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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Related stories and components

13 June 2018

Commentary: The rising trend of climate change litigation is one to watch

Author: Maysa Zorob & Marion Cadier, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

"Are courts the new front line for climate justice?", 13 June 2018 ...

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7 June 2018

New Annual Briefing on legal accountability: Turning up the heat: Corporate legal accountability for climate change

This year's Corporate Legal Accountability Annual Briefing explores the rising trend of climate litigation brought against companies. Turning up the heat: Corporate legal accountability for climate change examines the opportunities and challenges for ...

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22 May 2018

USA: Lawsuit challenges oil & gas leases alleging Govt.'s failure to consider possible water contamination & climate change

Author: Ucilia Wang, Climate Liability News (USA)

"New Lawsuit Denounces Climate Impact of Montana Mining Leases", 21 May 2018...

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27 April 2018

New study analyses the impact of citing health concerns on success of climate change lawsuits

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17 April 2018

USA: Colorado communities file lawsuit against Suncor & ExxonMobil to hold them accountable for the costs of climate change

On April 17th, 2018, the Colorado communities of Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder filed a lawsuit against Suncor and ExxonMobil, with legal support from EarthRights International, Niskanen Center, and other co-counsel. The...

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17 April 2018

USA: State of Florida to face youth-led climate lawsuit over permitting & licensing fossil fuel activities

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16 April 2018

USA: Court rules Attorney General can request records to investigate whether Exxon concealed its knowledge of climate change

Author: Nate Raymond, Reuters

"Massachusetts top court rules against Exxon in climate change probe", 13 Apr 2018...

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9 April 2018

Colombia: Court recognizes right to healthy environment in youth climate lawsuit; orders govt. to protect Amazon rainforest

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4 April 2018

Netherlands: Friends of the Earth to file lawsuit against Shell if co. fails to address its climate change impacts

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9 March 2018

USA: Court allows youth climate lawsuit against Trump administration to proceed

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