This presentation offers a new perspective in the quest for climate justice. Myriad accountability lawsuits in the U.S. have been filed against the fossil fuel and industrial animal agriculture industries in the past few years, but these efforts have proceeded without coordination between the environmental and animal law fields. There has been no scholarly inquiry that unites the efforts to seek relief from “common enemies” for exacerbating the climate change crisis while profiting from their operations.
The presentation first reviews the nature and scope of the climate change impacts from the fossil fuel and industrial animal agriculture industries and examines how federal regulatory gaps and subsidies enable and exacerbate the climate change impacts from these two industries. It then reviews legal theories in common law accountability litigation against the fossil fuel and industrial animal agriculture industries that seek to compel these industries to pay damages for the harms they cause to public health and welfare, the environment, and animals. The presentation proposes that accountability litigation against the fossil fuel and industrial animal agriculture industries can facilitate a transition away from reliance on fossil fuels and factory farms to more sustainable alternatives. Positive outcomes from several related contexts including tobacco litigation, the phaseout of harmful substances in environmental regulation, and the COVID-19 crisis support the opportunity and urgent need for this "just transition."
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