Melbourne’s The Age is asking “Is climate the new asbestos?“, saying “Directors of polluting industries should check their liability insurance.”
climate change litigation is shaping up as an issue that will tie up the judiciary, companies and politics worldwide for years. While other sectors of the global economy are bracing for the negative impact of government legislation on climate change, the litigation industry is set to boom.
Insurer Swiss Re warns that climate change litigation will be the new asbestos. In a report (PDF), it says that while courts have until now dismissed climate change lawsuits against companies, the same could be said for asbestos-related claims that surfaced in the 1950s.
“By the 1960s, these asbestos-related claims were already becoming successful,” the report says. “At issue is not any correlation between asbestos and climate change, but rather the speed at which an issue can become a widespread topic for collective actions … We expect, however, that climate-change-related liability will develop more quickly than asbestos-related claims and believe that the frequency and sustainability of climate-change-related litigation could become a significant issue within the next couple of years.”
The insurance industry have always been well ahead of the curve on the issue of climate change. They should know, their job is to correctly assess risk. Climate class actions will be all too common as the seas rise, homes burn and populations are forced to move to higher ground. – DS