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.
Writing for Just Security Rebecca Bratspies discusses efforts by Senate Republicans to amend the law to allow lawsuits against China related to the spread of the coronavirus, noting that conservatives have in the past been generally hostile to tort litigation in the past. She goes on to discuss the implications of the Trail Smelter Arbitration between Canada and the United States as it relates to coronavirus disputes.