• It all makes work for the working (in legal services) man to do!


    The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/01/us-cities-heat-baltimore-suing-oil-gas) reports that the present extreme weather in the USA has produced a crop of more than twenty lawsuits against what are know known as “fossil fuel companies”. It is claimed by the plaintiffs that these businesses should be held responsible for such costs because they knowingly contributed to the climate crisis. The city of Baltimore’s case is one of these suits brought by a range of other cities, states and counties that are suing the major oil conglomerates for driving the climate crisis and offloading the financial burden onto the American public.

    It is this continual running through the gauntlet of continuing litigation that is forcing the oil companies into their present changes of direction. You see, the problem is this: That the oil companies have to win all the cases brought against them. This means that any victory by the US plaintiffs would have to be appealed right through to the Supreme Court (of the USA). The oil companies know that any defeat will spell disaster for them, their employees and shareholders.

    The ONLY sensible way out of this situation is for the major powers to reach an agreement in the form of a treaty limiting the damages incurred by any corporate entity to a set level (as a percentage of one of or a combination of it’s metrics).

    The argument that the oil companies could deploy for this would be to use the arguments of their opponents against them. The greens regard (correctly) the environment as a global issue and therefore requires global solution. Which in this particular case means an agreed formula to arrive at a (necessarily low and affordable) compensation figure for the “fossil fuel companies” to pay – to a body such as the UNO.

    There is of course a major problem to this: the United States Senate two thirds of whose members must ratify any treaty signed by the POTUS. This is VERY difficult to achieve and as a result US administrations are keen to suggest that in place of a treaty an “executive agreement” is agreed to. This however is not binding and any future president can scrap it. This is what has happened with the Iran nuclear deal.

    The alternative is not only for the oil companies to divest themselves of their oil assets but to reincorporate the offending activities in countries beyond the reach of US litigants – which means China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States (take your pick).

    Until this issue is settled the ONLY people making money out of this are the lawyers!