Is 2024 The Tipping Point?

June 23, 2024

One observer has characterized 2024 as the "tipping point" for climate litigation, and Vermont's recent passage of its Climate Superfund law fits into this story line. Attribution science is often characterized as a game changer for climate change litigation. Many believe it will ultimately lead to climate change liability for fossil fuel interests.

But how does the math work?

💲 What is the magnitude of climate damages that fossil fuel interests might be found liable for?

💲 What could fossil fuel interests plausibly pay before declaring bankruptcy?

💲 Given the potential economic implications of such bankruptcies, will judges and juries be willing to go there? 

When I do the math, even conservatively, the numbers don't add up. Potential liabilities are in the trillions, while potential ability to pay is in the hundreds of billions. I guess one could come up with an opiod-like settlement where everyone gets something -- but that would hardly be a game-changer for climate change.

I've been thinking about this for a while and have drafted a Mini-Course as part of Your Climate Toolbox. I would welcome feedback and critiques. 

Check out the Mini-Course here.

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