Greens leader Adam Bandt has introduced a bill that’s aiming to allow victims of bushfires and extreme weather events to sue Australia’s big polluters for their contribution to climate change. These include coal, gas and oil corporations, and it’s said that just 100 companies are responsible for over 70% of global emissions.
The bill would also allow state and federal government to seek reimbursement for damage done to public properties, that were a result of disasters caused by the events of the climate crisis.
Bandt’s bill is called Liability for Climate Change Damage, and it makes a whole lot of sense. Why shouldn’t these companies have to pay the price for their immense contributions? The bill would make these corporations liable for the damage to the planet caused since the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and in turn, the damage to people’s homes.
Bandt took to Twitter to speak about the bill’s introduction. “The bastards knew. Big coal, oil & gas corporations knew as far back as 1977 their products would cause climate collapse”.
The bastards knew.
Big coal, oil & gas corporations knew as far back as 1977 their products would cause climate collapse.
But like tobacco & asbestos, they went on selling.
I just intro’d a Bill to make them pay, making them liable for climate damage they caused.
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) May 24, 2021
As for what companies would be held accountable for? Any company responsible for more than one million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over 12 months would be liable under the proposed legislation.
“This bill is about justice,” Bandt said in a media statement. “It’s about making sure that big corporations can’t profit from destroying people’s lives.”
Although this all sounds somewhat fair, the bill is pretty unlikely to pass Parliament because it’s the first attempt to establish this type of liability through legislation. The conversation around holding big polluters and governments accountable for climate change, and the movement of introduction lawsuits into the equation, has been growing over the last few years.
As we become more aware of climate change and the structures that are built in capitalism that add to the problem, we’re becoming more invested in pulling these structures apart and rebuilding them.