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Curtis Jay Correll

It seems that although we've made some small steps forward, international environmental regulation has failed to keep up with today's rapid destruction of the environment. Past efforts to curb the damage, such as the UNFCCC at the Earth Summit in 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 seem only to have given a token effort to limit the destruction of our environment. Further, for each small step forward, there seem to be more steps back. On a national scale, the refusal of the courts to deal with many environmental liability and damage suits forces the nation to wait for Congress to pass laws before corporations can be held accountable for some of their damages. On an international scale, the powerful, polluting nations seem able to indefinitely put down the poorer nations whose climates are deteriorating in favor of protecting their heavy industry and their bottom line.
There is one encouraging sign for the future though. If countries begin suing others over environmental damages in international courts, there could be a whole new level of accountability within both the international and national systems. This seems a bit idealistic, but if scientists can find a way to measure more specifically the damage from individual countries, this could soon be a reality. Richard Lord's testimony seems to be an encouraging bit of news for the future of climate litigation and the future of the world. If scientists gain the ability to more accurately attribute damage to a cause, then we can perhaps finally solve this issue.

Cort Hammond

In theory, this sort of accountability for developed nations (who have been the largest cumulative emitters of CO2) would promote justice and encourage polluting countries to curb their emissions in the face of future litigation. However there are several problems with this. One of the chief weaknesses with the Kyoto Protocol is the catch-22 between environmental justice and emissions reduction. Under the Protocol, developing nations are not subject to binding agreements to emission reductions. This seems fair when you consider that these nations have only recently started to contribute to climate change and that they need cheap energy to improve the quality of life for their people. However, this means that that a large portion of the world is exempted from emission reductions. The exemption of China, India, and Brazil is especially contentious and is a major reason for the US's failure to ratify the treaty. Clearly, China (for example) cannot be considered a strictly developing nation because there is such a wide difference between the industrial and farming areas; the poverty of the people doesn't mean that emissions are low. There is a legitimate fear that if the US cut emissions these cuts would be negated by China's rapid industrialization.
Since climate change is an immediate global problem, the only solution is to agree on across-the-board reductions. This would unite countries rather than divide them and would ensure that there are no free-riders. Meanwhile to ensure environmental justice is served, developed countries would have to provide developing countries with technical and financial aid (perhaps with funds raised from emissions taxes). This way, they would be compensated for their late arrival to industrialization and polluting.

While the legal approach may end of being necessary to solving the climate crisis, I fear that the solution would be messy and imperfect and could possibly alienate countries. Hopefully, it will be recognized that all nations need to make percent reductions while developed nations do owe undeveloped nations more of a helping hand; we can't just decide to reap the benefits and shut the doors of industrialization on most of the world.

As a side-note, I was interested to read that judges ruled that climate change is a political issue, not a legal one. This demonstrates the extent to which science has been skewed. Leaving climate change to politicians is not different than leaving any other decision involving health to them (as the article says, it calls to mind the tobacco cases of the 1990's).

Callie Deddens

In today’s litigious society, it does not surprise me at all that we should look to the courts to help curb carbon emissions. In the face of scientific evidence it seems impossible that a corporation or country could deny that their actions contribute to climate change and as the article states, courts may soon find that “culpability means liability.” Furthermore, the article points out clearly the fact that numerous political endeavors have been unsuccessful. Whenever a new initiative is undertaken it is met with great fanfare but once the idea loses steam we seem to return to square one. This is illustrated by the failure of mitigation and adaptation attempts. Thus, in order to address climate change the next logical step might be to take the fight to the court systems. However, though I can’t claim to know a lot about legal proceedings it’s obvious that this would be an enormous undertaking. Given the dismal history of cases taken up against corporate polluters I’m not sure that prosecuting whole countries is truly possible. The idea itself is promising but in execution it might fail.

Juan Polanco

I like the idea of allowing private individuals to sue corporations for their effects on climate. I believe that this would be more useful in reducing the impact on the environment than allowing politics to solve the problem. By allowing individuals to sue corporations, these companies will most likely make a larger effort trying to damage the environment least they can. Being able to sue them will cause corporations to be much more careful because if they make a mistake or purposely damage the environment, they could end up paying the whole cost of that damage. I think this would be a new and improved way of internalizing the climate change externality and would be much more efficient than a policy that wold only minimally reduce the emissions of these corporations.

