CLA News / Borneo Rainforest Law Conference session report: Does the polluter pay


After an energetic welcome from Chair John McKendrick KC, C Mohan Rao began with a challenge that the polluter does not really pay even though everything to do with global warming has a price. Despite recognition of the polluter pays principle since the Rio Declaration (1992), words like “reparation” and “liability” are still largely absent from global climate dialogues. There remains a massive gap between the available climate finance and amounts needed to achieve adaptation goals.

David Hertzberg explored how climate litigation can influence policy and why the incidence of loss and damage litigation is increasing. Climate litigation can result in immediate flow of funds to those impacted, as well as incentivizing flow of investment funds to greener business activities. It also has an important role in shaping the climate narrative.

Hung Yi Kuo explored Taiwan’s statutory response to carbon trading and transition to net zero. Loss and damage funds are not charity, but rather they are a commitment to a global just transition. The panel led a spirited discussion about reparations for past pollution and barriers to climate litigation such as standing, justiciability, procedural issues and cost risks.

Download C Mohan Rao’s presentation here

Download Hung Yi Kuo’s presentation here

Fiona Ey

CLA Council member, Samoa