How the climate crisis is changing the legal profession
Whether they are aware of it or not, lawyers are involved in climate change cases all over the place. They lubricate, lobby, pass laws, and pursue legal action. They bring about events (the buying and selling of fossil-fuel fired plants; the raising of finance for an energy-to-waste facility; and so on). On behalf of their clients, they aim to negotiate and shape future climate regulations in both the public and private sectors.
They participate in the creation of climate laws and advance and reach agreements on the legal definitions of climate change in agreements and other non-legislative forums. They offer advice on how shifting regulatory landscapes could affect and open doors for clients’ enterprises and interests. Let’s find out more about the impact lawyers can have on climate change litigation.
Let us first understand –
Climate Crisis: What is it?
Two global problems are referred to as the “climate crisis”:
- Environmental Change
- Global Warming
The phrase has been used to emphasise the threat that global warming poses to the environment. It exhorts us to act forcefully to neutralise these threats. The phrase is used by those who are aware of the seriousness of the threat we are facing. Climate activists use this phrase to create a sense of urgency among people as the planet continues to degrade as a result of continued greenhouse gas emissions.
An Overview Of The Law, The Paris Agreement, And The Environment
What better place to begin than with the Paris Agreement when discussing climate change?
A historic deal to address climate change was reached in 2015 in Paris, as many of you are aware.
It established a global framework that outlines the basic parameters within which States and, consequently, non-State actors, must function.
There are more than 1,500 laws or policies related to climate change in all 197 signatories or ratifiers of the Paris Agreement. Additionally, there are more than 1,000 climate change cases worldwide.
As governments struggle to fulfil the targets set forth in the Paris Agreement, it has led to and will continue to lead to increased regulation.
In a report released last month, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that rapid, extensive, and unheard-of adjustments will be necessary in all facets of life to keep global warming to 1.5°c.
Prior to discussing the legislation, it is important to note that all lawsuit risk is based on the evidence, or more specifically, the scientific and/or financial effects of climate change.
Regulation of the environment
Let’s begin by stating the obvious. There is already a tonne of environmental law. Regulations are in place to safeguard the quality of the air and water, to manage waste disposal, to encourage energy efficiency, and to support environmentally friendly planning. Numerous law firms currently provide their customers advice on how to negotiate this maze of rules.
There will probably be more climate-related laws as time goes on. Cities are exploring clean air zones and restrictions on particular modes of transportation more frequently. Sectors with high carbon footprints, such as transportation and retail, may be subject to regulatory waves if they don’t change quickly enough to meet consumer needs. In order to ensure compliance and prevent liability, clients in these areas will need experienced legal counsel to decipher these regulations.
Insurance is one of the most severely impacted industries. The victims of the worldwide floods and fires brought on by catastrophic weather will inevitably try to recoup their losses. In climate-related lawsuits, which are only expected to rise, insurance firms are necessarily engaged.
As more people experience losses brought on by climate change, more claims will be made against the insurance, placing further burden on the industry. Consumers may be affected, and people living in high-risk locations may eventually find that insurance is either unavailable or prohibitively expensive.
These changes have wide-ranging effects and will all require advising, transactional, or confrontational legal practice because of how intertwined the global economy is.
How can attorneys fight the climate crisis?
We are imploring the legal community to practise law with consideration for the environment by:
- Continually educating lawyers and bringing climate change issues to their attention
- Addressing any issue that arises in the course of practising law with consideration for how that issue will likely affect the climate crisis
- Giving clients sound advice on how to achieve their goals while reducing the effects of climate change and fostering adaptation, as well as recognising any potential legal risks and liabilities that may result from action or inaction that negatively contributes to the climate problem.
- establishing science-based goals to cut the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions connected to running a law practise
- adopting tangible ways to lessen their company’s environmental impact and policies that will lessen their contribution to the climate issue; and
- Making public the actions done and results of fulfilling these commitments
To increase our understanding of climate science and implications and to collaborate on efforts to address the climate issue, we can encourage our professional organisations to form climate change committees and working groups.
Additionally, we can take local and individual action to lessen our impact on the environment, both personally and within our firms and chambers. To do this, we can work toward more sustainable business practices, such as the use of only electronic file storage, digital technology, energy-efficient office infrastructure, travel, and purchasing decisions.
It may be requesting that our membership organisations take a stand to assist governments in creating regulations that safeguard our present and future social and economic development. It can involve giving advice to our legislators on how they too might change things for the betterment of all of us and the future of our kids.