Shawn Swaney

I think Callie makes a great point in referencing the fact that our society today is incredibly litigious. Everywhere you look it seems like there is some new law being passed. It doesn't surprise me that the US would, as the article suggests in the third paragraph, try to keep talks away from compensation and litigation. In my opinion, the US is trying to steer talks away from this, as we would have the most to lose by litigation being put in place. I found this article, http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2012/07/02/global-carbon-dioxide-emissions-facts-and-figures/, which talks about how the US is the biggest contributor of CO2 emissions worldwide (per capita). Litigation or compensation would seemingly put the US into a bigger financial hole. I'm pro-USA, but there's only so far that our "all talk and no action" strategy about improving environmental quality can go.

Scott Diamond

Although I agree with the previous commenters’ statements that polluting countries and corporations should be held accountable for their contribution to the global climate problem, I have serious doubts as to the effectiveness of an international legal system in appropriately placing blame on any particular country or corporation. Pearce notes that to legally establish liability a claimant country would not only have to show that the pollution of an accused country contributed to climate change; instead, a claimant would have to provide a solid link between individual extreme weather events and the emissions from the accused. Since the science behind attribution appears to still be in its relative infancy, the existing legal landscape places developing countries seeking redress on an enormous uphill battle in their pursuit for compensation for losses and damages. At this point, such legal proceedings between developing nations and polluting countries would be akin to pitting David against Goliath. Polluting nations (namely the US and China) have a vast majority of resources at their disposal to fight against legal actions against them especially when compared to that at the disposal of the potential claimants, poorer developing nations. Regardless of the evidence provided against the accused parties, I fail to believe that developing countries will be met with much success by utilizing legal avenues to seek compensation in the near future.

Austin Pierce

Several things about this idea give me pause. First, I am not predisposed to accept that the courts are the place to address any such issues. Not only does that add to the administrative costs of addressing these problems, but it also is a command-and-control framework that will make the overall socials costs of such a policy more weighty than is necessary. I would think that a set of pollution taxes would be better for addressing this issue, as you eliminate the court-administrative taxes and reduce the policy costs.
However, even here, the funds should be directed towards a direct production mechanism, or things will only be kept from becoming worse. Applying the taxes in such a way would both remove a negative and introduce a positive to the equation, leading to better environmental stewardship.
This leads to a third issue I have with the court approach, which is that climate issues are a collective issue. Although there are some variations of results, the overall damages apply to everyone. Scott addresses this in his post when he mentions what Pearce has recognized as necessary for liability. Unless the direct causality could be proved, the liability of any particular country or firm is virtually evanescent.

Wen Xiang Chuah

Although this proposal may have been initiated with the best of intentions, as others above have mentioned, it has approached the issue of emissions controls from a distinctly lopsided perspective. As economists, we often discuss globalization and free trade in terms of comparative advantage, noting that developed countries often provide the ‘brains’ of an operation, and developing countries (such as China) provide the ‘brawn’, with their inexhaustible (relatively) supply of cheap labour. However, any attempts to hold nations liable for greenhouse emissions contradicts the current model of the world economy – the developed nations have shifted their production centers (and with it, a large portion of the emissions that can be attributed to them) into the developing nations. Minutiae on distributive formulae – whether by population, landmass, or some other method – only further adds to the structural issues faced by the proposed agreement. Corporate responsibility, however, may prove to be a more viable avenue of pursuit – as currently discussed in class, holding private producers liable for damaging the ‘commons’ holds much potential to align private costs with social costs. However, I remain skeptical that American political environment (because really, the US has historically proven to be the largest and most vocal opponent to the formulation of a true response to environmental issues. See: Kyoto Protocol) is conducive towards a commitment to basically coerce the private sector.

Marissa Gubler

According to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, the 5 highest emitters of carbon dioxide are China, United States, India, Russia, and Japan (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/climate-change/global-emissions.html). If the rate of global climate change is to be slowed down, then at the minimum all these countries need to agree to lower their emissions. However, it would be optimal to have a worldwide agreement to cut down CO2 emissions by a percentage worked out in scientific models, as other developing nations are steadily increasing their greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, since there are many contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, there will be high transaction costs and compromise will likely be hard to reach. So, that no nation is at a production or economic disadvantage due to lowering their carbon emissions, a worldwide limit on greenhouse gas emissions will help to even the playing field. One way to allocate the amount of carbon emissions each country can produce would be to scientifically find the optimal level of carbon emissions and then allocate emissions based on each country’s percentage of the world’s population. However, a population based allocation may not be realistic for some countries, so a goods production based allocation may be another useful metric. No matter, how one puts it, it will be difficult to efficiently divide limits of carbon emissions.

