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Can polluters be held legally responsible for the damage wrought by climate change?

When Typhoon Haiyan made landfall on November 8, 2013, Joanna Sustento wasn’t all that worried. Tropical storms are common in the Philippines. But this one was different. Water surged to chest level in her family’s house and forced her and six relatives to evacuate. Outside, the water kept rising. Sustento remembers feeling like she was inside a washing machine. The wind was cold as crushed ice. Waves swept her older brother, sister-in-law and nephew away. She saw her dad gasping for air. Currents kept dragging Sustento underwater. Finally she was able to grab a large piece of wood. She tried to pull her mom onto it but realized it was too late. Her mom had drowned. Sustento had to leave her mom’s body to make it to safety. “No words can explain how I felt,” the 25-year-old later recalled.

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