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Speaker and thematic focus



Prof. David Mond (University of Warwick): Conference welcome

Dr. Rachel Wilkerson & Harpreet Kaur Paul (University of Warwick): Opening remarks

Litigation is a powerful tool in the environmental crisis’, Guardian, Tessa Khan, 16 August 2020


Prof. David Stephenson (University of Exeter): Brief overview of event attribution in climate science




Noah Walker-Crawford (University of Manchester): Proving causality: scientific and legal standards of evidence in Luciano Lliuya v. RWE


Christian Huggel, Mark Carey, Adam Emmer, Holger Frey, Noah Walker-Crawford, and Ivo Wallimann-Helmer, 'Anthropogenic climate change and glacier lake outburst flood risk: local and global drivers and responsibilities for the case of lake Palcacocha, Peru,' Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 2175–2193, 2020

See also:


Navraj Singh Ghaleigh (University of Edinburgh): Attribution in climate litigation - some preliminary considerations

Navraj Singh Ghaleigh, ‘Just Transitions for Workers: When Climate Change Met Labour Justice’ in Alan Bogg, Jacob Rowbottom and Alison Young (eds), The Constitution of Social Democracy: Essays in Honour of Keith Ewing (Bloomsbury Academic/Hart Publishing 2020). Link

Navraj Singh Ghaleigh, 'Resetting or Reversion in the New Climate Normal,' Forthcoming in: Covid-19 in Asia: Law and Policy Contexts, (OUP, 2020), edited by Victor V. Ramraj. Link


Virtual coffee break



Roundtable 1: Discussing the differences between legal and scientific concepts of attribution

In law, uncertainty is relevant to the applicable standard of proof (for example, ‘more likely than not’ in civil cases, and ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ in criminal cases).

Focusing on tortious (civil) liability (negligence, nuisance etc): attribution can be relevant to establish a duty of care, but mostly comes into causation and to quantification of damages and remedies sought issues and questions. The law in both England and Wales and the US has addressed the issue of who should be held accountable where the plaintiff cannot identify specific individuals or entities responsible for the damage or loss complained of, but can identify a group of individuals or entities responsible for the acts or operations which ultimately caused the damage or loss. The common law has evolved to establish liability and allocation even where scientific evidence has been incapable of determining strict causal links between loss and damage and the acts of a particular defendant (such as in the case of asbestos, pharmaceuticals, water pollution or contaminated land).

In certain types of negligence cases, in England and Wales, courts have accepted probabilistic evidence as proving causation between the wrongful conduct and the claimant’s disease when such evidence demonstrates that the risk of the event occurring was increased by a factor of 2:1, known as the ‘doubling of the risk’ test. In mesothelioma (asbestos dust) cases, a more relaxed standard of ‘material contribution to the risk’ was developed in the Fairchild v Glenhaven [2002] 3 WLR 89 House of Lords line of cases. This jurisprudence - although relating to a different field - is nevertheless useful in considering the ways in which judges have relaxed traditional deterministic tests for causation. This differs from scientific notions. Courts consider scientific assessments as expert opinions.

See: Sophie Marjanac & Lindene Patton (2018), 'Extreme weather event attribution science and climate change litigation: an essential step in the causal chain?,' Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 36:3, 265-298, DOI: 10.1080/02646811.2018.1451020


Dr. Thomas L Muinzer (University of Aberdeen): Climate law and governance

Dr Thomas Muinzer, 'Climate case brings good news and bad,' Irish Legal News, 13 August 2020

Plan B Earth and Others v. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (link)

Plan B heading for Court over Government’s Covid Recovery Programme, 21 July 2020


Prof. Henry Wynn (London School of Economics): Critical path to 2050



Laura Gyte (Senior Legal Adviser, Oxfam) [in place of Tim Gore (Head of Policy, Advocacy and Research, Oxfam): Attribution to support policies and campaigns for climate justice]


1) How can we start to get useable information from attribution studies closer to real time whilst the extreme weather event is still high on the media/political agenda - waiting for full peer review can take us beyond the point at which the campaigning window has moved on; and

2) How can we work towards more attribution studies in the poorest parts of the world where the impact of climate change is most severe - how can we address big constraints like the availability of data?

Podcast recommendation: How they made us doubt everything, BBC

Our legal challenge to planning reforms, 27 August 2020 Rights: Community: Action





Roundtable 2: Closing the gap - identifying opportunities for research to support legal and policy impacts towards climate justice



Lunch break (30 mins)



Lindene Patton, J.D. (Earth & Water Law Group): US’ courts hostility to the 'quantification' of liability standards, and the legal construction of social norms - obstacles and opportunities for seeking climate justice through litigation

Sophie Marjanac & Lindene Patton (2018), 'Extreme weather event attribution science and climate change litigation: an essential step in the causal chain?,' Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 36:3, 265-298, DOI: 10.1080/02646811.2018.1451020


Closing Remarks

Some law focused projects / resources: