. By then, Micronesia had already seen record high tides wipe out food crops, power plants and homes—not to mention two small islands. “The Federated States of Micronesia is seriously endangered by the impacts of climate change,” the Micronesians wrote to the Czechs. “Prunerov is one of the biggest single industrial sources of CO2 emissions in the world,” and “the commissioning or retrofit of any large coal power plant could play a relevant role in the destruction of the entire environment of our state.” Though the plant was ultimately recommissioned, Kristin Casper, an Amsterdam-based Greenpeace lawyer who worked with the Micronesians on the case, considers it a model for similar transboundary actions now in the works. “It created quite a stir,” she recalls. “The Czech environmental minister had to resign. He was under such pressure to give approval to the coal plant, but the Micronesian intervention made it so high-profile they ended up having to make significant adjustments.”

Der Nation Artikel beschreibt sehr schön und eindrucksvoll einige mehr dieser vergangenden und laufenden Klagen gegen die fossile Industrie und sagt auch, warum wir uns in Zukunft auf deutlich mehr freuen können:

Whether or not a judge ever orders any fossil fuel company to pay for climate change, some environmentalists see the lawsuits as tools to raise public awareness of corporate responsibility for the climate crisis. That could help change the debate from whether it’s the developed or the undeveloped world that should shoulder the costs of giant storms and flooded cities to whether the bill should be paid by the corporations that continued to damage our climate system long after they knew what was happening.