Climate change and law

In the last days of 2005, leading thinkers and scholars from around the world share their fears, hopes and expectations of 2006. As Isabel Hilton asks: What does 2006 have in store? (Part one)
Caspar Henderson
22 December 2005

openDemocracy's invitation to make a prediction for 2006 came to me shortly after I read Louis Menand's report on expert political judgment by the psychologist Philip Tetlock. This shows pretty convincingly that human beings who spend their lives studying the state of the world are worse forecasters than monkeys throwing darts at a board that depicts a range of possible future outcomes.

So in my attempt to look like a wise monkey, I will go for something that looks as if it has some mathematical likelihood. Currently, there are about ten cases against major corporations and other entities for their role in causing damaging climate change (see Climate Law). With the scientific basis for attributing liability becoming increasingly robust, and what with there being so many cases in process, my prediction is that at least one judgement will find in favour of the plaintiff during 2006.

A polluter being found liable and being penalised for emissions of greenhouse gases could do more to stir up the political debate surrounding climate change than almost anything else to date (which is not hard, given that the recent talks in Montreal "will not open any negotiations leading to new commitments").

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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