Science in Climate Litigation – Epistemic Communities at work
Siri Gloppen (UiB), Randall Abate (Monmouth University), Yann Robiou du Pont (IDDRI), Kikki Kleiven (UiB) and César Rodríguez-Garavito (NYU).
Epistemic communities is a term used by political scientist Peter Haas to describe networks of knowledge-based experts who enjoy social authority, and who attempt – and sometimes succeed – in having their ideas institutionalized within state policies and practices, including international treaties. In the context of the 1,587 climate change cases that have burgeoned worldwide, the role of epistemic communities is crucial: natural scientists help shape litigation by supporting lawyers and NGOs in understanding and mobilizing science for climate justice. But is the process that simple? How do these networks of knowledge work when science proves challenging, for instance to attribute specific climate effects to fossil fuel companies? Are courts becoming epistemic fora where international climate science is integrated in the legal reasoning through bottom-up pressure? Can climate science help expand traditionally anthropocentric concepts, such as human rights, to also encompass Nature and make Nature rights enforceable against companies?