Climate Litigation Supporters Admit That Attribution Science Is Failing In Court

Serial climate litigation promoters appear to have scored a huge “own goal” when it comes to “attribution science”

From Energy In Depth

JUNE 28, 2021 | WILLIAM ALLISON

Hey, they said it.

A group of academics – who are outspoken supporters of the climate litigation campaign – released a report this week that admits that the climate attribution science currently being deployed by plaintiffs attorneys has serious flaws.

The report states:

“We find that the evidence submitted and referenced in these cases lags considerably behind the state-of-the-art in climate science, impeding causation claims.”

Attribution science – the flawed attempt to assign a certain amount of carbon emissions to specific companies – has long been viewed with skepticism, even among supporters of climate litigation. What is surprising about that latest development, however, is that the wealthy financiers of climate lawsuits would bankroll a report that confirms this paid-for science has serious limitations.

The report explains how attribution science isn’t holding up in the courtroom:

“However, plaintiffs have been unable to overcome even the more flexible causation tests applied in several jurisdictions which ask if damages are ‘fairly traceable’ to defendants’ actions.  This is typically due to courts’ finding that the evidence provided does not substantiate the connection between individual emitters’ actions and plaintiffs’ losses.

“…Our analysis shows that when courts considered evidence on causation, they typically found that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that defendants’ emissions caused the alleged impacts.”

It appears this rather transparent attempt at policy-based evidence making is both being exposed as a cynical ploy as well as failing during litigation.

Attribution Science Was Designed to Support Litigation

While the fact that this report was published in the first place is noteworthy, its conclusions shouldn’t come as a shock. Attribution science is an area of research that’s not being used to gain a better understanding of climate change, rather it was designed solely to aid climate litigation. In the very first paragraph of the report, the authors acknowledge this is the goal:

“We conclude that greater appreciation and exploitation of existing methodologies in attribution science could address obstacles to causation and improve the prospects of litigation as a route to compensation for losses, regulatory action, and emission reductions by defendants seeking to limit legal liability.”

One of the top authors of the report, Friederike Otto, even told E&E News in April that’s the reason behind attribution science:

“But Friederike Otto, a climate expert at the University of Oxford who has worked with [Myles] Allen, said her efforts to link extreme weather events to climate change have always been tied to the possibility of legal action. ‘Unlike every other branch of climate science or science in general, event attribution was actually originally suggested with the courts in mind,’ she said.” (emphasis added)

And of course, follow the money.

What is absolutely not a surprise is that this report was funded by the Foundation for International Law for the Environment (FILE), whose goal is “to accelerate legal action globally to address the climate and nature crises.”

This just further shows that attribution science isn’t done in the pursuit of greater scientific understanding, but to aid litigation. FILE also receives money from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), whose website states:

“Through our litigation strategy, we fund organizations to tackle climate change by informing, implementing and enforcing laws and influencing policies.”

CIFF’s founder and board chair is Chris Hohn, who, as EID Climate noted last year, is a British billionaire that has spent millions of dollars in the United States attempting to convince states and municipalities to file climate lawsuits against energy companies. RealClear Investigations reported:

“Among left-leaning billionaires, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer are enjoying wide public attention due to their big-spending presidential campaigns. But Hohn, a foreigner unknown to most Americans, arguably exercises comparable if not more influence on U.S. energy and environmental policy through his hedge fund, XR and other advocacy groups.

Read the full article here

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June 29, 2021 2:05 pm

How about the FACT that CO2 is not pollution!

n.n
Reply to  JON P PETERSON
June 29, 2021 6:46 pm

CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 greens the Earth. The efficacy of its “Greenhouse” effect was established in theory and tested in isolation. There are untested assumptions and conflation of energy, matter, heat, and transport. The significance of the fraction of a fraction anthropogenic CO2 is questionable at best. Emit responsibly.

Meanwhile, chaos (i.e. nonlinear, incompletely and, in fact, insufficiently charactarized and intractable processes) rules the natural environment, and the pride parade of lions, lionesses, and their unPlanned cubs play in gay revelry, and, with the resurgence of polar bear populations, the World Walrus Foundation, a joint project of walruses and seals, request em-pathetic people to donate to their cause.

