Hours went by. Our political friends were fretful and panicky as the clock ticked through the night. They squabbled and sparred, speculated and frowned, paced round and round the minister’s oak panelled office in despair. Occasionally one of them would emerge from the fog of cigar smoke with a brilliant idea. It would barely survive its birth, instantly sliced to pieces by the chilled blade of Klaxon-Schmitt’s mind. Sir Godfrey tipped over his single malt as he sprung up, blinded by a flash of his own political genius. But the fragment of an idea had evaporated before he could put it to words, and they could not even find a damp patch where it had been. Nor could Nat Eb find inspiration as he tore up his seventh rpc [1] into ever tinier pieces and made a collage of a topless black woman with red shoes.

Then at around 430am Stumpy had a genuine insight. “Has anyone read their paper?” They all shook their heads. “Well let’s start there,” he said.

“CASPER – the Class Action System for Polluters and Emitters. Enough is enough! The wheels of the free world no longer spin freely! Our lives are clogged with green tape! Enough government meddling! Enough socialist-inspired global bureaucracy! Bla bla bla,” read Gertrude.

“Powerful stuff,” nodded Sir Godfrey pensively.

“They’ve got a point, haven’t they?” said Nat Eb.

Gertrude read on. “CASPER will take a machete to the jungle of climate change regulation. We will slash and burn climate legislation, down to the last full stop. We will take the G out of GHGs.”

“House?” asked Sir Godfrey. “Whatever could they mean by that?”

“They mean taking the Government out of it, you dim-witted tyke,” snarled Klaxon-Schmitt. He could barely keep awake, and had no time for stupidity.

Stumpy polished his wooden leg for the umpteenth time. “They won’t win the green vote like that, though.”

“And we will replace it with a system far simpler and far more effective. A system which pits man against man, which sets rights against responsibility. A system which is fair and balanced and devoid of government intervention. In one fell swoop we remove thousands of pages of legislation, and replace it with a simple, clear principle: if emissions cause you harm, sue the emitter. Vote for CASPER and you vote for rights, responsibility and freedom!”

“Wow,” said Stumpy.

They sat in miserable silence. Stumpy’s whisky glass clinked against the decanter. Klaxon-Schmitt’s fingers tapped out the Lambada on his desk. Sir Godfrey gasped at the audacious simplicity of the policy and the blast of air shook the black woman’s bosoms.

“It’s watertight. There’s nothing we can do,” said Klaxon-Schmitt gloomily. “It’s principled and so simple. Just look at our hotch potch system of rules and regulations and rationing and trading schemes and standards and intervention and social engineering. How can that ever compete with something so pure and simple as property rights and tort? We might as well just throw in the towel. The libertarians have won this one.”

Sir Godfrey looked up. “Isn’t there something else we can focus on? Distract the voters’ attention from CASPER. What about printing more meat cards? What about relaxing the vehicle restrictions? Let’s throw in an extra weekend for car driving. It won’t make much difference, after all.”

“Or let’s bomb another factory in Shenzhen,” he suggested after a moment. Last time it really got people to rally round.”

“Hold on,” said Stumpy, frowning. “Gertrude, read on a bit. How are they planning to do all this?”

Gertrude leafed through the report. “Here it is, under the section ‘Implementation’… er …. Hold on… Yes … We will establish the IPCCCCC … The International Permanent Court for Climate Change Class Cases … Based in Bonn, Germany … A permanent court of 10,000 trained judges will deal with all cases brought under CASPER…”

“Hmmm,” said Stumpy. “Go on.”

“We anticipate several hundred thousand cases a year. To streamline the process we will establish a Case Panel which will be responsible for creating permitted standard cases (PSCs). Any claim will have to follow one of the PSCs…”

“Interesting,” said Stumpy. “Any more?”

“In order to ensure equitable access to the courts, we will establish the GCACAF, the Global Class Action Court Access Fund. This fund will provide up to $100 billion a year of funding for people in developing countries to have fair representation in the court.”

“Splendid,” smiled Stumpy. “Anything else?”

“Every country will have a Designated National Authority responsible for checking local claims before they are submitted to the IPCCCCC… ah .. and here,” said Gertrude,”… something about Designated Operational Entities … like a kind of independent company which will audit each case before it’s sent to the DNA for approval…”

“Perfect,” chuckled Stumpy.

“Each case will have to be documented in a CDD … a Claim Demonstration Dossier. It says … the CDD will probably compiled by an independent legal consultant.”

“Topping!” Stumpy looked round. Klaxon-Schmitt, Nat Eb and Sir Godfrey were slumped in their leather armchairs, fast asleep. 5:50am. A couple of hours to knock up the report for the PM.

Stumpy smiled. “The libertarians fight back. Not.”

“Not?” asked Gertrude.

“Oh, just a cultural reference from many, many years ago, my dear. Now, where does Klaxon keep his whisky? We’ve got work to do.”


1. rpc = reinforced paper can. Replaced aluminium and steel cans years ago.

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