Climate litigation has been on the rise, with the past ten years seeing massive growth. Recently, NGO Client Earth published a piece on using the law to fight climate change. The article discusses high-level strategies used by NGOs and populations around the world to combat climate change by bringing litigation against governments and corporations. The piece identifies three types of litigation used to advance climate causes:
- “Litigation brought against governments to hold them accountable for climate – including the increasing number of human rights-related claims
- Litigation brought against corporate actors – increasingly this includes banks and companies outside of the oil and gas sector
- Litigation brought on the basis of ‘greenwashing’, or misleading green promises – and increasingly concerns of the accountability gap between net zero ambition, or plans for Paris alignment and reality“
The article identifies three example cases where Client Earth is pursuing these strategies. The organization notes that while the global north has historically been the origin of most climate litigation, it is catching on and growing worldwide.
This is poised to become a major class of litigation. In the US, we saw a bombshell case come out of California in September when the state sued five major oil and gas companies. Additionally, we saw a complete trial in a climate case as sixteen young plaintiffs won against the state of Montana. Climate litigation is growing and the playbook is being written. As cases are successful, the legal strategies will be emulated by future plaintiffs. This makes staying on top of emerging litigation trends a must for anyone looking to manage their legal exposure. Our newest guidebook “Evaluating and Managing ESG Litigation Risks” is available to help.
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