Activist Lawyers Wage War On Western Industrial Civilisation

LONDON - MAY 7: A Barrister picks up his wig prior to British Home Secretary David Blunket
Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Donna Laframboise has a good story about a climate change conference for high level international lawyers which was recently staged in London and financed, inter alia, by the Supreme Court; the UK government; and King’s College, London – and endorsed with a special message of support from the Prince of Wales.

The fact that so much public money has been squandered by supposedly impartial organisations on so nakedly political a cause is bad enough.

And the fact that the conference’s organisers refuse either to reveal the identities of the “leading judges, lawyers and legal academics” from 11 nations or to disclose precisely how much public money was spent indulging this three days of wine-fuelled eco-schmoozing is more disturbing still.

But worst of all is what it tells us about the latest front being opened against Western industrial civilisation by the activists of the green movement: the plan, it seems, is to use the international courts in order to wage “lawfare” on those governments and individuals which dare to defy the bankrupt, scientifically illiterate and dishonest “Consensus” on climate change.

For evidence of these activist lawyers’ intended modus operandi, look no further than the keynote opening speech by Philippe Sands QC, an international law specialist and Professor of Law at University College London.

Sands is careful to present himself as a neutral party who has only reached his position after careful sifting of the facts. (You’d never guess that he was a member of the left-leaning human rights practice Matrix Chambers, formerly the home of Cherie Blair, nor that he was, till 2013, an active member of the Liberal Democrats).

Three years ago, he claims, he did not see much of a role for international courts on the climate change issue.

So what changed his mind?

Several factors have combined. There have been changes in public opinion, and the Pope has issued a strong encyclical letter (Laudato Si), framing the issue of climate change in moral terms. The scientific evidence appears (to a non-scientist) to be ever more robust. More governments are taking more actions, and even the United States and China seem finally to be acting, jointly announcing targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the next ten to fifteen years. National courts are starting to act: in June this year the Rechtbank, a court in The Hague, ruled the Dutch Government’s climate change policy was unlawful in failing to achieve the 2020 greenhouse gas emission target reduction (of 25% to 40%), a target supported by scientific evidence against the background of a global commitment to reduce global, greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C above pre- industrial levels.

This is sophistry worthy of Belial. So the left-leaning head of the Catholic church has published a paper; so public opinion has changed (in what direction Sands doesn’t specify); so Sands – from what he concedes is a position of ignorance – thinks the scientific evidence “appears” more “robust”; so a bunch of lawyers in various jurisdictions are having some success getting their snouts in the climate change trough.

So what?

Next we get the inevitable Appeal to Authority.

The most recent evidence, as set out by the IPCC last year, is clear, without ambiguity, even startling. I quote from the 2014 Synthesis Report:

“Clear, without ambiguity, even startling.” Yes, if you’re a left-leaning lawyer with an axe to grind and a lucrative new field to open, I’m sure it’s all of these things.

He goes on to quote one or two scary sounding slogans – “Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries”, etc – from the Synthesis Report. But the Synthesis Report – as anyone even remotely familiar with the workings of the IPCC is well aware – is often at odds with the generally much drier, more understated findings of the report’s main body. That’s because it tends to be sexed up by politically motivated activist scientists in order to generate headlines and to galvanise leaders into action. The Synthesis Report, unfortunately, is the only bit – if any – that politicians and their advisers have the attention span to read.

He goes on:

These are not the words of doubt. They indicate that we have gone well beyond the classical standards on the burden of legal proof, whether it be balance of probabilities, or beyond reasonable doubt, or the standard of ‘conviction intime’ that I am directed to apply by Swiss law sitting as an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. Just this week the UK Met Office issued a new report, entitled Big Changes Underway in the Climate System? We are told that in 2015 the earth’s average surface temperature is running at or near record levels. Scientific evidence tells us that climate change is happening; the textbooks tell us that it’s a subject for international law, one addressed by treaties and other international instruments.

Now Sands is showing his true colours and it’s starting to get frightening.

It’s frightening because you can all too easily imagine a scenario in which a plausible and articulate lawyer like Sands manages to lead a case against a government or corporation that has supposedly put the world in danger by refusing to take necessary action on climate change. And where he finds himself in a court where the judge  – perhaps having attended this London conference or one like it – is very much of the view that organisations like the IPCC or the Met Office are the ultimate arbiters of authority on climatological issues and that the views of climate sceptics are completely to be discounted.

What Sands is doing here is handing himself and his fellow international lawyers the keys to a goldmine by creating a scenario in which the scope for litigation by green activist groups is virtually limitless.

Worse, though, far, far worse is that if Sands and his ilk get their way, it will effectively be curtains for Western Industrial Civilisation.

More on this tomorrow. Watch this space.


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