The projections of human-induced climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have many low-lying island nations gravely concerned about their vulnerabilities to sea-level rise and extreme weather. Small island states jointly contribute less than 1% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually yet may experience some of the most severe consequences of climate change. This article investigates whether Canada could be liable if one of these nations turns to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to compensate for environmental impacts flowing from GHG emissions. Given the uncertainty in the liability standard that would be applied by the ICJ in a claim of state responsibility, this article assesses whether Canada would be liable on the more strict standard of culpability than strict liability that of negligence. If the theory of "market share liability" were applied to the negligent portion of Canada's contribution to global GHG emissions (currently less than 2%), the percentage apportioning of damages could still be an enormous future liability.
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Phillip Barton, "State Responsibility and Climate Change: Could Canada be Liable to Small Island States? " (2002) 11 Dal J Leg Stud 65.