Kingsnorth trial: Jim Hansen's full statement

Posted by bex — 12 September 2008 at 10:49am - Comments

James Hansen

James Hansen in conversation outside Maidstone Crown Court © Rezac/Greenpeace

I blogged bits of Hansen's spoken testimony on the day he gave it, but here's his written witness statement in full (pdf).

If you don't want to read through the whole thing, here are the summary facts (known, as Hansen writes, "by the UK government, by the utility EON, by the fossil fuel industry, and by the defendants at the time of their actions in 2007"):

(1) Tipping Points: the climate system is dangerously close to tipping points that could have disastrous consequences for young people, life and property, and general well-being on the planet that will be inherited from today’s elders.

(2) Coal’s Dominant Role: Coal is the fossil fuel most responsible for excess CO2 in the air today, and coal reserves contain much more potential CO2 than do oil or gas. Coal is the fossil fuel that is most susceptible to either (a) having the CO2 captured and sequestered if coal is used in power plants, or (b) leaving the coal in the ground, instead emphasizing use of cleaner fuels and energy efficiency.

(3) Recognized Responsibilities: The UK is one of the nations most responsible for human-made CO2 in the air today, indeed, on a per capita basis it is the most responsible of all nations that are major emitters of CO2. This fact is recognized by developing countries, making it implausible that they would consider altering their plans for coal use if the UK plans to continue to rely on coal-fired power.

(4) Recognized Impacts of Climate Change: The UK government, EON, and the fossil fuel industry were aware of the likely impacts of continuation of coal emissions, specifically impacts on future sea level, extinctions of animal and plant species, and regional climate effects, i.e., they were all aware that their actions would contribute to these adverse impacts, leaving a more impoverished planet for today’s young people and the unborn.

(5) Greenwash: Governments, utilities, and the fossil fuel industry have presented public faces acknowledging the importance of climate change and claiming that they are taking appropriate actions. Yet the facts, as shown in this document, contradict their claims. Construction of new coal-fired power plants makes it unrealistic to hope for the prompt phase-out of coal emissions and thus makes it practically impossible to avert climate disasters for today’s young people and future generations.

Recognition of these basic facts by the defendants, realization that the facts were also known by the government, utility, and fossil fuel industry, and realization that the actions needed to protect life and property of the present and future generations were not being taken undoubtedly played a role in the decision of the defendants to act as they did.

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