Listening in the carbon majors inquiry hearings

Today was the last day of the hearings of the Philippine Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the responsibility of major carbon emitting companies for human rights violations in response to a petition filed by a group of Filipino citizens and civil rights organizations.

I was sitting in the hearings yesterday and today in the LSE moot court room, which was packed to the brim. My interest was mainly in law-science transposition, particularly in arguments about scientific attribution and legal causation in the framework of ‘scales’, which was the topic of an earlier workshop that I had organised: since the publication of Richard Heede’s 2014 report about tracing back anthropogenic carbondioxide and methane emission to major carbon producing companies, there have been attempts to link questions of legal accountability to such attribution of emission through litigation.  Interestingly, as Dr Myles Allen, the co-author of the 2018 IPCC Report of 1.5 degrees, has also noted today, there has been no dispute about the scientific validity and truth value of ‘science’. ‘Science’ and its methodology was left very much untested or unopened by the Commission.

The expert and witness opinions also made me think of the heterogenous elements which materialise ‘law’: location of the hearings (New York, London, and live streamed archived in the www); technologies of bringing the matter together; issues of law’s mobility, mobilisation of networks; the discursive construction of legal matters, which have the ability to materialise something which is not visible, such as global warming; the difficulty of establishing a legal matter despite real, physical, material harm as told in the powerful testimonies of typhoon survivors. There were also simultaneous fluidity and disclaimer brackets between disciplinary expertise.

Concise info and timeline of this ‘law in the making’ is here:

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