On June 8, OurEnergyPolicy, a non-partisan non-profit organization, assembled a panel of experts to discuss and debate the shortcomings and merits of municipal climate litigation. This event, titled “The Rise of Climate Litigation,” was moderated by Graham Erion of CarbonFree Technology and featured the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project’s Phil Goldberg, former Virginia Congressman Rick Boucher, and the Columbia University Law School Sabin Center’s Jennifer Danis.
The panel examined the motivations behind the lawsuits, the Second Circuit’s dismissal of New York City’s climate lawsuit, and the economic and environmental implications of the litigation. Citing his experience as a former member of Congress, Rick Boucher argued that courts cannot take into account all the complexities of the issue, so the most appropriate venue for addressing climate change should be the legislative process. Goldberg said that because climate change is a global problem, it will take collaboration in Congress and international agreements to meaningfully address its causes and impacts and explained why blaming American and European energy companies will not do anything to meaningfully address the climate. He pointed to press reports from last fall saying that energy companies inhospitable to America’s interests have made clear they will expand their operations to fill the void of any cuts in fuel production from the defendants in these lawsuits. These foreign entities are not targets of the litigation, have lower environmental standards, and their fuels are more carbon intensive. Overall, the discussion was highly informative and useful to those looking to better understand the pros and cons of the litigation.
Click here to watch the one-hour event or watch below.