Climate Change and Causation: Joining Law and Climate Science on the basis of Formal Logic

Petra Minnerop, Friederike Otto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A strict application of legal tests to find the cause of an event has always been a challenge for a coherent causal analysis. This is again the case for making causal statements in the climate change context, although we are witnessing unprecedented impacts of a changing climate at a global scale. While probabilistic event attribution provides information linking greenhouse gas emission levels to observable characteristics of extreme weather and climate related events, the conventional understanding of causation in law provides a very limited response to this scientific knowledge. We offer a new matrix for developing causal explanations based on formal logic, for a coherent analysis that is compatible with climate science and law. This matrix causally explains the relation between emissions, the increase in global mean surface temperature, the general increase in frequency and severity of climate related events and, most significantly, between emissions and individual climate related events.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBuffalo Environmental Law Journal
Volume27
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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climate change
climate
matrix
greenhouse gas
surface temperature
science
weather
analysis

Keywords

  • Causation
  • climate change
  • climate litigation
  • probabilistic event attribution
  • factual causation
  • legal causation

Cite this

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title = "Climate Change and Causation: Joining Law and Climate Science on the basis of Formal Logic",
abstract = "A strict application of legal tests to find the cause of an event has always been a challenge for a coherent causal analysis. This is again the case for making causal statements in the climate change context, although we are witnessing unprecedented impacts of a changing climate at a global scale. While probabilistic event attribution provides information linking greenhouse gas emission levels to observable characteristics of extreme weather and climate related events, the conventional understanding of causation in law provides a very limited response to this scientific knowledge. We offer a new matrix for developing causal explanations based on formal logic, for a coherent analysis that is compatible with climate science and law. This matrix causally explains the relation between emissions, the increase in global mean surface temperature, the general increase in frequency and severity of climate related events and, most significantly, between emissions and individual climate related events.",
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Climate Change and Causation : Joining Law and Climate Science on the basis of Formal Logic. / Minnerop, Petra ; Otto, Friederike.

In: Buffalo Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 27, 2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Minnerop, Petra

AU - Otto, Friederike

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Y1 - 2020

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AB - A strict application of legal tests to find the cause of an event has always been a challenge for a coherent causal analysis. This is again the case for making causal statements in the climate change context, although we are witnessing unprecedented impacts of a changing climate at a global scale. While probabilistic event attribution provides information linking greenhouse gas emission levels to observable characteristics of extreme weather and climate related events, the conventional understanding of causation in law provides a very limited response to this scientific knowledge. We offer a new matrix for developing causal explanations based on formal logic, for a coherent analysis that is compatible with climate science and law. This matrix causally explains the relation between emissions, the increase in global mean surface temperature, the general increase in frequency and severity of climate related events and, most significantly, between emissions and individual climate related events.

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KW - climate change

KW - climate litigation

KW - probabilistic event attribution

KW - factual causation

KW - legal causation

M3 - Article

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