Climate change-related litigation is a truly global phenomenon

15 April 2021 — Alexandra GUZUN
Climate change-related litigation is a truly global phenomenon
A new report that provides an analysis of the climate change litigation landscape, aiming to better define the boundaries of this growing global phenomenon and further understand its development and impact has been issued by The Geneva Association, in collaboration with leading legal experts.

Climate Change Litigation report examines the detailed typology, key drivers and global characteristics of climate change disputes. These will help to provide more clarity on the contours of this growing phenomenon, its impact and development, and the potential risks and opportunities that it entails.

Climate litigation is a fast-evolving field, reflecting the rapidly changing environment from which it arises. It is challenging for those not steeped in the subject to keep pace with the growing list of cases brought before the courts in different jurisdictions around the world. Climate litigation cases take many forms, for example, challenges to local planning law, shareholder actions against corporate leadership and constitutional claims seeking to force national- and local-level public policy changes.

The report examines the typology, backdrop and drivers of the climate change litigation landscape. It finds that:
  • Climate litigation cases can be classified in a variety of ways: by motivation, the type of litigants, and the extent to which the case is about climate change.
  • Climate litigation risk is being amplified by seven key factors: increased physical and transition risk; greater awareness of climate change; stronger climate commitments; accessibility to funding; evolving legal duties; developments in climate change attribution science; and the implications of COVID-19 on economic recovery and climate-related actions.
  • The emergence of global databases, novel ways of using cases from different jurisdictions, and growing networks in the legal community have led to the emergence of climate litigation as a truly global phenomenon.
  • There is clear evidence that strategic climate change litigation against particular corporate entities, referred to as 'carbon majors', is on the rise.
This report provides a cohesive mapping and analysis of the evolving global landscape of climate change litigation and related trends, including the nature of developments since the 1980s in different jurisdictions. These findings will help to guide the scoping of a systematic and holistic approach to monitoring this rapidly evolving and complex landscape as we look ahead.

The full report can be read here: https://www.genevaassociation.org/research-topics/climate-change-and-emerging-environmental-topics/climate-litigation

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