Switching over to the legalities of global climate change and damages, such as, increased flooding, disappearance of dry land, and loss of biodiversity, I feel it is extremely hard to prove that one nation or one company or a group of them are completely responsible for adverse effects of global climate change as global warming is not a localized problem. Greenhouse gas emissions from one part of the world affect the world as a whole, and do not just affect the surrounding area. Also, global climate change has been aggravated over time, especially since the Industrial Revolution, by multiple countries and companies, though some entities have filled more carbon sinks than others. Yet, the problem still exists as to how to compensate people adversely affected by global climate change. Perhaps a worldwide fund could be created from worldwide carbon emissions taxes to be used to compensation those who are receiving the costs of carbon emissions. The worse thing anyone can do in this situation is nothing; the world needs to take note of the increasing threat of global climate change and take action to curb it.

Matthew Thomas Howell

It is interesting how nations and companies acknowledge the pollution they generate but then fail to realize and take responsibility for their actions. While international emissions talks and pledges are great in theory, they continue to utterly fail with respect to environmental cleanup. Just as cases brought in US courts and international courts have failed, I believe it will be some time before the courts begin making rulings concerning pollution and its effects. While scientific research has made it is nearly impossible for one to argue that certain pollutants do not have adverse effects on the environment, companies and nations will continue to deny that they are the sole cause or link to such damages. For example, a person filing for damages caused by pollution induced asthma would need to seek damage payments from all surrounding companies that emit the related pollutants. If the claimant did not file against all companies, the defense would likely be able to address the lack of causality since they are only 1 of many polluting companies within the area. The article does talk of eventual success in court coming from blaming companies or nations for not informing persons of the possible damages from their actions. While this brings to mind the link to tobacco, I believe the two are different. Cigarettes can be directly linked, according to most scientists, to lung cancer and other health problems. However, damages to the environment by harmful emissions are brought about by the collective pollution of many companies and nations, rather than the one brand of cigarettes a consumer smokes. The futuristic research of attributing pollution with actual causality seems to be promising, but I have doubts of how well it would hold up in a court of law. Although the correct manner of which to address these environmental problems is difficult to determine, companies and nations should begin to reduce emissions and pollution, and in doing so could avoid the need for litigation whatsoever if the damages are not present.

Holley Beasley

I like the idea that Cort proposed in his comment that, since climate change is a global problem, the solution is to agree on across-the-board reductions. I agree with him that this would help address the free rider problem, because even if developing countries aren’t damaging the environment as much as developed countries, they still need to be held just as responsible for protecting it. I also like Marissa’s idea of finding the optimal level of carbon emissions and then allocating the emissions based on each country’s percentage of the world’s population. While this may not turn out to be completely accurate of efficient, it is a good start to finding a solution that will hold all countries responsible for the one environment they share while still not putting any single country at an economic disadvantage. Perhaps the more developed countries should make more of a financial contribution to clean up the problem they are most responsible for creating, however the under-developed countries should still be held just as responsible for not further damaging the environment. The world has only one environment and so it must absolutely be a united global effort.

The fact that the federal appeal judges ruled that the Kivalina case was an issue for politicians in Congress and not the courts surprised me for two reasons. First, you would think that the government would be happy to pass on those responsibilities to the courts. By having them hold companies and countries responsible for the pollution they are creating and the damage they are causing to the environment, the government works towards relieving itself of those responsibilities. The manner in which is would respond to and address those responsibilities would be through taxes, which opens up a whole new can of worms and disagreements.

Second, regardless of anyone's own personal views, one can't deny that we need a somewhat healthy environment to live a decent quality of life. We need to improve the problem and we need people who know what they're doing to address it. Why would we want to leave the pressing issue of possible human extinction in a century up to people who know nothing about the environment to decide the best path of action? You wouldn't take your broken-down Mercedes to a hair stylist and ask her how to fix it. So why would you take your broken-down environment to Congress?

Doug Poetzsch

My reaction to this article is that it would be ridiculous and absolutely chaotic if the courts got involved in climate change cases. Imagine the possibilities: Every time there was a natural disaster, people could blame climate change as a contributing factor and sue every energy and gas company in the world (or just those with the most money). Maybe it could get to the point where people whose children develop asthma could sue everyone else that drives a car in their city.

