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30 Jun 2022

Michael Mazengarb, Renew Economy

Australia is becoming a global hotbed for climate change lawsuits

New research published by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, found Australia is one of the most litigious countries for climate change related cases – ranking second globally for the number of climate litigation cases launched since 2020, behind only the United States.

A total of 124 climate change related legal cases have been launched in Australia, more than the United Kingdom (83 cases), and the entire European Union (60 cases).

Reflecting its famously litigious nature, the United States has been host to by far the highest number of climate cases launched, totalling more than 1,400 distinct climate change related lawsuits.

The report has been authored by Joana Setzer and Catherine Higham from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The researchers observe a growing diversity of legal strategies being adopted by climate litigants, including cases targeting government accountability for setting and achievement of emissions reduction targets, accountability for the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, and action against the public and private funders of fossil fuel projects.

...The research shows that climate litigation has been far from frivolous, with a majority (54 per cent) of the more than 450 cases launched outside of the United States resulting in findings deemed “favourable for climate action”.

The researchers say that while climate litigation to date has focused on launching action against governments and corporations – there is an emerging trend for legal action to be launched personally against individuals, such as company directors.

...“Also anticipated is a continued rise in litigation against governments and major emitters challenging commitments that over-rely on greenhouse gas removals or ‘negative emissions’ technologies, as well as cases that are explicitly concerned with the climate and biodiversity nexus,” the report says.