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Big emitters 'could be sued by climate change victims'

Victims of floods or other climate events made more severe by man-made warming could sue companies that are heavy carbon dioxide emitters, such as oil and power companies, according to a climate change expert.

Myles Allen, an Oxford University physicist, told the Guardian that a technique developed by his team could assess the effect man-made warming had on the severity of a climate event.

Comparing models of the event, one which includes human CO2 emissions since the industrial revolution and another that doesn't he claims he can assess the impact of man-made global warming.

Professor Allen: "We can work out whether climate change has loaded the dice and made extreme weather more likely. And once the risk is doubled, then lawyers get interested."

He added that lawyers did not get involved in the French heat wave of 2003, when 27,000 died because France, where most deaths occurred has a legal system which does not facilitate this type of case.

It may therefore be harder to chase international cases, even though the biggest impacts are felt in the least emitting, less developed countries.

UNICEF UK climate change project manager Lucy Stone said: "Climate change is already hitting the world's poorest children first and worst."

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