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09 Dec 2008 05:12:53

Victims of climate change 'could sue big carbon emitters'

Victims of climate change 'could sue big carbon emitters'
People who suffer from the effects of climate change could resort to the courts to get compensation from companies that are responsible for high carbon dioxide emissions, according to an expert.

Oxford University physicist Myles Allen has claimed that climate change science is advanced enough to establish how much blame for an adverse weather event lies with humans.

The professor told the Guardian: "We are starting to get to the point that when an adverse weather event occurs we can quantify how much more likely it was made by human activity.

"And people adversely affected by climate change today are in a position to document and quantify their losses. This is going to be hugely important."

Professor Allen added that his methodology, based on comparing models of disasters, could assess the extent to which global warming worsened weather events such as the UK floods this summer and said that those affected could "potentially" use the findings to take their own legal action.

However, it is not clear that this would work in the international scenario, despite the fact that developing countries tend to suffer the impact of climate change worse.

According to UNICEF UK climate change project manager Lucy Stone: "Climate change is already hitting the world's poorest children first and worst."

Professor Allen said that despite his claim that man-made warming doubled the risk of death in heat waves, there was no legal follow up after the 2003 event in which 27,000 died, mostly in France, because the country's legal system makes it difficult.



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