Tortious liability for greenhouse gas emissions? Climate change, causation and public policy considerations
AbstractThe purpose of this paper is to assess the potential legal issues in establishing liability for large-scale emitters of greenhouse gases, in Australia, for resulting harms caused from changes to the climate system. This paper assesses the legal principles and policy issues associated with potential negligence claims against industrial emitters in Australia such as large coal mines and coal-fired electricity plants. This paper identifies a range of significant obstacles in successfully bringing claims in negligence for climatic harms. These include issues in foreseeability, causation and the operation of public policy principles. It is concluded that the distribution of risk from climate change, and associated allocation of liability, is more appropriately addressed through consistent, national legislation rather than through the ad hoc adaptation of the common law.
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