Leon Warren
Reply to  JON P PETERSON
June 29, 2021 8:57 pm

You are right John. The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries which keeps an eye on environmental pollution does not measure carbon dioxide as a pollutant. See their web site on oeh.airquality@environment.nsw.gov.au.

ResourceGuy
June 29, 2021 2:10 pm

Who cares when you’re on retainer?

Rud Istvan
June 29, 2021 2:16 pm

These lawsuits were absurd from the beginning. Unlike big tobacco, there are damages so no monetary relief is possible. And since prospective damages are not imminent, injunctive relief is also not available. As for civil RICO against oil companies as a class, you have to show a conspiracy to suppress damaging information. That is hard, since there is no damaging information to suppress.
Just more green flail inspired by the Oreskes gang.

dk_
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 29, 2021 2:38 pm

Designed to fail. The suits seem intended to harass for the purposes of market manipulation. This summary doesn’t mention Bloomberg Energy finance of much of the lawfare. My bet would be that the legal support will fade away when changes are made in ownership and board membership.

Suppression would also have to show corporate malfeasance going back to Standard Oil of Ohio — awkward when one of the other primary sources of legal cash is the Rockefeller family fund.

MarkW
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 29, 2021 2:48 pm

“there are ‘no‘ damages”?

Rud Istvan
Reply to  MarkW
June 29, 2021 3:09 pm

Yup.My bad.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 5, 2021 5:57 pm

Once again, pulled the trigger before I read following posts. ;-D

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 5, 2021 5:56 pm

Think you’re missing a “no,” Rud – as in “there are NO damages so no monetary relief is possible.

June 29, 2021 2:38 pm

At least, corals don’t beach because of CO2 😀

Corals bleached in 1862 by all the cars and coal plants that didn’t exist

Last edited 27 days ago by Krishna Gans
Peter fraser
Reply to  Krishna Gans
June 29, 2021 3:21 pm

Amazing lithograph picture in the referenced article. While in no way denigrating the authenticity of the lithograph it does appear to have the colours enhanced manually. Any lithographs I have seen are in shades of brown, sepia and white. The reddish colour at the bottom left looks too red. Also I thought lithographs needed a considerable time exposure which would not be conducive to lithographing fish.

n.n
Reply to  Peter fraser
June 29, 2021 3:29 pm

Lithographic models, proxies even, 50 shades of an object, in the spirit of climate models, proxies, and rainbows.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  n.n
June 29, 2021 11:18 pm

Please don’t drink and comment.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Peter fraser
June 29, 2021 5:45 pm

A lithograph is an image drawn on stone (modern photo lithos use zinc) plates. The colour choice is determined by the printer, however. He can use any colour combination he likes. A different plate is used for each colour.

Also I thought lithographs needed a considerable time exposure which would not be conducive to lithographing fish.

No. The image is burned into the plate (stone) using weak acid, then made visible by inking the wet surface. Look up Alois Senefelder, the inventor. Lithography is one of many offset printing methods.

rbabcock
June 29, 2021 2:58 pm

It’s more for the blaring headlines they get when the suit is filed and providing intimidation to people and organizations that they might get sued and have to bear the litigation costs even if they ultimately win in court.

I would love to see lawsuits coming from the anti CAGW groups. Going after temperature data corruption would be a great start. At least get all that is going on into the public domain, including having those involved in adjusting the data testify to what they are doing and why.

Pat Frank
June 29, 2021 3:45 pm

Here’s the central problem with “attribution science.” None of the recent warming can be attributed to CO2 emissions.

The lawsuit is founded upon pseudo-scientific crockism.

The defendants ought to counter sue and seek the damages that would put all those people out of business, including Extinction Rebellion, the Rockefeller Foundation and the entire kit of the rest of the caboodle.

EPA Uncertainty 03.png
peter
June 29, 2021 4:10 pm

Its long past the time for the energy companies to fight back. They should ensure people suing them may not use their products. If they band together they can set a few examples. Imagine if vehicles registered to atackers cannot be fueled.

markl
June 29, 2021 4:21 pm

Simples, attribution science is not evidence that courts rely on to convict. However the intent isn’t to convict in a court of law but the court of public opinion.

