More on “the Biggest Economic Showdown” You Never Heard of

May 19, 2014

Washington Monthly:

Close followers of the climate change battle have been watching carefully for one major event that might serve as a bigger catalyst than other to mobilize legislative action. But that event has nothing to do with weather or natural disasters. It’s about money. Specifically, the big money behind the insurance industry.

You see, in the same way that net neutrality advocates benefit from having the support of companies like Google and Netflix, climate change advocates have been waiting for their own unlikely corporate allies in the insurance industry.

The reason is obvious in retrospect: rising sea levels and more frequent natural disasters will either make many areas uninsurable, or insurance companies will go bankrupt trying to insure them (and the same goes for insurance backed by the federal government.) Insurance companies have an existential need to get ahead of the curve on the climate question. It has just been a matter of when the battle would be joined.

That time is finally here, and that’s a very big deal.

Chistian Science Monitor:

A major insurance company is accusing dozens of localities in Illinois of failing to prepare for severe rains and flooding in lawsuits that are the first in what could be a wave of litigation over who should be liable for the possible costs of climate change.

Farmers Insurance filed nine class actions last month against nearly 200 communities in the Chicago area. It is arguing that local governments should have known rising global temperatures would lead to heavier rains and did not do enough to fortify their sewers and stormwater drains.

The legal debate may center on whether an uptick in natural disasters is foreseeable or an “act of God.” The cases raise the question of how city governments should manage their budgets before costly emergencies occur.

“We will see more and more cases,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School in New York. “No one is expected to plan for the 500-year storm, but if horrible events are happening with increasing frequency, that may shift the duties.”

Gerrard and other environmental law experts say the suits are the first of their kind.

Lawyers for the localities will argue government immunity protects them from prosecution, said Daniel Jasica of the State’s Attorney’s Office in Lake County, which is named in the Illinois state court suit.

“If these types of suits are successful – where is the money going to come from to pay the lawsuits? The taxpayers,” he said. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, also named in the suits, declined to comment.

Several class actions accusing the Army Corps of Engineers of failing to secure levees breached during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were mostly dismissed last year on immunity grounds.

 

 

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5 Responses to “More on “the Biggest Economic Showdown” You Never Heard of”


  1. I’ve been waiting for this dog to bark for some time. There have been rumblings from re-insurers, but it now looks like the message has got through.

    Together with the growing issue of the stranded assets of the fossil fuel companies, the financial world is starting to wake up to the dangers of AGW and climate change.

    A tipping point all of their own maybe?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      IMO, a “tipping point all their own”? YES!

      Many Crock posts and comments have addressed this issue before, and it looks like good old greed and $$$$$ are finally surfacing big time. It has been said many times that threats to profits and bottom lines will be the only things that get the plutocracy and corporate oligarchy to pay attention to AGW, and we are now getting there.

      It IS unfortunate that we will have to play lawyer and financial manipulation games for a while before we get down to simply addressing the real problem—CO2.


  2. […] Close followers of the climate change battle have been watching carefully for one major event that might serve as a bigger catalyst than other to mobilize legislative action. But that event has nothing to do with weather or natural disasters. It’s about money. Specifically, the big money behind the insurance industry.  […]

  3. ubrew12 Says:

    Advocates for a green transition: “You can pay me now”
    Global insurance agencies: “Or, you can pay ME now”

    Love it. This is exactly where denial HAD to lead.
    Our children will pay them both, and be happy to do so. (so much for ‘low taxes’)


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