The coming tide of international climate lawsuits.

A journalistic collaboration on climate change.
April 20 2010 9:42 AM

The People v. CO2

The coming tide of international climate lawsuits.

Also from the Climate Desk: Doug Kendall and Hannah McCrea on whether federal courts can help tackle global warming.

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Hauling global companies to court would be an audacious gamble for tiny nations that rely heavily on foreign aid. "There are huge political risks," said Stuart Beck, Palau's ambassador to the United Nations. But with world leaders already downplaying hopes for a binding treaty at the climate talks in Mexico this November, vulnerable countries are contemplating which is the larger hazard: angering their donors or waiting patiently until the only aid they require is a bulk purchase of plane tickets. As attorney Pawa puts it, "Countries are literally being driven out of existence—they are going to turn to whatever systems they can. Right now they're looking to require developed nations to reduce emissions. In the future, I think they'll be looking for compensation."

This story was produced by Mother Jones for the Climate Desk collaboration.

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* Correction, April 21:The article originally attributed the pollution from Prunéřov power station to "its 300-feet-high cooling towers," as opposed to its 900-feet-high smokestack. Cooling towers do release water vapor, which is itself a greenhouse gas. But those emissions are not considered significant with respect to globalwarming. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Rachel Morris is the articles editor in the Washington bureau of Mother Jones.