Nov. 17, 2021
Professor publishes chapter in climate change law handbook
Professor Sharon Mascher has published "Towards a civil liability regime for climate-related loss and damage" in the new handbook, which offers an insightful review of how legal systems – whether domestic, international or transnational – can and should adjust to fairly and effectively support loss and damage (L&D) claims in climate change law.
According to Sharon, attempts to establish an international mechanism to compensate those countries most vulnerable to climate change have been a feature of the international discourse since negotiation of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began. However, as calls to advance the discussion of nation-state based responsibility within the UN system continue to go unheeded, attention is increasingly focusing outside the UN system to consider a range of potential actors to shoulder this responsibility. Several high-profile pieces of strategic domestic litigation seek to fix liability on a handful of private corporations with historically high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Without doubting the potential for plaintiffs to succeed before some domestic courts, the urgency of the situation has led to nascent calls in the academic literature for legislatures to intervene and clarify, or perhaps change, the private liability rules that apply to climate-related loss and damage.
Sharon's chapter examines the role that legislation can play in clarifying, altering or perhaps creating a civil liability regime for climate-related loss and damage drawing on existing commentary around the creation of a civil liability legislation to considers its key features. The chapter concludes with a consideration of the short-comings of bottom-up legislative approaches and suggests the need to push towards an international civil liability regime in relation to climate-related loss and damage to harmonize civil liability rules.