Opinion | A Shoe Drops … Could Climate Change Liability Usher in a New Era of Cooperation?

By: | October 6, 2022

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected].

In August, flooding immersed Pakistan as three months of monsoons, following a drought, took their toll on farmland and humanity.

The previous month, Vancouver, Canada launched a lawsuit against oil producers, placing the blame for climate change on them. Canadians were shocked by the wildfire that devastated Lytton, Canada after temperatures there crested 121 degrees Fahrenheit in June 2021.

Amidst the flooding in Pakistan, officials there voiced their opinion that rich Western economies, propelled by fossil fuels, were responsible for the devastation they underwent.

In both cases, the complainants are essentially saying, “We didn’t do this, you did.”

Whether energy producers will eventually be on the hook for losses suffered in Pakistan or Canada remains to be seen.

What does appear to be ever more real is that the liability linkage between climate change and corporate interests appears to be growing stronger. One’s mind might then turn to litigation, settlement, payment.

There may be another outcome, though. One that may not be so dire, so contentious.

What if this moment creates a new era of cooperation and culpability?

What if, forced by circumstance, we humans — and I mean all of us — start to take very seriously the idea that we are all in this together? That there is no first world, no second world, no third world and that we are all responsible for each other?

Might we move more quickly to quell carbon emissions? Might we move more quickly to shore up countries and civilizations that are being swamped by climate change?

My fervent hope is that we do, and we do it very quickly. &

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