Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Climate Change: Are the courts worth anything?

Activist Mike Smith has been in court for the last few days, as part of a case seeking to hold Fonterra, New Zealand Steel, and other large emitters accountable for the pollution they produce. Along the way, the case has raised serious questions about whether the courts are worth anything at all:

After Parliament failed to take effective action to cut emissions, the court is the public's last and best hope for protection, lawyers for green activist Mike Smith say.

Smith (Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Kahu) wants to convince the Supreme Court that his case against seven large fossil fuel users and suppliers deserves to proceed to a full hearing with expert evidence and witnesses.

But the polluters argue they have no relationship with Smith and no duty of care to him.

The full article expands on that last bit, but essentially the polluters are claiming that they have no obligations to the society they operate in, and no obligations not to harm us. Most of us would view that as being both monstrous and absurd. Still, its useful to have the polluters say it out loud, because it makes it clear what they think of us, and that they need to be regulated into less sociopathic views. As for the courts, the headline is right: if this case fails, then it is a failure of the law. If it is legal for a corporation to literally destroy human civilisation, then laws and courts are worthless.