Baltimore Climate Lawsuit to be Appealed, Highlighting Litigation Campaign’s Shortcomings

A federal judge’s recent decision in the City of Baltimore’s lawsuit against energy companies is demonstrating how climate litigation can drag on, diverting attention and resources away from making changes that would improve the city’s environment and address climate change concerns.

On June 10, Judge Ellen L. Hollander of the United States District Court of Maryland ruled that the City of Baltimore’s case against 26 energy companies should be returned to the state court. Although this rules in favor of the plaintiff’s motion to remand the case to state court, this isn’t a clear-cut advantage for the plaintiffs. Judge Hollander stayed her order for 30 days, giving the defendants nearly a month to appeal her decision. The defendants had argued that the case belonged in federal court because the claims made in the lawsuit were of global impact:

“At bottom, Plaintiff’s theories are premised on the cumulative effects of global emissions. In seeking remand, Plaintiff asserts that its requested remedies— ‘damages and costs of abatement’— redress only alleged injuries ‘within its geographic boundaries,’ … But plaintiff seeks to hold Defendants liable for their global conduct, alleging harms resulting from decades of accumulation of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, the vast majority of which occurs outside of Baltimore and has no relation to Defendants.”

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