Given the scope of the damage from climate change, individuals, organizations, and specific jurisdictions have turned to litigation to hold industry accountable for past and continuing behavior. Such litigation is the only way those who have suffered climate-related damage can seek recourse for loss of homes, livelihoods, health, and the death and injury of loved ones. It could also have an important impact on climate change policy in the United States. Read CPR's November 2019 report on the trend toward state-based litigation.
On February 26, 2020, CPR Board Member Joel Mintz, Cynthia Rice of California Rural Legal Assistance, and Jon Mueller of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation discussed challenging low-road employers who take advantage of people who face immediate threats from extreme heat, holding polluters accountable for their contributions to the climate crisis, and the challenges of using 1970s-era laws to address community-level impacts of the climate crisis and opportunities for progress.
On March 24, 2020, webinar participants heard from from three leading experts on the climate crisis and tort law about the growing movement of local and state governments, as well as small business owners and workers, seeking climate justice in state courts across the United States. The discussion of these climate justice lawsuits considered recent, ongoing, and prospective litigation, as well as the increasingly clear science showing that the harms of climate change are largely attributable to fossil fuel producers. Presenters also examined the legal, policy, and scientific challenges for plaintiffs, which include local governments in California, Colorado, Maryland, as well as the state of Rhode Island and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.
The impacts of climate change do not fall equally. As the waves rolled over New Jersey, New York, and much of the Atlantic seaboard during Hurricane Sandy last fall, climate scientists’ austere graphs predicting severe climate impacts suddenly popped to life. With that in mind, Alice Kaswan writes, policy-makers at all levels of government, whether considering the use of existing authorities or developing new ones, should attend to seven key principles and themes.
On CPR's April 29, 2020, webinar, participants will hear from leading experts on pandemics, public health, and climate change, as part of our series of Climate Justice webinars. Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana is an expert in epidemic and disaster management, with decades of experience advising federal, state, and local officials on health security. Dr. Aaron Bernstein brings experience as a pediatrician on the front lines and cutting-edge expertise on the intersection of public health and climate change. Finally, seasoned environmental lawyer and CPR Member Scholar Daniel Farber offers expertise in legal and policy tools, such as the Stafford Act, that may be used to help protect vulnerable communities from bearing the greatest burden of the pandemic.
In April 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruled in favor of Hawaiian environmentalists who had waged a 12-year battle to ensure that sewage discharged into the Pacific Ocean via groundwater was subject to a Clean Water Act permit. CPR’s Member Scholars played important roles in convincing the Justices that we need a more scientifically relevant conception of the Clean Water Act’s coverage, and they joined key participants in the litigation in a May 28, 2020, webinar on the topic.
Big Tobacco’s Master Settlement Agreement in 1998 was the largest civil settlement in the nation’s history and a transformative moment in the industry’s control. The accord reached by 46 states, five United States territories, and the District of Columbia required tobacco manufacturers to pay the states billions of dollars annually in compensation for the public health crisis their products had created. Today, an even bigger crisis looms, with increasing demands for accountability. Over a dozen federal cases have now been filed against oil companies, seeking damages for their role in causing climate change. With one exception, the cases have been brought by states or local governments that claim they and their citizens are suffering harm from climate change.
The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) is seeking an energetic, organized, and dedicated researcher to join our staff as a Climate Justice Policy Analyst (California). We welcome candidates with a deep commitment to progressive environmental and economic policies designed to address racial inequities.
Commitments to ensure an equitable clean energy transition are gaining traction, with some states dedicating a portion of clean energy funding to historically marginalized communities and the Biden-Harris administration proposing to dedicate 40 percent of federal climate funds to achieving climate justice. These commitments are essential to realizing an energy transition for communities that would otherwise be left further behind and can help alleviate longstanding inequities. As these initiatives take shape, CPR is tapping the expertise of our climate and environmental justice scholars[BG1] and our body of work on climate justice. Over the next two years, we'll dig into the California example, researching the state's track record in implementing climate justice programs.