On March 21 of this year, something unusual took place at a U.S. courthouse in San Francisco: a group of scientists and attorneys provided Federal District Judge William H. Alsup with a crash course in climate science. The five-hour tutorial was ordered by Judge Alsup in connection with a lawsuit that had been filed by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco (“the Cities”) against the world’s five largest producers of fossil fuels. The central issue in the case is whether the energy companies can be held liable for continuing to market fossil fuels long after they learned that such fuels contribute to climate change. As you might expect, the lawsuit has attracted a great deal of attention. There are billions of dollars at stake in this case alone, and if the Cities secure a favorable verdict, hordes of public and private plaintiffs will surely follow suit. The case thus carries the potential to reallocate some of the massive social costs associated with climate change.
Climate Change Litigation in the Federal Courts: Jurisdictional Lessons from California v. BP,
Mich. L. Rev. Online
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr_online/vol117/iss1/2