Legal action on climate change spreading

Climate change lawsuits have been launched in at least 28 countries around the world, according to a new report published by the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

An analysis of cases recorded worldwide since 1990 shows that climate change litigation is most prevalent in the US but is spreading wider. Most of the legal actions have been launched against governments, but companies are also being targeted for failing to incorporate climate change into their decision-making, and for failing to disclose risks to their shareholders.

The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment published its analysis, Global trends in climate change litigation: 2019 snapshot, as part of London Climate Action Week.

A previous study by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University revealed that since the election of Donald Trump, lawsuits brought in the US are more likely to support efforts to tackle climate change than to hinder them. The analysis of the objectives of 154 lawsuits filed in the United States between 2017 and 2018 revealed that 84 per cent (129) seek to support efforts to tackle climate change compared to just 16 per cent (25) that seek to hinder these efforts.

Joana Setzer, research fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and co-author of the report, said: “Holding government and businesses to account for failing to combat climate change has become a global phenomenon. People and environmental groups are forcing governments and companies into court for failing to act on climate change, and not just in the US. Now the number of countries in which people are taking climate change court action is likely to continue to rise.”

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