Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Put oil firm chiefs on trial, says leading climate change scientist

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The Guardian

James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress – in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming – to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the “perfect storm” of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.

In an interview with the Guardian he said: “When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that’s a crime.”

I think he is right, but the legal nicety is that there is porbably no law on the books that they can be charged with. And then of course there is the whole buisness of jurisdiction. In the US no other courts are recognised as legitimate, since the US does not sign treaties that would allow its officials to be put on trial. Because, of course, for most of the Bush administration, the Vice President and President have been denying right along with the buddies from the oil patch.

And while the tobacco cmpanies have had to pay large sums to both smokers and state governments, so far as I am aware no tobacco company executuve has ever served any hard time for their crimes against humanity. (I would really like to be proved wrong about that.)

Written by Stephen Rees

June 22, 2008 at 10:15 pm

One Response

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  1. Great article… and don’t forget the benefits of planting a tree. If we all just plant a few we can really make a difference, each one will soak up 20kgs of CO2 every year and put enough Oxygen back in the atmosphere to support 2 people.Peace

    Tree Planter

    June 28, 2008 at 8:31 am


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