Climate Change and Causation. Joining Law and Climate Science on the basis of Formal Logic

Buffalo Journal of Environmental Law 27 (2020, Forthcoming)

39 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2020 Last revised: 18 Sep 2020

See all articles by Petra Minnerop

Petra Minnerop

Durham Law School, Durham University

Friederike Otto

University of Oxford

Date Written: January 6, 2020

Abstract

A strict application of legal tests to find the cause of an event has always been a challenge for a coherent causal analysis. This is again the case for making causal statements in the climate change context, although we are witnessing unprecedented impacts of a changing climate at a global scale. While probabilistic event attribution provides information linking greenhouse gas emission levels to observable characteristics of extreme weather and climate related events, the conventional understanding of causation in law provides a very limited response to this scientific knowledge. We offer a new matrix for developing causal explanations based on formal logic, for a coherent analysis that is compatible with climate science and law. This matrix causally explains the relation between emissions, the increase in global mean surface temperature, the general increase in frequency and severity of climate related events and, most significantly, between emissions and individual climate related events.

Keywords: Causation, climate change, climate litigation, probabilistic event attribution, factual causation, legal causation

Suggested Citation

Minnerop, Petra and Otto, Friederike, Climate Change and Causation. Joining Law and Climate Science on the basis of Formal Logic (January 6, 2020). Buffalo Journal of Environmental Law 27 (2020, Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3522519 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3522519

Petra Minnerop (Contact Author)

Durham Law School, Durham University ( email )

Durham, DH1 3LE
Great Britain

Friederike Otto

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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