More and more individuals, communities, organisations and countries are considering climate litigation as 21 years of talks within UNFCCC have resulted in inadequate climate action. Climate litigation has seen tremendous progress worldwide as recent successful cases against governments in the Netherlands, Pakistan and the US show. This report assesses current and pending climate litigation in the light of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement was widely acknowledged to signal the end of the fossil fuel era, yet it does not explicitly use the words ‘fossil fuels’ throughout the entire document, nor does it contain any binding requirements that governments commit to any concrete climate recovery steps. Now, citizens and governments are beginning to seek redress in court with ground breaking cases emerging around the world, in a whole new area of litigation, some of which can be compared with the beginnings of - and based on some of the legal precedents set by - legal action against the tobacco industry. Other new strategies are focused not only on private industry but on the sovereign responsibility of governments to preserve constitutional and public trust rights to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere on behalf of both present and future generations.
Without this shift to judicial recognition and enforcement of sovereign governmental obligations to protect shared natural resources, including a healthy atmosphere, ocean and climate system, in accordance with the best available science, as well as private liability, legislative and executive action on the global domestic and international levels will remain as ineffective in the future as it has been in
Table of contents
1 The Paris Agreement
1.2 Towards climate justice
1.3 Loss and damage
1.4 Loss and damage and the Paris Climate Agreement
1.5 Does the Paris Agreement exclude liability and compensation?
2 Climate litigation
2.2 Legal actions against companies
2.2.1 Philippines: Human rights complaint against Carbon Majors
2.2.2 Germany: Peruvian farmer’s transnational case against R WE
2.2.3 United States: Tort cases against fossil fuel and energy corporations
2.2.4 United States: Investigations into climate deception by fossil fuel companies
2.3 Legal actions against governments
2.3.1 Netherlands: Negligence case against Dutch Government
2.3.2 Pakistan: Human rights case against Pakistani Government
2.3.3 Belgium: Human rights/tort case against Belgian Government
2.3.4 United States: Constitutional and public trust litigation against US Federal and State Governments
2.3.5 Pakistan: Public trust and human rights case against Pakistani Government
2.3.6 New Zealand: Judicial review proceedings against New Zealand Government
2.4 Immigration cases
2.4.1 Tuvalu immigration case
3 The role of litigation in other sectors
3.1 The role of litigation in tobacco control
3.2 The role of litigation in asbestos
3.3 The role of litigation in oil spill regulation
4 Intersection of climate litigation and the climate negotiations
4.1 Relationship between litigation, the negotiations and the fossil fuel industry
4.2 Will the Paris Agreement drive litigation?
4.3 What are the alternatives to litigation in the existing system?