As climate change escalates, and people increasingly suffer from its effects, governments have begun to litigate to hold fossil fuel companies accountable. Mounting evidence of wrongdoing by fossil fuel companies is being exposed as part of these climate litigation cases, including science denial and other tactics to delay action.
While fossil fuel companies pour money into defending themselves against these increasing lawsuits, right-wing special interests funded by these same companies continue their offensive strategy of harassing climate scientists and researchers using various targeted legal tactics.
Last month alone, for example, CSDLF lawyers defended scientists against invasive open records requests and lawsuits, politically motivated harassment, and matters ranging from defamation concerns to a lack of employment protections while engaging in research. We helped climate scientists and physicians engaged in climate advocacy who were targeted by fossil fuel-funded groups, and we assisted scientists in safely sharing their experiences publicly.
This year is – by far – CSLDF’s busiest year since its inception, and it is clear that fossil fuel-funded groups and individuals are aggressively ramping up their efforts to spread climate misinformation and engage in science denial in order to delay climate action.
Meanwhile, the activist, conservative majority of the Supreme Court severely hampered the federal government’s ability to restrict fossil fuel emissions in last month’s devastating decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which was brought by a group of coal states with industry ties. According to some experts, this decision will now make it “mathematically impossible” for President Biden to meet his stated climate goals.
Despite all of this, there is still reason to be hopeful. For one, there are a number of states that seek to move forward where the federal government has failed, such as with the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance. Individuals are also stepping up: CSLDF is seeing an increasing number of climate scientists becoming politically active around the issue of climate change, and CSLDF lawyers have focused on providing many of them with the legal advice needed to carefully and effectively do so. Scientists of all stripes also continue to fight for science protections inside federal and state government agencies as well as public and private universities and institutions.
CSLDF encourages these actions to achieve climate justice, and will continue to vigorously defend scientists from industry interests so long as they are under attack.