Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1998


Climate change, Proportional liability, Toxic torts, Tort approach to climate change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC


Environmental Law | Law and Society | Natural Resources Law | Torts


The problem of climate change continues to be an intractable one for policymakers. Uncertainties over the likely costs of climate change as well as over the costs of proposed remedies have hampered the formation of a consensus regarding the best course of action. The principles of tort law provide a useful means of analyzing the problem of climate change, particularly the issue of who should bear the costs associated with its effects. The two major goals of tort law (reducing the costs of accidents and corrective justice) both point towards the appropriateness of placing the costs of climate change on those who manufacture fossil fuels. Several obstacles, particularly issues of causation, stand in the way of a tort analysis of climate change. These obstacles can be overcome through a philosophically sound approach to the issue of causation and the adoption of a system of proportional liability.

Publication Citation

Published in: Natural Resources Journal, vol. 38, no. 4 (Fall 1998).