By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.
Climate change lawsuits have now been filed in at least twenty-eight countries, according to a new report Global trends in climate change litigation: 2019 snapshot, published last week by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.
I was alerted to this report by an account in the excellent Climate Liability News, Climate Litigation Has Become a Global Trend, New Report Shows.
The first such lawsuit was filed in 1990. More than three-quarters of these lawsuits have been filed in the US, where as of May 2019, 1,023 cases have been filed(report, p.2). This litigation is at present concentrated not only in the US, but also in other high-income countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, and Spain (see Table 1 below).
But this phenomenon is not limited to wealthy countries alone. The report noted that “despite significant capacity constraints, the number of legal cases in low- and middle-income countries has been growing in quantity and importance”:
These include cases in Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa, Colombia and Brazil. Litigants in these cases are seeking to hold governments to account for implementation and enforcement of existing mitigation and adaptation goals, embedding concerns about climate change in wider disputes over constitutional rights, environmental protection, land use, disaster management and natural resource conservation (Peel and Lin, forthcoming).
Climate change litigation in low-