Obviously, I do not think a system of liability for greenhouse emission will work. It will be far to chaotic. Maybe if there was a worldwide law adopted by all countries that legally made every corporation and individual responsible for their share of greenhouse emissions people and companies would at least know the risks they were taking. But still, the volume of lawsuits would be ridiculous and the cost of implementing and monitoring such a system would make it not worthwhile.

Another point I want to bring up is that I do not think that companies that produce greenhouse emissions are comparable to tobacco companies. Most companies around the world are somewhat involved in greenhouse emissions where as the tobacco companies where few and were their user base was much smaller than energy companies. The world still runs on fossil fuels. Until a worldwide affordable alternative is introduced to the market, energy companies should not be responsible for the externality they helped create since almost everyone in the world is contributing to that externality.

David Fishman

I agree with Austin’s analysis; the concept of the UN hearing climate change related lawsuits certainly makes me hesitant. The decision that the court held, stating that the liability could not be placed on individual defendants is a logical response. In order to have law suits curbing emissions, there must be precise science that essentially everyone analyzing the data can agree upon. The article refers to “convincing evidence,” if the legal system is going to uphold litigation then there must be certain evidence. Moreover, cross country law suits itself is inherently questionable. How would this even be upheld? As much as there needs to be a heightened sense of cross country accountability, I do not believe that cross country litigation is the solution. Considering how America tends to avoid treaties and topics that it does not agree with, it is difficult for me to envision America abiding by a lawsuit verdict in UN court. Rather, this issue needs to be settled domestically. We need economic incentives that make the cost structure for firms inefficient at high rates of carbon emissions, etc. Primarily taxes and tradable permits, these forms of regulation can incentivize capital expenditures in lower emission technology that promotes a better long-run outcome. Since the firm is profit maximizing—minimize costs, maximize revenue—the firm will invest in a capital stock that reduces its tax liability: low-emission technology.

Jonathan Stutts

My initial reaction is similar to Doug's (below). The idea of climate-related law suits could quickly spin out of control. The court system in the United States is incredibly inefficient already - we waste tremendous resources every day trying to sort out petty lawsuits. Is it any surprise the United States lobbied heavily to avoid litigation as a potential solution? The United States is home to a remarkable, "Have a problem? Sue." phenomenon.
Shifting responsibility for adverse climate effects to the courts on an international scale would be a huge drag on the global economy. Beyond that, it simply wouldn't work. The closest solution would be something like a United Nations Climate Court. But where would the court draw the line when evaluating cases? How could the court be unbiased? The courts certainly couldn't rely on emissions reports from each country, because every nation would have added incentive to report lower emissions than actual levels.
In my opinion, this article, and the associated idea behind it, misses the point. Or at least the intermediate step. The problem will only be fixed when the global community is truly dedicated to finding a solution. Said differently, climate change will be a true agenda item when every nation's perceived cost outweighs the benefits of ignoring the issue. The key is the perceived cost portion. An island that has to move because of rising sea levels meets the above criteria for getting serious about climate change and holding nations responsible. A developed nation, like the United States, on the other hand, is not even close to the turning point. We still simply do not see the costs, and we are not alone. The solution lies in a consensus among the nations that can actually advance an international climate responsibility agenda, not on their courts. An international court may be possible [still difficult] with a strong consensus, but it is surely impossible without.

Paul R

I thought the cases that have already been brought before courts in the USA were very interesting. The fact that several cases have been found not guilty in my opinion puts doubt on future cases receiving guilty verdicts. United States Law is based on precedence and I think the article overlooks this. The article, to me, seemed very hopeful yet most of the actual evidence seems not hopeful. The article cited tobacco and the asbestos cases as similar instances in which courts ruled based on negative health externalities. Like our conversation in class, I do not think the scientific ability to prove individual culpability for a corporation, individual person, or individual country. This is a key point of the environmental degradation problem. There would be no problem if one company, one country, or one individual were polluting by themselves but the magnification of every person and every corporation leads to global environmental issues. If the United Nations were the legal body in charge of hearing cases, the key members on the Security Council are the world’s largest polluting countries. If a country or corporation within a country were told to appear before the United Nations Court, they could simply not go. Several key issues, in my opinion, will make any attempt at holding countries or corporations accountable unlikely in the foreseeable future.
_Paul Reilly

Gyung Jeong

Although there has been numerous attempts to find a solution to reduce pollution through arguments and conflicts, the problem has yet to be resolved. A huge factor in this struggle is that not all countries are the same; in other words, every country has different issues that need to be focused on, when considering pollution. Underdeveloped countries have different priorities than developed countries. Charging all of the countries the same amount of money for polluting the environment is unfair and simply not possible because the more developed countries have already used up a lot of their natural resources and caused pollution. These are the countries that should have to pay more money. The nations that are currently polluting hold more responsibility in this problem than others. Because of their irresponsible actions, other people and governments have had to pay.

