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Vermont: A New Hope

Vermont: A New Hope

But where will Big Oil Strike Back? Dana Drugmand rejoins the conversation, and introducing Loes van Dijk of Climate Court.

A little over a week ago, Vermont enacted the first law requiring carbon polluters to pay to clean up the damage caused by climate change, putting the money into a fund for adaptation and resilience measures. But it happened in a quirky way - the state’s Republican governor didn’t sign it, but didn't veto it. He did…nothing. And because of a constitutional quirk, that’s how it became law.

One of the only journalists to predict that potential outcome was

of . So we caught up with her and with of Climate Court to talk about the implications the law might have globally, its prospects for surviving the attacks on the attribution science underlying it - which we detailed last week, and other climate litigation around the world - including a French prosecutor being asked to charge the board and management of Total with criminal charges including manslaughter.

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Segment 1: Interview with Dana Drugmand

  • [00:03:47] Dana Drugmand discusses Vermont's new law holding carbon polluters financially responsible for climate change damages.

  • [00:04:22] Dana explains how the law passed without Governor Scott’s signature and the implications of this legal precedent.

  • [00:05:51] Discussion on Governor Scott's strategic decision to let the law pass without his signature due to overwhelming legislative support.

  • [00:07:48] Dana's insights on the significance of Vermont’s law being the first of its kind globally and its potential impact on holding big oil accountable.

  • [00:08:33] Reaction to the news and the emotional and professional implications of such a groundbreaking law.

  • [00:12:29] Dana elaborates on the future process of billing fossil fuel companies and the expected legal challenges.

Segment 2: Broader Implications and Reactions

  • [00:19:34] Discussion on the potential political consequences and whether such a law could have passed without recent severe flooding in Vermont.

  • [00:20:33] Insights into the broader trend of climate accountability laws and the potential for other states to follow Vermont's lead.

  • [00:21:11] Comparison with ongoing climate liability lawsuits in states like California and New York.

Segment 3: Interview with Loes van Dijk

  • [00:23:48] Introduction to Loes van Dijk and her work with Climate Court, tracking climate litigation worldwide.

  • [00:24:09] Loes explains the importance of climate litigation as an effective tool for addressing climate change and holding entities accountable.

  • [00:24:45] Overview of the Urgenda case in the Netherlands, a landmark human rights-based climate litigation that set a global precedent.

  • [00:25:40] Discussion on tort litigation and its applicability in various legal systems worldwide, highlighting cases like the Peruvian farmer vs. RWE.

Segment 4: Legal Strategies and Future Outlook

  • [00:26:58] Loes discusses the flexibility and power of tort law in climate litigation, emphasizing its global applicability.

  • [00:30:38] Analysis of the Republican attorneys general’s attempt to block state-level climate litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • [00:32:06] Examination of the role of attribution science in proving climate change causality in court and its critical importance in litigation.

  • [00:33:50] Loes's reaction to Vermont's law and its potential to inspire similar legislation worldwide, focusing on the need for a global legal mechanism to address climate change.

Segment 5: Broader Legal and Political Context

  • [00:38:08] Discussion on the implications for other jurisdictions, particularly vulnerable countries in the global south.

  • [00:39:34] The importance of international legal frameworks like the Paris Agreement in supporting global climate litigation efforts.

  • [00:42:22] Loes's perspective on the potential impact of political changes in the Netherlands on climate policies and the strength of legal precedents.

  • [00:44:29] Exploration of the potential for criminal charges against corporate executives for climate-related damages, focusing on a case against Total in France.

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  • Host: Richard Delevan

  • Guests: Dana Drugmand, Loes van Dijk

  • Production Assistance: Theodore Delevan

  • Music: Suncharmer and check out our playlist for other tunes:

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Wicked Problems
Wicked Problems - Climate Tech Conversations (Subscriber Feed)
A show about climate tech - the intersection of people, politics, technology, and capital that will help shape the future. And whether you'd want to live in it.