Litigants in Climate Governance | Joana Setzer
Over the past 20 years, courts around the world have been increasingly engaged in debates about the causes and consequences of climate change. High-profile cases against national governments or major emitters seek increased mitigation ambition or compensation for loss and damage (regulatory). Cases brought by corporations usually challenge climate and environmental regulations (anti-regulatory). In this presentation I present a review of the climate litigation literature. While there is a flourishing body of literature on the phenomenon, there are also considerable gaps that are yet to be addressed. I this presentation I will highlight some of the trends and gaps in this literature. Addressing these issues and questions will help to develop a deeper understanding of the extent to which litigation is a tool to strengthen climate governance (or to understand how litigation, under some conditions, may undermine governance efforts). For instance, litigation may develop into a decentralized mechanism to enforce the Paris Agreement at national and subnational scales. Moreover, by signalling the strength of civil society’s mobilization around this issue, it may change the expectations of firms and investors regarding the political and legal risks of inaction. The adjudication of climate change has the potential to shape norms and beliefs in the broader population regarding the salience of climate change and the responsibility of different actors but it may also provoke a judicial or popular backlash. And finally, it may lead to new legal rules redefining responsibilities and liability in the context of globalized externalities that are unequally generated and have unequal impacts across and within borders.