Greenpeace: IPCC report is powerful legal weapon in fight against climate crisis

Finding will give polluters much less wiggle room, claims climate lawyer

Samuel Webb
Wednesday 11 August 2021 15:57 BST
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What is IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report?

A lawyer for Greenpeace has said the latest landmark IPCC report is a powerful legal weapon in the fight against the governments and businesses fuelling the climate crisis.

Louise Fournier, legal counsel for climate justice at Greenpeace International, said the UN study will help civil and environmental groups bring major polluters to account.

The IPCC report outlined how temperature rises will climb above 1.5C, beyond which the worst impacts of global warming will be felt, without rapid action to deliver deep emissions cuts.

Ms Fournier said the report will help in two vital areas – to what extent the greenhouse gases causing climate change are the defendant’s responsibility, and to what extent are the injuries and harms are attributable to the defendant.

Louise Fournier, legal counsel for climate justice at Greenpeace International (Greenpeace)

She said: “It is clear to the courts that the IPCC has the best available science.

“The report shows the current impacts of harm and what people around the world have been experiencing for years.

“The report also demonstrates there is no more delay possible and the environmental impacts are irreversible. It helps establish causation and defendants will not be able to claim ignorance or delay action.”

It also provides a minimum benchmark – 1.5C – for governments and businesses to adhere to.

The report, as well as recent victories in court, will inspire people around the world to launch legal battles against polluters, Ms Fournier added.

“We definitely expect to see more lawsuits from impacted people, including Greenpeace,” she said.

“The report is such a strong tool because it confirms links between carbon pollution and worsening weather events.

“Governments and corporations will have no choice but to act in line with science and act on their human rights obligations.”

Last month, Greenpeace threatened to take the government to court if it approved drilling at a new oil field in Scotland.

Despite hosting this year’s Cop26 climate conference, ministers are considering green-lighting the gas and oil project at Cambo, a North Atlantic site west of Shetland.

If given the go-ahead, a further 150-170 million barrels are due to be extracted from the North Sea bed at the site, which is expected to operate until 2050.

The new wells being proposed at Cambo will only go ahead if the government awards a permit, with the oil field having already been granted a licence by ministers in 2001.

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