Sue world leaders $1 billion for global warming?

November 28, 2008

In a global stunt, a U.S. environmental activist is poised to lodge a $1 billion damages class action lawsuit at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against all world leaders for failing to prevent global warming.

Activist and blogger Dan Bloom says he will sue world leaders for “intent to commit manslaughter against future generations of human beings by allowing murderous amounts of fossil fuels to be harvested, burned and sent into the atmosphere as CO2″.

He intends to lodge the lawsuit in the week starting Sunday, Dec. 6. 

The prosecutor’s office at the ICC, the world’s first permanent court (pictured below right) for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, says it is allowed to receive information on crimes that may fall within the court’s jurisdiction from any source.

“Such information does not per se trigger a judicial proceeding,” the prosecutor’s office hastened to add.

The question is: will or should the prosecutor take on the case?

One might argue in defence that world leaders are in fact trying to impose climate-saving measures. In Vienna last year, almost all rich nations agreed to consider cuts in greenhouse emissions of 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Talks on a new climate treaty will be held in Poznan, Poland, from Dec. 1-12.

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the U.N. Climate Panel, says the cuts are needed to limit temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, an amount seen by the EU, some other nations and many environmentalists as a threshold for “dangerous” climate change.

Granted then that there is growing consensus that climate change poses a real threat, is it not only world leaders who are failing to prevent global warming?

Perhaps the global collective of individuals, governments and industry is to blame and the ICC lawsuit a valid publicity stunt in the constant battle to raise awareness and prompt action?

Because it’s action we need — and now, right?


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Thank you, Jeff, for that advice. Will do.

Posted by Danny Bloom | Report as abusive

A detractor sent me this email and it is a good one, too: “It’s a publicity stunt nothing more. I despise fundamentalists whether they’re on the right or left. Clowns like this one hurt the environmental movement. He might even do a little research on the ICC — this is not a civil court nor do he have any standing — and the U.S., which is the world’s largest polluter, is not a signatory to the Rome treaty. You might try educating yourself on the details of the ICC first.”

Posted by Danny | Report as abusive

An update on this lawsuit. The lawsuit was not accepted by the ICC in the Hague, with the ICC saying that they do not accept such individual lawsuits or class action suits and advising me to go elsewhere. I decided to take this lawsuit therefore directly to the CoPO, that is the Court of Public Opinion, in every country of the world, and that is where the lawsuit now rests and will remain until justice is served. I am not going to “rest my case”. To the contrary, we are going to continue fighting for this lawsuit in the CoPO, and hope that the resulting publicity will galvanzie people and leaders into taking action against climate change ASAP. I rest my case, not!

Posted by Danny Bloom | Report as abusive

This quote by another reader here is apt: “It is interesting to note the the ice shelves have been in place for the last 10,000 years. That roughly marks the end of the last ice age. The rise of civilization was possible only because of the stable and warm climate conditions that have prevailed. These conditions allowed agriculture production to rise to a point where many people could now do other things with their hands besides hunting and foraging.

For better or worse we are at a crucial juncture for all life on Earth, not just humans. We have done a masterful job building civilization to this point with our hands. Maybe the next evolutionary step is to continue building civilization by using our brains too.

- Posted by Anubis”

My graduation speech to the class of 2099 seconds that: -E&feature=channel_page

A veteran science report in France told me today: “Nice idea, but the message you deliver will, by that time, be 99 years out of date — you address the graduating class of 2099 as if they were facing the choices we face today. They won’t. On the cusp of the 22nd century, the globe will either be in Lovelock-type meltdown because we didn’t act soon and forcefully enough (or because it was already too late even in 2009, which is what Lovelock thinks); or the C02 levels will have stabilized and gone down because our wise or courageous political leaders did the right thing so that nine billion people could survive on Earth in harmony and peace…..Now, I ask you: which scenario do you think is more likely?” MY ANSWER: LOVELOCK WILL BE RIGHT. SIGH.

Climate changes are coming, yes.

Posted by ellen jones | Report as abusive

Will someone someday defend an unborn generation in court?The World Future Council, a group of 50 activists, politicians and thinkers from around the world, is focused on finding ways to prevent today’s actions from constraining tomorrow’s choices. The group just wrapped up a two-day symposium in Montreal at which more than 100 experts in international law explored ways to use legal tools, most of which are oriented toward doling out justice among those alive now, to avert what amount to crimes against the future.

Posted by Allen Marker | Report as abusive

I’m not sure how this guy is being taken so seriously when he uses language like “manslaughter”. I agree that something should be done, but I think he is going about it the wrong way.

The government can prevent prevent global warming using various techniques such as adding a Pigouvian Tax on industries that pollute the environment and contribute to climate change, but if Dan Bloom wants to sue someone it should not be world leaders for not imposing the correct restrictions, but instead the corporations that contribute to global warming. Why sue governments when they are not the ones causing the problem. there are other organizations such as that are trying to do just that. they should combine their claims together into a large lawsuit, but not at governments, but at the corporations.

Posted by mattao.b | Report as abusive