Global trends in climate change legislation and litigation: 2018 snapshot


Headline issues

  • All 197 Paris Agreement signatories or ratifiers have at least one law or policy on climate change.
  • There are more than 1,500 climate laws and policies worldwide; 106 have been introduced since the Paris Agreement was reached.
  • Strategic court cases against governments are seeing some success. More climate-related human rights cases are emerging.

Key messages

All Paris Agreement signatories or ratifiers have at least one law addressing climate change or the transition to a low-carbon economy. 139 have framework laws that address climate mitigation or adaptation holistically. These form a substantial legal basis on which further action builds. The challenge now is to strengthen existing laws.

Of the 106 new laws and policies passed since the Paris Agreement was reached, 28 explicitly reference the Agreement. Further analyses will be required to determine if these new laws and policies are consistent with the Paris Agreement and countries’ nationally determined contributions. Alignment between national and international goals will be pivotal to meeting the Paris targets.

A new wave of strategic court cases linking climate and rights is emerging. They make up a small number of the 1,000 climate court cases now identified but could have significant impact in holding governments and greenhouse gas emitters accountable for climate change.

Search for laws and litigation cases in our databases here

Last year’s snapshot is available here.