LdB
Reply to  markl
June 29, 2021 10:47 pm

attribution science is not Science it’s a field in marketing.

commieBob
June 29, 2021 5:15 pm

Attribution Science, just like Creation Science.

Bryan A
Reply to  commieBob
June 29, 2021 7:57 pm

Creation and Big Bang are the same thing.
Both posit the Genesis of life from nothing
Creation just ascribes an Intelligence behind it

commieBob
Reply to  Bryan A
June 29, 2021 8:25 pm

No problem there at all. The problem comes when people try to gin up some science to prove that the whole universe was created 6,000 years ago or something like that.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  commieBob
June 29, 2021 8:39 pm

The 6000 years was derived by an Anglican Archbishop who simply added up the “begats.” Will someone eventually discover another jar full of the missing begats in a cave in Israel?

Bryan A
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 29, 2021 10:36 pm

Those begats are probably contained in gospels that were exempted from the bible by the church as they paint biblical figures in less rosy light

mcswelll
Reply to  Bryan A
June 30, 2021 11:13 am

I realize this is a joke, but the “begats” are in the Old Testament (the Jewish Bible), not in any gospels. There was no church around back then to censor (“exempt”, sic) those documents.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 30, 2021 2:35 am

…discover another jar full of the missing begats in a cave in Israel?

Lemme guess; those ‘begats’ will be written in acrylic ink? It was all they had, living in their little dell north of the ironsmith’s cave…

Bruce Cobb
June 29, 2021 5:20 pm

“Climate litigation” is a noxious, witches’ stew of pseudoscience, outright lies, greed, and particularly vicious and evil anti-fossil fuels anti-carbon ideology.
It reeks to high heaven. One wonders how they can stand themselves.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
June 29, 2021 8:39 pm

They believe the end justifies the means.

tygrus
June 29, 2021 5:48 pm

The groups were saying the past cases were using out-of-date evidence but the solution … they have more recent research that may be more persuasive.
Not mentioned here (but previously reported by WUWT) were the attempts to “educate” judges & lawyers to be *translated* more biased towards their wild climate claims.

Gunga Din
Reply to  tygrus
June 29, 2021 6:37 pm

Perhaps they’d have more success if they didn’t rely on evidence supplied by out-of-date “settled science”?
(Oh wait! If they did that then they never would have brought a case to begin with.)

Joe B
June 29, 2021 6:41 pm

As horrific as this is (and very long running as the Energy In Depth folks have been exposing this ploy for years), a VERY dark turn is evolving as Bloomberg is openly paying the salaries of several attorneys attached to state Attorney Generals’ offices with the express intent of criminally prosecuting “Climate Offenders”.
It is simply impossible to convey the destructive impact of these vile, vile creatures.

Last edited 27 days ago by Joe B
Gary Pearse
June 29, 2021 7:00 pm

“…climate attribution science currently being deployed by plaintiffs attorneys has serious flaws…”

The main one is that so far, the only palpable sign of climate change is the Great Greening of Earth and bumper crops for which I think attribution is pretty much agreed upon by all sides. About a degree Celsius rise since 1850 as we warm out of the LIA a good piece of that is natural variability. With CO2 up 45% since 1850, warming, at best would be a 2 or 3 tenths of a degree at most (natural variability during the Holocene could easily be 2 degrees}.

Gary Pearse
June 29, 2021 7:10 pm

The Climate Klatch has lost each and every debate to sceptics. Debating in court isn’t going to suddenly be different. Having Naomi Klein thinking up strategy and fed by climate debate losers is a poor strategy. This bunch ain’t got game.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 30, 2021 2:38 am

Yeah, it was real sad seeing Naomi Klein go from “Shock Doctrine” to “Blah-blah Capitalism versus Climate”.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 30, 2021 2:54 pm

“The Climate Klatch has lost each and every debate to sceptics. Debating in court isn’t going to suddenly be different.”

That’s right. Judges and skeptics require evidence. The alarmists don’t have any actual evidence, and it is a judge’s job to know when evidence is presented and when it is not. The judge isn’t seeing any evidence from the alarmists. What the judge is seeing is a lot of unsubstantiated claims which the alarmists are trying to pass off as evidence.

jorgekafkazar
June 29, 2021 8:28 pm

No problemo. Just pack the Supreme Court with a couple dozen climate numpties.

