Climate change litigation

Mary Robinson, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of Ireland, has said that climate change is “very likely, the single greatest human rights challenge of the 21st century.”? The consequences of climate change lead to severe loss and damage to people and the environment, having therefore a great impact on human rights (right to life, health, housing and food), especially affecting the most vulnerable populations.

Through careless management of their supply chains, greenhouse gas emissions and other type of pollution, companies’ behaviour can contribute to climate change. ?Some victims have made efforts recently to hold companies legally accountable for these impacts, and it appears as if this type of legal action is increasing. ?The following compilation of documents provides a resource for lawyers working on climate litigation issues. ?A broader approach to this topic can also be found in our Climate Justice section.

Resources on climate change litigation:

Climate Litigation wiki
Leave it in the Ground Initiative (LINGO)

Legal Briefing on Climate Litigation
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, June 2019

Turning up the heat: Corporate legal accountability for climate change
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, June 2018

Climate justice: international momentum towards litigation
Keely Boom, Climate Justice Programme, 2016

Expert workshop report: "Climate Change & International Human Rights Law: The Challenges for Business"
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre; Notre Dame Law School, May 2015

Sabin Centre for Climate Change Law, including Non U.S. climate change litigation chart
Columbia Law School, 2015

Achieving Justice and Human Rights in an Era of Climate Disruption
Intl. Bar Association Presidential Task Force on Climate Change Justice and Human Rights, 2014

Climate change litigation in the UK: An explanatory approach (or bringing grievance back in)
Chris Hilson, University of Reading, 2010

The tortuous road to liability: A critical survey on climate change litigation in Europe and North America
Luciano Butti, 2011

Analyses of issues to be addressed: Climate change litigation cases
Friends of the Earth Netherlands, 2007

Climate change and international human rights litigation: A critical appraisal
Eric A. Posner, Kirkland & Ellis Professor, University of Chicago Law School, 2007

Climate change litigation in the US
Arnold & Porter, LLP, 2007

Lawsuits against companies related to climate change

See our case profiles here.

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Related stories and components

29 April 2020

Netherlands: The Hague Court orders Dutch government to reduce emissions

Author: Jonathan Watts, Guardian (UK)

"Dutch officials reveal measures to cut emissions after court ruling", 24 Apr 2020...

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17 July 2019

Kenya: How advocacy groups successfully campaigned against the construction of proposed Amu Power's coal-fired plant

Author: Rasna Warah, The Elephant (Kenya)

"Saving Lamu: How a Campaign for Environmental Justice Was Fought"...

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8 July 2019

Kenya: Tribunal cancels AMU Power's coal plant license over public participation & climate change impact

The National Environment Tribunal? has cancelled AMU Power's proposed coal plant's environmental impact assessment licence issues by the National Environment Management Authority for?omitting engineering plans and details of the plant from public...

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25 June 2019

Climate Litigation against Companies: An Overview of Legal Arguments

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

For the past decade, climate litigation has been steadily rising across jurisdictions. Traditionally, these cases have been brought against governments, but there is now a steep rise in climate lawsuits brought directly against companies. This increase...

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25 June 2019
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Author: Centro de Información sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos

Durante la última década, los litigios climáticos han aumentado de manera constante en todas las jurisdicciones. Tradicionalmente, estos casos se han presentado en contra de los gobiernos, pero ahora hay un fuerte aumento en juicios por el clima,...

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15 February 2019

Netherlands: NGOs ready to sue Shell for acting irresponsibly in the context of climate change

Author: Dana Drugmand, Climate Liability News

"Shell Faces Lawsuit in the Netherlands, a New Legal Front in the Climate Battle", 12 Feb 2019...

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31 December 2018
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Author: Martin Bilterijs, RTBF (Belgique)

? "Contentieux climatique": la justice va-t-elle sauver la planète? ?, 28 décembre 2018...

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30 December 2018

2018 was marked by proliferation of climate change lawsuits against fossil fuel companies & govts. worldwide, reflect experts

Author: Dana Drugmand, Climate Liability News

"2018 in Climate Liability: When a Trend Became a Wave", 30 Dec 2018...

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14 December 2018

Student competition: What recommendations should the Philippine Human Rights Commission give as a result of the Carbon Majors inquiry? (due 1 March 2019)

Author: Environmental Science for Social Change

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines is currently conducting an inquiry to determine the impact of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights in the Philippines and the responsibility of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers in t...

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7 December 2018

Germany: Constitutional complaint filed against Govt. for putting human rights at risk over insufficient climate action

Author: Benjamin Wehrmann, Clean Energy Wire

"NGOs and citizens file lawsuit with Germany’s highest court to enforce climate protection", 23 Nov 2018...

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