The report, entitled Global Climate Litigation Report – 2020 Status Review, noted the numbers of court cases in Battle Against Climate Change have been almost double in 2017.
Explained :The Role of Courts in Battle Against Climate Change
New Delhi (ABC
Live India): People, including children and indigenous communities, are
increasingly turning to the courts to compel governments and businesses to
respect and accelerate commitments on climate change.
to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), published today,
the number of climate change litigation cases has surged in the last four years
and now stands at 1,550 in 38 countries (39 including the courts of the
of 1 July 2020, some 1,200 of these cases were filed in the United States and
350 in all other countries combined.
report, entitled Global Climate Litigation Report – 2020 Status Review,
noted this was almost double the number identified in an inaugural
2017 UNEP report on the subject. That document listed 884 cases
in some 24 countries, of which 654 were in the United States and 230 in other
“This tidal wave of climate
cases is driving much-needed change,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive
Director. “The report shows how climate litigation is compelling
governments and corporate actors to pursue more ambitious climate change
mitigation and adaptation goals.”
of the legal actions have been launched against governments, including both
national and local authorities. However, companies are also being targeted for
failing to incorporate climate change into their decision making and for not
disclosing climate-related risks to their shareholders.
growing number of lawsuits are drawing on existing national and international
laws that guarantee citizens a fundamental right to a healthy environment.
Advocates have used such laws to force oil companies to keep fossil fuels in
the ground, hold businesses liable for pollution and compel governments to
enact climate-related policies.
one such case – the Urgenda climate case
- the Supreme Court of the Netherlands noted that the European Convention on
Human Rights, as integrated into domestic Dutch law, compelled the state to
protect its citizens’ right to life. The court ruled this obligation required
the government to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and limit global
businesses, non-governmental organisations, and even local governments are also
taking companies and national governments to court for failing to protect them
from the effects of floods, wildfires and other climate-related disasters.
date, no court has ordered a defendant to pay damages for contributing to
climate change. But the report warns that state-owned and private sector
companies risk significant liability for ignoring the effects of global warming
on their operations.
The report, developed with the
support of the Sabin Centre for Climate Change at Columbia University, found
litigation is being used to force companies to disclose climate-related risks
and end “corporate greenwashing”, the practice of making inflated
sustainability claims to distract from a questionable environmental record.
report said litigation is also being used to stop governments from evading or
weakening existing environmental legislation.
Brazil, for example, at least three lawsuits have been filed challenging
decisions to annul regulations on timber harvesting and seeking to reactivate
funds previously set aside to pay for efforts to combat Amazon deforestation
and climate change.
report noted that since 2017, more climate-change-related cases were now taking
place in the global south, including in Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Pakistan
and South Africa.