The Deadly Injustice of Increasing Heat

March 8, 2024

The United States under the new administration of Joe Biden has rejoined the Paris climate agreement. This is good news. But it also shows that states and industries are increasingly aware of their responsibility with regard to the consequences of climate change and are therefore now reorienting themselves (key words: e-mobility, green hydrogen). Anyone who believes that this change in thinking is due to altruistic motives on the part of corporate boards can certainly be accused of a certain degree of naivety. Companies are still concerned about markets, they are still concerned about money, but they are also concerned about escaping a new and rapidly growing legal asset class: climate change-related law suits. I would like to illustrate that we are not dealing with a new legal fad with important reports that came across my desk this week.

The impact of climate change on the health of the world’s population has already been summarized in an outstanding report in the British medical journal „The Lancet“

But it’s about much more than threats to life from intensifying hurricanes, floods and wildfires. It is about diseases and pathogens that suddenly appear in areas that have not been there before

It is about “hidden epidemics“, which are impressively described by the Center for Public Intergrity. These include the growing number of people who fall ill or die as a result of increasing heat. The extent to which the number of heat victims is linked to poverty and inequality has now been chronicled by reporters Sofia Moutinho and Elisabeth Gawthrop, who looked at “hotspots” in Florida and Phoenix, where increasing numbers of people are suffering from rising temperatures. Concludes, “Federal data capturing most emergency room visits and hospitalizations in Arizona and Florida reveal higher rates of heat-related illnesses in areas with less income.” Air conditioning just costs a lot of money – and not everyone has it.

Read the impressive report, which also appeared in several U.S. newspapers, here: “Dangerous Heat, Unequal Consequences”

We at NAÏMA Strategic Legal Services, will be working more with law firms dedicated to climate change related litigation in the coming years. Yes, it is a new area of business and yes, we will benefit from it. But others will also benefit from our work. The reports mentioned above describe impressively who these “others” are.

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