Climate change litigation guide

Practical, step-by-step toolkit to empower communities and lawyers to assess the viability of and take legal action to combat climate change

Action4Justice is delighted to announce the launch of our Climate Change Litigation Guide and associated materials.

Action4Justice is a network of CSOs and legal professionals united to support public interest litigation worldwide to advance social justice. We are a collaborative organisation whose objective is to share knowledge and resources. We have now produced and just published a practical, step-by-step Climate Change Litigation Guide. There is a growing realisation that the law can play an important part in solving the climate crisis. The Guide is designed to assist communities, CSOs and lawyers to assess the viability of and take legal action to combat climate change. In addition to this guide, we have created several complementary materials intended to assist potential climate litigants:

Templates for each of these legal responses to support those who wish to start legal action, so that they can draw on precedents from claim forms or similar documents;

Topic Sheets which are intended to be solutions to a specific legal problem that recurs in climate litigation (e.g. justiciability); and

Climate Litigation Matrix, which is a consolidated table intended to show a summary of the key legal issues and elements of various types of climate-related legal action.

The value of the Guide and materials will be measured by their impact in facilitating and assisting the utilisation of climate litigation at a time when it is becoming increasingly urgent and necessary to uphold rights and redress legal wrongs. We want it to be accessible to all those who may find it useful, especially in the Global South. Please share these with others in any way you think fit.

Climate change is a huge threat to our environment, communities and the enjoyment of our human rights. The climate is changing. There is consensus among climate scientists that governments are not doing enough to combat it and that many corporations are continuing to contribute to climate change by emitting excessive amounts of greenhouse gases (“GHGs”).

But society is not powerless. There are options for us to fight for climate justice. One of these options is climate litigation. Climate litigation means legal action that aims to combat climate change and involves arguments which are related to climate change.

This is a step-by-step guide designed to introduce you to a range of legal responses to climate change and help you think about which response may be right for you, your organisation or community. In particular, it provides guidance on taking legal action to:

The Scope and Purpose of the Action4Justice Climate Litigation Guide

This Guide is designed to help you think about whether climate litigation is right for you. It provides an introduction to different types of claims you could bring, legal strategies that could help you bring such claims, and highlights organisations and other resources that could help. You can also find a PDF copy of the Guide here.

The Guide is not a substitute for legal advice.

This Guide is general in scope. It looks at examples of laws and cases in different countries, outlines legal developments and provides general tips on legal strategy.

To bring a case, you have to know the law and legal system in your country.

If, after reading the Guide, you want to explore the possibility of taking climate litigation further, seek a lawyer or an organisation that could help you develop your case.

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