Jeff Alberts
June 29, 2021 11:16 pm

“We find that the evidence submitted and referenced in these cases lags considerably behind the state-of-the-art in climate science, impeding causation claims.”

You mean the “state-of-the-art” climate science that hasn’t been able to narrow down ECS to less than a 4 degree spread in 40 years? That “state-of-the-art” climate science?

Please excuse me while I snicker loudly.

Mike
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
June 29, 2021 11:54 pm

”You mean the “state-of-the-art” climate science that hasn’t been able to narrow down ECS to less than a 4 degree spread in 40 years?”

No, the one that has not even proved that an ECS exists outside a hypothesis – let alone detected it. (maybe the two are linked?? Who knows)….

Last edited 27 days ago by Mike
Geoff Sherrington
June 30, 2021 2:17 am

A person like Sir Christopher who has an enormous personal bank balance from management of hedge funds, shows that one of his primary strengths is to take money from lesser people and put it into his own pocket. This is a rare ability, thank heavens. But this ability does not make him any more expert than the next person to speak on matters of concern to us all.
There is a lot of diversion of the management of money in society now being caused by the mega-rich and particularly through the female ones or the female spouses of the rich and famous. Their attempts to influence the ways of the world are understandable, but damaging when they get it wrong – as they often do.
Just because you have the ability to fatten your wallet, you do not earn any special pace to speak unless you use money to bribe people to support you.
It really is a nasty business, this economic distortion by the ultra-rich, paricularly their frequent misuse of charity status as a tax minimisation ploy. Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
June 30, 2021 10:32 am

…paricularly their frequent misuse of charity status as a tax minimisation ploy.

I hear you. Charity and subsidies, after “Foreign Investment” central banking, the greatest vehicles for the disposession of mankind. If we stopped all forms of tax decuctions and rebates, we could all be paying 10% tax, and still the government would have surplus.

Sara
June 30, 2021 5:03 am

It was your headline that got me. The rest was just icing on the cake.

It’s fun to be able to have a genuinely good giggle.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
June 30, 2021 6:40 am

It is very interesting that this “billionaire” runs a hedge fund. One of the ways to make very large amounts of money is to time the shorting of a major oil company just before a (negative) decision by a court.

In terms of moving forms of slime-mould, hedge fund managers are among the most toxic to society. The fact that he has worked out how to create “opportunities” to profit from the destruction of entire industries must make him a favourite among the already wealthy.

Never underestimate how low some humans will stoop to get money for nothing. The successful naked shorting of Exxon during a successful attribution lawsuit would make Croesus blush.

While they have been successful in convincing (or paying) the media to claim, fact-free, that individual storms were caused by particular companies, (remember the attempts around the Katrina time?) it is a very different kettle of fish to establish “proof” in a court where the accused are permitted to put a defense.

When a true conversation is held on the matter, the claims are as evanescent as the morning dew.

Gary Pearse
June 30, 2021 12:20 pm

The attribution putsch designed for such litigation makes it glaringly obvious that they haven’t been able to show actual damage has been done (let alone attribute it. Cart horse problem.) Surely in legitimate litigation one starts by itemizing and costing the damage done before pinning it on a defendant.

Hopefully defence lawyers are asking for proof of damage. Secondly, why hasn’t someone calculated the positive benefits of the Great Greening.

They worried about Bengal tigers on the road to imminent extinction a few years ago. But tigers in India have increased 33% in 4 years and in Bangladesh’s Ganges delta 10%. Attribution is easy – fossil fuel fuelled Great Planetary Greening.

Tom Abbott
June 30, 2021 2:42 pm

From the article: “This is typically due to courts’ finding that the evidence provided does not substantiate the connection between individual [CO2] emitters’ actions and plaintiffs’ losses.”

Most judges/courts can identify an unsubstantiated assertion when they see one. It’s their job, more or less. Establishing evidence that Human-caused Climate Change is real or is causing damage, is going to be a long row to hoe for the Alarmists

From the article: “…Our analysis shows that when courts considered evidence on causation, they typically found that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that defendants’ emissions caused the alleged impacts.”

That’s because there is no evidence establishing causation. There is no evidence CAGW is real, and therefore no evidence that CAGW damages are real.

I’m glad to see Soros wasting his money.

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