Lawsuit-Supporting Academic: Attribution Science Was Designed Specifically To Bolster Climate Litigation

A prominent academic with direct ties to the climate litigation campaign confirmed in a recent E&E News article that so-called “climate attribution science” was designed specifically to support lawsuits against major energy companies. The comments undercut the credibility or objectivity of its proponents, including Peter Frumhoff of the Union Concerned Scientist who has been delivering different messages to public and private audiences about the use of attribution science.

Climate litigation supporters have claimed that attribution science should serve as objective evidence in lawsuits against major energy companies, as it purportedly links a specific amount of greenhouse gas emissions to specific operators, thus providing an avenue by which a court could assign damages to companies. Yet, as University of Oxford climate expert and litigation supporter Friederike Otto told E&E News, attribution science was created solely to bolster these lawsuits. As the article notes:

“But Friederike Otto, a climate expert at the University of Oxford who has worked with [Myles] Allen, said her efforts to link extreme weather events to climate change have always been tied to the possibility of legal action. ‘Unlike every other branch of climate science or science in general, event attribution was actually originally suggested with the courts in mind,’ she said.” (emphasis added)

This stunning admission from Otto undercuts any claim that attribution science should be viewed as a neutral or objective resource by courts of law or policymakers.

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