CLIMATE DOUBLE JEOPARDY
Double jeopardy prohibits different prosecutions for the same offense. This rule can come into play when a government brings a charge against someone for an incident, then prosecutes that person again for the same incident, only with a different charge.
For example, if a defendant is found not guilty of manslaughter in a drunk-driving incident, he or she cannot be tried again in criminal court. However, the deceased victim’s family is free to sue the defendant for wrongful death in a civil court to recover financial damages.
A situation of double jeopardy could possibly be invoked when an authority brings a charge against an electricity supplier for harmful combustion of fossil fuels. Improper waste disposal is an environmental crime and could be heard in a criminal court. If they are found not guilty, they cannot be tried again in the criminal court for the same incident with a different charge, for example pollution, However, the plaintiff is free to sue them in a civil court for wrongful polluting of air.
A defendant could maintain that non-renewable fuel combustion cannot be both polluting and resource – diminishing at the same time, for when that resource is not renewed, it cannot also cause pollution. The prosecutor cannot have a resource cake with pollution eating it at the same time.
The double jeopardy principle prevents courts contradicting each other.
Although the example situation above could not be dealt with by existing legislation, it could be a guide to fair treatment of alleged polluters from non-renewable resources. Resource depletion should be tested legally separately from alleged pollution.
The situation is notionally relevant to prosecution of fossil fuel compliance when neither pollution nor depletion have corroborating scientific evidence in Australia. A shifted climate science paradigm is explained in the novel Animal Farm 2.