Further Legal Angles
There are many additional arguments and strategies to be tested and pursued at the court. Moreover, many ongoing developments spread hope about the future of climate change litigation. Below is a non-exhaustive list. Are you interested in taking any of these up?
- ‘In Poland, an environmental association bought shares in an energy company and sued the company as a shareholder from within (ClientEarth v. Enea). They claim that the Management Board and Supervisory Board’s decision to build a new coal power plant was a violation of fiduciary duties of care and a breach of the duty to act in the best interests of the companies and their shareholders, due to the climate-related financial risks of that power plant.’
Corporate and pension law
- Risk disclosure, insurance and investment are key words here. Investors and companies can actively contribute to the fight against climate change.
Holding the legal industry to account
- When it comes to the legal industry, a first principle of addressing the climate crisis could be "do no harm." An analysis by Law Students for Climate Availability looked at the top 100 law firms in the United States and found that the majority are doing far more work for clients exacerbating the climate crisis than those working to solve it. Often this work involves defending fossil fuel interests in litigation or lobbying on their behalf. Law students and lawyers have an opportunity to put pressure on their firms to adopt business practices that match the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Professional Development of Judges
- NGOs, like Client Earth create large scale change by training judges in environmental law and supporting the development of environmental courts, as for example in China.
- The World Commission on Environmental Law is working to create and compile a ‘Best Practice guide for Judges and Courts’.
- Amicus curiae briefs are another strategy to get your climate-unconscious judges up to speed.
Human Rights and Climate Change
- We are yet to see successful international cases brought to international courts and tribunals, such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court(ICC), or the Tribunal for the International Law of the Sea.
See also the Human Rights page on this wiki.
So far this is a concept within sustainable development and has been referred to in numerous high-level judgements. However, no climate cases have been decided on the basis of intergenerational equity alone.
Rights of Nature
- UN Harmony with Nature Chronology
- International Rights of Nature Tribunal
- Environmental personhood. Wikipedia.
- Nature as a legal person. Shelton, 2015.
- Who needs rights of Nature? Kersten, 2017.
- What if nature became a legal person? Toledo, 2020.
Developing new laws
This is another avenue that lawyers can explore, together with progressive forces in the political system, such as members of Climate Parliament or GLOBE. For example, the LPDD project is working on Model Laws for Deep Decarbonization] in the US.
Check out these pages and platforms and organizations to stay up-to-date:
- Climate litigation Network
- Pay Up Climate Polluters
- Climate Docket
- Newsletters by the Sabin Center at Columbia University