Sunday, September 24

Global Climate Change Lawsuit

This amazing article displays the breakthroughs which can be achieved through courage and determination. The same way that cigarettes were belittled and eventually vilified, the same way child abuse was first questioned and then denounced. Now the innocuousness of auto emmissions is raising doubt. People are beginning to wake up to the effects of auto-dominated roadways in terms of both global climate change, and quality of life issues.

California sues car firms for global warming
· Green campaigners hail landmark action
· Six largest manufacturers creating 'public nuisance'

Dan Glaister in Los Angeles
Thursday September 21, 2006

America's most populous state, California, opened a new front in its struggle with climate change yesterday when it announced that it was suing the six largest carmakers in the US for allegedly contributing to global warming.

In the unprecedented lawsuit, the state accused Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler and Nissan of creating a "public nuisance" and costing it millions of dollars. Environmental campaigners hailed the lawsuit as a landmark event in the effort to deal with global warming.

The suit, filed in a US district court in northern California, alleges that vehicle emissions have contributed significantly to global warming, and argues that the car manufacturers should be held responsible for the past and future cost of combating this crisis.

"Global warming is causing significant harm to California's environment, economy, agriculture and public health," said the state's Democratic attorney general, Bill Lockyer, who filed the complaint. "The impacts are costing millions of dollars and the price tag is increasing ... It is time to hold these companies responsible for their contribution to this crisis."

California is the largest car market in the US, with more than 2m new vehicles registered every year, compared with about 2.5m for the entire UK. Car sales in the state totalled $83bn (£44bn) in 2005 according to the Automobile Alliance, an industry group representing carmakers. The 29m registered vehicles in the state drive a total of 320bn miles in the year.

The complaint further argues that monitoring and addressing the effects of global warming has cost the state millions of dollars. "Global warming has already injured California, its environment, its economy, and the health and well-being of its citizens," the complaint states, adding that dealing with global warming's harmful effects in the future, "will almost certainly cost millions more".

Roda Verheyen, co-director of Friends of the Earth's Climate Justice Programme, welcomed the development, saying: "This was a case waiting to happen. It is the most significant piece of climate change litigation that has ever been brought."

Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming programme, said the lawsuit built on initiatives taken by California and other states: "While the Bush administration continues to burrow its head in the sand, California has taken out a whole arsenal to combat emissions."

He said California's boldness stemmed in part from the attitude of its governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has been outspoken in his determination to combat global warming.

The Automobile Alliance in a statement said car manufacturers were already working to produce more fuel-efficient cars. Arguing that it needed more time to study the complaint, it noted that a similar suit, which saw energy companies sued on public nuisance grounds, had
failed. "Using nuisance suits to address global warming would involve the courts in deciding political questions beyond their jurisdiction," the alliance said. "This opens the door to lawsuits targeting any activity that uses fossil fuel for energy."

The lawsuit comes as California aggressively pursues a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. A law passed in 2004 will force carmakers to reduce carbon dioxide exhaust emissions by 30%. That measure is currently being challenged by car manufacturers.

Last month the California state legislature approved a measure to force utilities to cut emissions, and the state has sued the federal government for failing to address the effects of global warming.

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