Haley Miller

Companies should not be pursued for climate effects possibly caused by their emissions. Playing the blame-game after green house gasses have been emitted and changes have occurred does not solve the problem of emissions. Legislation should instead focus on the front-end of the issue and enforce existing regulations.
Blame for climate change can not be placed only on large energy and gas companies but upon each individual who emits greenhouse gases. Theoretically using a aerosol spray in Lexington, VA could have an effect on rising water levels. Individuals need to take personal responsibility for their emissions.
As the article states, the complexity of proving that a particular weather problem is due to a particular country's, company's or individuals emissions is daunting and defense lawyers will not have a hard time coming up with other explanations for the problem.
Also, I don't think that companies which emit greenhouse gasses should be compared to tobacco companies. After all, they are not spewing emissions for profit; they are producing products used by the public. Although this is an incredible complicated international issues, I do not believe that suing emitters of greenhouse gasses for the (possible/probable) effects is the appropriate course of action.

Eric Notari

The article states that the Kyoto Protocol is the only sign of progress, and small progress as it is. While this may be true for greenhouse gases, there are other scenarios of successful environmental protocols put into place without legal action against countries. One example is the Helsinki Protocol of 1985, where almost 20 countries in Europe decided to reduce their SO2 emissions by 30% within ten years. SO2 is produced mainly by fossil fuel combustion at power plants and other industrial facilities. While not a greenhouse gas, it still does very negatively affect human respiration, and the environment. This is a prime example of a successful protocol without lawsuits.
In response to what others have said so far, from an economic point of view, it has been proven many times over that countries will follow a Kuznets Curve. This is a negative U shape curve that relates among other things, pollution and income per capita. From this we see that a country pollutes more as its income per capita rises, but after a certain point, once income is high enough, pollution starts to decrease as the population cares more about environmental quality. Thus, limiting a country's pollution output can be devastating to its growth and quality of living in a healthier environment.
Another problem with pointing fingers at countries is that many times, when you limit the pollution output, they will just move production elsewhere. So, as has already been said, I would agree that a better way to go about handling this problem would be to look more closely at the firms who are producing the goods which create the pollution. As David said, the firms are going to move more to low emission technology in order to improve profits.

Ellison Johnstone

As many have noted in previous comments, several problems arise from the possibility of developing nations being redressed from major polluting nations. To begin, quantifying “loss and damage” incurred as a result of such polluting would be nearly impossible. How does a nation sort out damages resulting from other particular nations, for instance? Although this may be plausible in some cases, it certainly is not in many others. Additionally, many “developing nations that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change” are heavy polluters themselves. As the article states, such a developing country as Qatar has the highest per capita carbon emissions in the world. How can a nation distinguish, then, between damages from other nations and damages resulting from its own polluting? Again, in many cases this would prove to be impossible. So although this thinking is theoretically sound, it is just not sensible, at least in the present. I do, however, believe that there is some hope for the future of some kind of system to bring polluters to court for their contributions to climate change. With advancing technology and research into climate change, it may be possible in the future to better identify the exact perpetrators that cause particular environmental damage.

However, if poor developing nations are found to be the perpetrators, then would such a system really be a success? The article explains how an “adaptation fund” was set aside to help poorer nations to adapt to inevitable climate change. However, would this money be better directed to means for such nations to prevent their own polluting? These developing countries may not be contributing as large a volume of pollution as nations such as the US, but I believe it is still extremely important that they take measures to prevent their own pollution. Clearly, huge polluting nations bear a great deal of responsibility in preventing global climate change, but perhaps smaller developing nations could lead the way for the world as examples of low-polluting nations. This may be a small first step, but with the lack of progress with this issue over the past two decades, it seems to me that any step forward is a step in the right direction.

