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Article

30 Jun 2022

Author:
Isabella Kaminski, Guardian (UK),
Author:
// Laurent Radisson, Actu-Environnement

Fossil fuel industry faces surge in climate lawsuits

The world’s most polluting companies are increasingly being targeted by lawsuits challenging their inaction on climate change and attempts to spread misinformation, according to a new report.

Research by the London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment found a surge in legal cases against the fossil fuel industry over the past year – especially outside the US – and growing action in other corporate sectors.

People have been filing legal challenges on climate change grounds since the mid-1980s, but it is a strategy that has recently come into its own. The number of climate change-related litigation lawsuits around the world has more than doubled since 2015 and roughly one quarter of the 2,002 recorded cases to date were filed in the past two years alone...

...[T]he fossil fuel industry is increasingly within the sights of campaigners. At least 13 cases have been filed against the largest Europe-based polluters and at least two in Australia against gas company Santos. Exxon, Eni and Sasol are all also involved in challenges to government decisions about oil and gas exploration and licensing in Guyana and South Africa.

The food and agriculture, transport, plastics and finance sectors are increasingly targets as well, the report finds.

Many of these cases attempt to tackle greenwashing...

...[L]egal challenges have had tangible impacts in the private sector. South Korean export credit agency Kexim, for example, recently announced it would delay its final decision on whether to finance a gas project off the shore of Australia two weeks after traditional owners filed a case challenging it. It cited “environmental and legal risks” as the reason.

...[C]ompanies should brace for claims focusing on personal responsibility (such as the duties of company directors to manage climate risks) and international lawsuits on loss and damage...

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