Joana Setzer is an Associate Professorial Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Her main areas of expertise are climate litigation and global environmental governance.

Since 2013 she has been involved, and since 2020 she leads the Grantham Research Institute’s Climate Change Laws of the World project – the most comprehensive global resource on climate policy and legislation.

Joana served as a Contributing Author for Working Group 3 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Review (IPCC AR6). She regularly advises a range of international, governments and non-governmental organisations. She is a frequent speaker at academic and non-academic events, and a regular source for media outlets. Joana is also co-Chair of the Climate Accountability working group of the Climate Social Science Network.


Joana was a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow (2016-2019). She holds a PhD (2014) and an MSc in Environment and Development from the LSE (2009), a Masters in Environmental Science from the University of Sao Paulo (2007), and an BA in Law from the Catholic University of Sao Paulo (2001). Prior to joining the LSE, she worked as an environmental lawyer in Brazil, and served as the external affairs coordinator of Regions4, a network that represents subnational governments at the international level in the field of sustainable development.

Research interests

  • Climate litigation
  • Subnational diplomacy
  • Multilevel climate and environmental governance
  • Climate change and environmental legislation


Research - 2024

This article examines the 14 climate-related complaints filed under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct prior to the adoption of the 2023 Update, showing how many of these cases illustrate the potential interlinkages between the human rights and climate change dimensions of the Guidelines. Read more

Using publicly available data on country- and company-level net-zero targets, this econometric analysis reveals a positive relationship between state and company: A country introducing a domestic net-zero target in law increases the likelihood of companies introducing their own voluntary targets and vice-versa. Read more

Research - 2023

Research - 2022

Research - 2021

This paper takes stock of recent developments in climate litigation, to make sense of the ‘rights turn’ identified by earlier studies. It maps pro and anti climate cases that rely in whole or in part on human rights arguments, using categories deployed in the literature on climate and on environmental rights litigation. The objective is to better appreciate the role of human rights law and remedies in climate action. Read more

Research - 2020

Research - 2019

Research - 2018

Research - 2017

Research - 2016

Research - 2015

Research - 2014

Research - 2013

Research - 2012


Policy - 2024

Policy - 2023

Policy - 2022

Climate litigation in Europe has emerged as a way to bring about more ambitious climate policies and actions from governments and companies and some European cases and decisions have been influencing litigants and courts around the world. This report provides a synthesis of information on the current state of development of climate change litigation on the continent. Read more

This report aims to enhance the legal community’s understanding of climate-related ‘greenwashing’ litigation, examining key cases and developments, particularly cases and complaints brought against the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, and offering practical recommendations to actors including companies, policymakers, NGOs and lawyers. Read more

Policy - 2021

Climate change framework laws are needed for the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement. This policy insight examines the elements that can be ‘built in’ to framework laws to specify accountability for the implementation of the core obligations contained within, based on a review of 43 such laws from the Climate Change Laws of the World database. Read more

Climate Change Laws of the World

Policy - 2020

Policy - 2019

Policy - 2018

Policy - 2017

Policy - 2015

Policy - 2014


Books - 2021

Books - 2019

Books - 2018


Events - 2022

Events - 2021

Events - 2020

Events - 2019

Events - 2018

Events - 2017


News - 2024

News - 2023

News - 2022

Annalisa Savaresi and Joana Setzer outline trends in climate cases that rely on human rights arguments to promote action on climate change – and also a growing body of ‘just transition’ cases that are questioning the distribution of the benefits and burdens being created by the drive to net-zero. Read more

News - 2021

Environmental constitutionalism has become a widespread phenomenon but now a group of nations is taking things further, adopting ‘climate constitutionalism’ and thereby placing themselves at the forefront of expressing climate concerns in the language of constitutional rights, as this commentary explains. Read more

Joana Setzer, Catherine Higham and Vibha Mohan provide evidence to complement the OECD’s own ‘stocktake’ of the Guidelines for MNEs by reviewing key developments in understanding of responsible conduct in the climate context, drawing on important climate litigation cases. Read more

This article considers the implications of a court case brought against Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands. If the case is successful it could force the company to sharply reduce its carbon emissions. The article also looks at the growing number of climate litigation cases against companies and companies as analysed in a recent study by the Grantham Research Institute at LSE. Read more

News - 2020

News - 2019

In advance of the final judgement in the landmark Urgenda v. State of the Netherlands climate litigation case, this commentary shines the spotlight on whether human rights can serve as a basis for obliging states to reduce their emissions, and on the justifications behind the minimum 25 per cent emissions cut stipulated by the Hague District Court. Read more

News - 2018

On 6 to 8 November 2018, LSE will be hosting the UK hearings of the Philippines-initiated inquiry seeking to attribute the impacts of climate change to the 'Carbon Majors' - the world’s largest fossil fuel and cement producers. This commentary provides some background to the hearings. Read more

News - 2017

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