Energy conglomerates have recourse to special courts and legal regimes that they helped design – and they won’t go down without a fight
Phasing out fossil fuel is a crucial step to address the climate emergency. But to do so will mean facing not only political and economic obstacles, but legal ones. Fossil fuel companies can use domestic and international laws to demand compensation for bans on fossil fuels or prohibitions on the extraction of oil or coal. The legal system can make our collective transition to a green economy easier, or more difficult; among other things, it can increase the bill we pay for a healthy environment. Like big tobacco, big oil can and will litigate.