Legal challenges for and against net zero

London Climate Action Week event: suing governments for taking climate action.

Research event
1 July 2022 — 11:00AM TO 12:00PM

Governments are putting in place, or are planning to introduce, a host of policies and regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and phase out fossil fuel production. The possibility of a legal challenge to such measures is a matter of concern as it may impede ambitious climate action. For example, can – and will – investors in fossil fuels sue governments on the basis that the ‘legitimate expectations’ they have with respect to their investments will be negatively impacted?

On the other hand, governments and central banks may also have lawsuits filed against them if they fail to take sufficient action to address or consider climate change. Noteworthy recent cases include Client Earth suing the Belgian Central Bank for contravening its legal obligations to consider environmental protection when purchasing corporate bonds; Greenpeace Netherlands challenging the Dutch government over support to the airline KLM in the wake of COVID-19; and Katta O’Donnell suing the Australian government for failing to disclose climate-change related risks when issuing sovereign bonds.

With the number of legal challenges for and against climate action on the rise, this Waddesdon Club webinar explores the following questions:

•    How is legal action against government and companies for lack of climate ambition likely to evolve in the coming years?

•    To what extent do existing international investment treaties support or undermine climate ambition?

•    How are ministries of finance, central banks and regulators, and investors addressing emerging legal risks relating to climate ambition?

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