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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:

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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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

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Canada: Govt. to face youth-led lawsuit over insufficient action on climate change

Author: Dana Drugmand, Climate Liability News

"Canada Faces Latest Youth-Led Climate Lawsuit", 27 Nov 2018...

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19 November 2018

USA: Crab fishers seek compensation for loss of livelihoods allegedly caused by climate change in lawsuit against 30 fossil fuel cos.

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"Crab Fishers Sue Fossil Fuel Industry Over Climate Change Damage", 14 Nov 2018...

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9 November 2018

USA: Judge blocks construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline; orders more thorough impact assessment

Author: BBC News

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7 November 2018

Commentary: Climate change litigation turns up the heat on corporations

Author: Cain Burdeau, Courthouse News Service (USA)

"Climate Change Litigation Turns Up the Heat on Corporations", 1 Nov 2018...

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6 November 2018

France: NGOs & local authorities threaten to sue Total if it fails to adequately address climate change crisis

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5 November 2018

RWE lawsuit: First test case in Europe to clarify responsibilities of carbon majors for climate change

Author: Dr. Roda Verheyen, counsel in Lliuya v. RWE AG, Roxana Baldrich, Policy Advisor and Christoph Bals, Policy Director, Germanwatch, April 2018

Marion Cadier speaks with Dr. Roda Verheyen (legal counsel in Lliuya v. RWE AG), Roxana Baldrich (Policy Advisor at Germanwatch) and Christoph Bals (Policy Director at Germanwatch) about the lawsuit brought by Saul Luciano Lliuya against RWE in...

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5 November 2018

USA: Supreme Court allows youth climate lawsuit to head to trial

Author: Umair Irfan, Vox (USA)

"The Supreme Court just allowed a major climate lawsuit to go ahead", 2 Nov 2018...

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29 October 2018

USA: New York files lawsuit against ExxonMobil for allegedly deceiving investors on climate change regulations

Author: Oliver Milman, Emily Holden, The Guardian

"Lawsuit alleges ExxonMobil deceived shareholders on climate change rules", 24 Oct 2018...

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