Thirty years ago Dr. James Hansen, then a NASA scientist, was one of the earliest researchers to sound the warning bell about climate changes so severe they would severely impact life on earth.
In the intervening years, a very independent Dr. Hansen has continued his research and issuance of sober warnings. Now he is advising the courts be used as a tool to lessen negative impacts from climate change. Jim
“Former NASA scientist James Hansen says the litigate-to-mitigate campaign is needed alongside political mobilisation because judges are less likely than politicians to be in the pocket of oil, coal and gas companies.
“‘The judiciary is the branch of government in the US and other countries that is relatively free of bribery. And bribery is exactly what is going on,’ he told the Guardian on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Bonn…
“He does not mince his words. The international process of the Paris accord, he says, is ‘eyewash’ because it fails to put a higher price on carbon. National legislation, he feels, is almost certainly doomed to fail because governments are too beholden to powerful lobbyists. Even supposedly pioneering states like California, which have a carbon cap-and-trade system, are making things worse, he said, because ‘half-arsed, half-baked plans only delay a solution.’
For Hansen, the key is to make the 100 big ‘carbon majors’ – corporations like ExxonMobil, BP and Shell that are, by one account, responsible for more than 70% of emissions – pay for the transition to cleaner energy and greater forests. Until governments make them do so by introducing carbon fees or taxes, he says, the best way to hold them to account and generate funds is to sue them for the damage they are doing to the climate, those affected and future generations.
Hansen is putting his words into action. He is involved in a 2015 lawsuit against the US federal government, brought by his granddaughter and 20 others under the age of 21. They argue the government’s failure to curb CO2 emissions has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.”