Legal action on climate change is spreading rapidly around the world, with challenges launched in at least 28 countries world wide according to a new report published by the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics.
An analysis of cases recorded worldwide since 1990 shows that climate change litigation is most prevalent in the United States but is also spreading to new countries. Since 2015, this includes cases recorded for the first time in Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Norway and Colombia.
Research indicates that the majority of legal actions have been launched against governments, both national and local. However, companies are also being targeted for ailing to incorporate climate change into their decision-making and failing to disclose climate risk to shareholders.
Citizens, non-governmental organisations, businesses and even local governments are taking businesses and governments to court for failing to protect them from the effects of devastating climate change, or for contributing to climate change in such a way that it impacts their health or livelihoods.
Joana Setzer, research fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and co-author of the report, said:
“Holding government and businesses to account for failing to combat climate change has become a global phenomenon.
“People and environmental groups are forcing governments and companies into court for failing to act on climate change, and not just in the United States. Now the number of countries in which people are taking climate change court action is likely to continue to rise.
“Until recently businesses might not have considered a climate change lawsuit to be a risk, but this is something all corporations should now be taking into account."
The analysis of the outcomes of lawsuits over this period also reveals that court cases that supported efforts to tackle climate change outnumber those that hindered these efforts in non-US jurisdictions (43% compared to 27%).