Where are big climate pledges being tested? In court

Litigation is increasingly being used to hold government and companies to their climate promises, write Catherine Higham and Joana Setzer.

The World Today
2 minute READ

Catherine Higham

Coordinator, Climate Change Laws of the World, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science

Joana Setzer

Assistant Professorial Research Fellow, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science

A major concern following last year’s climate negotiations at COP26 was the credibility gap between the commitment to act by governments and companies on the one hand, and an increasingly sceptical civil society on the other. In the run up to COP27 in Egypt in November, accountability for climate commitments remains high on the agenda, while climate pledges remain insufficient to keep global warming to the 1.5C limit of the Paris Agreement.

Against this backdrop, climate change litigation has emerged as a crucial channel for advancing climate policy and ensuring accountability. Over 2,000 cases involving material issues of climate science or policy have been documented since the 1980s, a quarter filed between 2020 and 2022. Litigation will not solve the climate crisis. It remains a costly and risky strategy.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.