Climate change: Could countries sue each other for damages?

A recent study into the economic costs of greenhouse gas emissions is raising questions about whether climate litigation between countries is possible.

The analysis out of Dartmouth College in the US found just a handful of countries collectively accounted for trillions of dollars in global income losses from 1990 to 2014.

Speaking to CTV’s Your Morning on Monday, climate and energy program director for the Center for International Environmental Law Nikki Reisch said no single study will prove a legal case on its own, or unleash any “floodgates” of litigation.

But she said the study is important for other reasons.

“First and foremost, this study lays bare just how uneven the economic impacts of climate change are and which countries have contributed the most to this mounting cost,” Reisch said.

The analysis shows US territorial emissions cost Mexico US $ 79.5 billion of lost gross domestic product between 1990 and 2014.

Meanwhile, the impact of US emissions on Canada resulted in a gain of US $ 247.2 billion, the analysis found. The study used US dollar values ​​adjusted for inflation in 2010.

Reisch said the study shows it is possible to “connect the dots” between pollution in one country to harm in another, although taking a nation to court over climate damages would carry significant diplomatic costs.

“But that political calculus may well be changing because we are living in the midst of an accelerating climate crisis that is posing literally existential threats to some countries and communities,” she said.

Watch the full interview with Nikki Reisch at the top of the article.

With files from Reuters

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