April 16, 2013 in Climate Change
Dr. James Hansen is one of the world’s most prominent climate scientists calling for urgent action to avert catastrophic global warming. Last week, he announced that, at age 72, he is retiring from his position as Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies to devote more time to activism to limit greenhouse gases. Dr. Hansen’s decision to devote his efforts to full-time activism was cause for me to reflect on my meeting with Dr. Hansen in 2010 and ELAW’s role in averting catastrophic global warming.
I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Hansen when introducing him at a conference here in Eugene to educate public interest lawyers in the U.S. and around the world about using legal tools, such as an extension of the Public Trust Doctrine, to induce courts to compel governments to take stronger action to avert climate change. At the end of the conference, I asked Dr. Hansen the following question: If lawyers are successful in convincing courts that they have a duty to compel their governments to take stronger action on climate change, then what actions should the lawyers be asking for? After thinking for a while, Dr. Hansen said two things are needed: 1) a price on carbon emissions high enough to change the way countries generate energy; and 2) a ban on new coal-fired power plants. (read more)