Gaia argues the case for Earth Jurisprudence and learning from indigenous peoples, on BBC Radio 4 – Costing the Earth.

Costing the Earth – Can Lawyers Save the World?

BBC Radio 4 looks at how climate change has already claimed its first victims, and discusses possible legal solutions with a range of invited guests – including Liz Hosken, founding Director of The Gaia Foundation, Polly Higgins, Barrister and author of Eradicating Ecocide, and Dan Glass, climate activist and co-founder of Climate 9.

Displaced people from the Carteret Islands, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Niger delta have already become climate refugees but from whom can they seek refuge or even compensation? There is a call for legally binding agreements to protect those displaced and there are various legal cases in action that could set a precedent for compensation. In Alaska, 400 residents are suing energy companies for creating a public nuisance and for conspiracy (in funding research to ‘prove’ there is no link between climate change and human activity). Tuvalu, the low lying nation in the pacific, has threatened to sue Australia and the United States for their contributions to climate change and in the latest and most high profile case Katrina victims are taking the big oil companies BP, Shell, Chevron Exxonmobile, to court.

So far displaced people have not been defined as refugees so they have no legal rights but countries could be expected to take a number of migrants equivalent to their contribution or compensate victims for their loss. Sophisticated modelling could make it easier to attribute blame and a recent ruling in the European Court means that victims of environmental crime should find it a lot easier to take their cases to court. Big insurance companies are already warning their clients to expect compensation suits but there is still some way to go before precedent has been set in the case of climate change and nobody knows what will happen once these floodgates have opened.

Liz Hosken gives a compelling argument about the need for Earth Jurisprudence, learning from indigenous peoples and complying with the laws of the Earth.