Will Andrews

I think Yale law professor Douglas Kylsar illuminated the issue most correctly when he asserted that climate damages are a subject of law and Justice. It is my belief that all nations have the inherent right to a climate environment that allows for potential formation and retention of developed civilization. If another entity encroaches on this right, I stand with professor Kylsar, it is an issue of justice. Polluting nations should be held accountable for the consequences that their operations have on the climate and how theses consequences effect other, developed and developing nations. However, as the article details linking the pollution and subsequent damages to a specific entity may be difficult. For justice to be held the law should be very transparent.

Charles Busch

Pearce asserts that most countries are more or less on the same page in that they are conscious of the adverse impacts of global climate change. He goes on to suggest that it is only a matter of time before they will legally bridge the gap between culpability and liability. Now that countries acknowledge global climate change as a threat, Pearce suggests that "loss and damages" will start to be tied directly to polluting countries, which will have to compensate nations which have been negatively affected by climate change. However, he notes the difficulty of directly tying pollution back to specific countries or private entities. Other students note that the same developing nations which might be subjected to losses and damages are themselves polluters, and often times have lower pollution standards than more developed countries which emit more carbon.
Right now it is nearly impossible to attribute adverse affects of global climate change to any one specific country, and it may take a long time to develop technology that can trace damages back to their origins. I think that more effort should be dedicated toward mitigation of the problem itself, as litigation is tangential and does little to address the growing issue of climate change.

Maggie Antonsen

The article believes that following the recent climate talks in Qatar, “it cannot be long before some small nation decides to invoke the disputes procedure laid out in article 14 of the UNFCCC.” This would mean that smaller nations could sue polluting nations for “loss and damage”. I do not think this is the best way to address our pollution issue and I believe this procedure could have negative ramifications. Mainly if you can sue larger countries, would there me an ulterior motive for a poorer, third world country to find a reason to sue just for the Money? And couldn’t legal battles between nations create a lot of tension and unfriendly feelings between those nations? I believe the money that a larger nation would pay to a third world nation, would be better spent if it remained in the hands of the larger nation. This brings into question the idea of proactive vs. reactive actions. If a larger country paid a smaller nation for “loss and damages”, then the smaller nation would be using the money for reparation and restoration: a reactive action. However, if the money remained in the hands of the larger nation, then the larger nation could make legislation targeting the bigger polluters or fund programs that research and develop ways to produce less carbon emissions: a proactive action. This is the same as with domestic lawsuits against corporations. If a corporation has to pay for damages, then it is losing money it could otherwise spend on purchasing GREEN equipment or funding environmentally focused R&D. Perhaps instead of forcing a nation or company to pay for damages, you could require a specified percentage of income be devoted to reducing pollution. A reactive action does not actually solve the problem, whereas a proactive action could actually lead to a solution to the problem, for example by stopping or reducing carbon emissions. Furthermore, a proactive action is not only better in the long run because it seeks a solution to the problem, but it may also be more cost effective—think of all the time and money that would be spent throughout a lengthy international legal battle. Finally, the ability to sue for “loss and damage” would require analysts to value how much a nation or corporation is liable for in damage. The past chapters we have read in the textbook have focused on how difficult—and costly—it can be to value the damages caused by pollution or the cost of reparation. I believe something should be done regarding greenhouse gas emissions, but it is an issue for politicians, not courts.

Emily Foggo

The article states that “the steps taken in Qatar are just words for now. But they could matter a great deal as droughts intensify, floods spread, heat waves kill, seas rise, and islands disappear”.

Personally, I believe it is our responsibility to take action now to put the words spoken in Qatar into action. We cannot continue to ignore the international environmental issues at hand, and while it may be extremely difficult to codify international law, I believe it must be done. As President Obama said in his inaugural speech today, we must, “[invest] in the generation that will build [our] future,” and if that means developing an international court to adjudicate on environmental challenges, then we must figure out how to create a fair, judicial system.

Understandably, there are doubts about this process, like those Scott Diamond expressed, but we as citizens of this earth need to take responsibility for the damages our actions have caused. I think the best way to combat fears about such a system is to further invest in attribution research, as the article described. The stronger the cause and effect argument is, the stronger the evidence against polluting nations will be. So even though critics have said that the idea of an international law system may sound promising, but will fail in execution, I say we continue to invest in such a system until we find a solution that is viable and fair.

Interestingly, President Obama also said in his inaugural address that, “we recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm.” While Mr. Obama may have been speaking about issues larger than our current environmental challenges, I think this quotes speaks to the fact that we are all at the mercy of other countries and other countries’ ability to pollute, so no matter how responsible we may be, our actions may be meaningless without a broader overarching international court system to support our efforts.

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