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ICYMI: MAP Special Counsel Phil Goldberg: “We Can’t Litigate Our Way Out of Climate Change”

Recently, the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project’s (MAP) Special Counsel Phil Goldberg sat down for a one-on-one interview with E&E News reporter Jennifer Hijazi to discuss the latest on climate litigation, the misuse of the public nuisance theory and how litigation interferes with the innovation needed to address climate change.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

  • “I think a lot of the activity around climate litigation is a clear indication that dealing with climate change is an important issue that a lot of people want to figure out and focus our policymakers on. The problem is the courtroom is not the place to do that. The place to do that is in Congress, and the administration, and the federal agencies. . . . But at the end of the day, we can’t litigate our way out of climate change. We have to innovate our way out. We have to have smart policies that are going to incentivize companies to spend the money developing the technologies of tomorrow that are going to help us get out of climate change.”
  • “In the last 20 years, there’s been an increased focus on trying to turn public nuisance into a super-tort that would overcome the traditional products liability law and the law that’s applied to the activities of manufacturers as a way to subject them to liability for any impacts of their products — no matter whose fault it is, whether or not there’s any causation. They thought if they can loosen the bounds of public nuisance to apply to these areas, they can get around all of the traditional tort law. And courts, by and large, have said, ‘No, you can’t.’”
  • “The litigation is inherently political. It is a decision by these communities to decide who they want to blame for climate change, even though climate change is a shared responsibility that all of us contribute to. . . . And if this litigation makes manufacturing and consuming energy more expensive in this country, it’s going to drive manufacturing out of the United States and into places that have much worse regulations when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. We can make things cleaner here, and by pushing all of that to other countries, we’re going to do more harm than good.”

As Goldberg noted, “people are frustrated” with the lack of action on climate change, but the solution isn’t baseless lawsuits. Instead, local officials should work together with manufacturers while Congress considers opportunities to enact effective, meaningful solutions to this global issue.

The full interview can be found here.