What is climate change litigation?
Produced in partnership with Katharina Theil of Leigh Day and Richard Lord QC of Brick Court Chambers

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with Katharina Theil of Leigh Day and Richard Lord QC of Brick Court Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is climate change litigation?
  • Key drivers to climate change litigation
  • Jurisdictional issues
  • Type of claim—claims against the government/public bodies
  • Constitutional law and human rights claims
  • Administrative law claims in respect of the application and enforcement of domestic or international climate obligations,
  • Judicial review of planning and other regulatory permissions
  • Type of claim—claims against corporations/ private entities in respect of contribution to climate change
  • Tort based liability: negligence and nuisance claims
  • Key issues
  • More...

What is climate change litigation?

Over the last decades, climate change has become an issue of ever-growing importance. With evolving scientific understanding of the causes of climate change and the current and anticipated impacts of global warming, there has been growing frustration at the speed of legislative and policy action. This is despite the continued efforts at intergovernmental level, including the Paris Agreement 2015, by which signatories commit to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to hold global average temperature increase to well below 2.0 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees.

For more information, see Practice Note: The Paris Agreement 2015—snapshot.

Increasingly, resort is therefore had to litigation and courts have had to deal with climate change arguments presented in various shapes and factual contexts. Indeed, the Paris Agreement has, far from reducing such litigation, provided impetus for it. This is because many national laws and policies fall far short, in terms of their intended or likely effect, of the Paris targets.

‘Climate change litigation’ potentially covers a broad range of claims but can be defined as any type of litigation that directly and expressly raises issues related to or arising from climate change policy and practice.

For further discussion of what can be or cannot be considered as climate change litigation, see: An Empirical Assessment

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