Climate Litigation in the Global South: Constraints and Innovations
Cases involving climate change have been litigated in the courts for some time, but new directions and trends have started to emerge. While the majority of climate litigation has occurred in the United States and other developed countries, cases in the Global South are growing both in terms of quantity and in the quality of their strategies and regulatory outcomes. However, so far climate litigation in the Global South has received scant attention from the literature. We argue that climate litigation in the Global South opens up avenues for progress in addressing climate change in highly vulnerable countries. We first highlight some of the capacity constraints experienced in Global South countries to provide context for the emerging trend of strategic climate litigation in the area. In spite of significant constraints experienced, the strategies adopted by litigants push the climate litigation agenda forward as a result of their outward-looking objective of combating ongoing environmental degradation, and, on a doctrinal level, the way in which they link climate change and human rights. Bearing in mind the limitations resulting from the selective nature of the cases examined, we draw upon Legal Opportunity Structures (LOS) approaches and identify two reasons for innovative cases and outcomes in Global South strategic climate litigation: (i) how litigants are either overcoming or using procedural requirements for access to environmental justice, and (ii) the existence of progressive legislative and judicial approaches to climate change. The strategies and outcomes from these judicial approaches in the Global South might be able to contribute to the further development of transnational climate change litigation.
Setzer, J., & Benjamin, L. (2020). Climate Litigation in the Global South: Constraints and Innovations. Transnational Environmental Law, 9(1), 77-101. doi:10.1017/S2047102519000268