Benjamin Bibas

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In the United States, as in France, cities such as Paris, New York and San Francisco are starting to file lawsuits against oil majors, asking them to limit their carbon emissions and pay for the health and environmental consequences. © Yamil Lage / AFP

On November 23, 1998, four big US tobacco companies signed the  Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement with the attorneys general of 46 states and six US territories. Big Tobacco agreed to pay the gigantic sum of $206 billion (2.3% of the country's GDP at the time) over 25 years to compensate for public health expenses incurred by these states due to smoking-related illnesses, and to finance large-scale campaigns warning about the dangers of tobacco. The agreement was signed after a series of legal actions by states demanding reimbursement from companies for their health expenses.

Faced with the immense humanitarian consequences of climate change -  hundreds of thousands of deaths and  millions of forced displacements every year - and the immense financial needs for adaptation in the most vulnerable countries, local and state governments are starting to sue fossil fuel companies, just like they did the tobacco companies 30 years ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

The flame of a Saudi Aramco oil facility in the Khouris region, 160 km east of the capital Riyadh: the fossil fuel companies of Saudi Arabia, China and Russia are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and the main cause of climate change today. © Marwan Naamani / AFP

The COP27 climate conference opens in Egypt on November 6. Since the first Conference of the Parties ("COP") to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994, governments have been negotiating around two key ideas. First, that the richest states - initially the OECD member states which are historically the biggest polluters -- must reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions more and faster than others. Second, that the OECD countries must pay so that the poorest countries, which are the first victims of climate change effects even though they are responsible for only a small part of the GHG emissions, can adapt to it - i.e.…  Seguir leyendo »