- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.
Climate-related litigation has had a major impact on public policy. The most promising avenue for legal action at present is the use of common law suits in state courts to force fossil fuel companies to compensate property owners and taxpayers for present and future climate related damages. Accordingly, we have been consulting with the lawyers who have brought the first such cases (e.g., San Francisco, New York, etc.), and we are co-counsel representing several municipalities in the first such case to be brought in a "purple state" (Boulder County and San Miguel County, along with the city of Boulder). This is the first case where the impacts beyond sea-level rise, e.g., drought, wildfires, flooding from extreme precipitation, etc., will be front and center.
Damages from climate change are driven by industrial emission, and the products manufactured by the oil industry are the source of much of those emissions. The costs are imposed on people around the globe, and those damages will only get larger and more severe over time. Climate change-related litigation risks have the potential to act as both a material driver, and consequence, of the energy transition. Climate litigation risks are material for potential defendants. First, claims have a direct impact on earnings and liabilities. Thus, risk exposure should factor into discount rates, and as a key driver in ratings metrics or outlooks. Also, regulatory scrutiny can cause significant reputational damage, loss of political/social capital, market exclusions and restriction of insurances, and provide a platform for subsequent private damages settlements. Finally, emerging claims patterns can drive industry-wide strategic pivots as regulators tighten rules and disclosure requirements.
The scope of this project is national. We are co-counsel in a case filed Colorado state court by Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the city of Boulder against ExxonMobil and Suncor. We have also been consulting with the lawyers who have brought the first such common law cases (e.g., San Francisco, New York, etc.), and we are consulting with several other local and state level governments that may bring about their own cases in other areas of the country.
We will also continue an "eminent domain litigation project" to help protect landowners’ property rights from abuse by oil and gas pipeline companies seeking to take their land for their projects.
(Check sent: 8/27/2018)