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Climate Change Liability – Variations on Themes Across the Atlantic

Author(s): Utter, Robert

Journal: Nordisk Miljörättslig Tidskrift
ISSN 2000-4273

Volume: 2012;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 43;
Date: 2012;
Original page

In recent years the United States Supreme Court has delivered two significant rulings, Massachusetts v. EPA and AEP v. Connecticut, concerning regulating and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Since federal climate change legislation has stalled in Congress, these two rulings are all the more significant in setting the stage for how greenhouse gas emissions are regulated in the United States. According to the rulings, greenhouse gas emissions are coveredby the Clean Air Act and thus fall under the regulatory jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency. This in effect cancels the possibility for private enforcement of emission limits on greenhousegases under federal nuisance law. No similar groundbreaking recedents have been issued by the high courts in Finland. But in contrast with U.S law, it seems that greenhouse gas emissions wouldnot be covered by the Finnish Environmental Protection Act and thus a plaintiff could under Finnish nuisance law pursue an injunction case against an emitter of greenhouse gases. Likewise, a plaintiffcould file a claim for damages under the Finnish Act on Compensation for Environmental Damage. In practice, however, a plaintiff’s injunction case as well as tort liability case seems to be doomed forfailure under Finnish law. Requirements set by the burden of proof and causality, among others, mean that Finnish nuisance and tort law are far from being effective means of enforcement or redress in thecontext of climate change liability.
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