Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
In the Peruvian Andes, climate change stokes fear of disaster. Above the city of Huaraz, glacial retreat has caused a mountain lake to grow dramatically and threaten a deadly flood. Government authorities built a dam in the 1970s, but fear this is no longer sufficient, and plan to build a larger one. Authorities assert that this infrastructure is necessary to prevent disaster in the short term.
This lake and dam have also become the subject of a legal dispute. An Andean farmer whose house lies below the lake sued the German energy giant RWE over its contribution to climate change. In a lawsuit that could set a significant precedent for climate liability, the farmer demands that RWE take responsibility for its greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to costs for flood prevention infrastructure. Like Peruvian authorities, the plaintiff’s lawyers at the German court argue that infrastructure is necessary to counter the risk of flooding, framing the issue in terms of global climate change.