People attend a Climate March in Karachi, Pakistan, 16 July 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/SHAHZAIB AKBER

Climate change litigation doubled in 5 years, UN says

Nairobi, Jul 27 (EFE).- Cases of litigation related to climate change around the world have more than doubled in five years, with more people turning to courts to combat the climate crisis and hold governments and corporations accountable, the United Nations said in a report on Thursday.

The ‘Global Climate Litigation Report’ by the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) and Columbia University of the United States has found that the number of climate change cases has significantly increased from 884 in 2017 to 2,180 in 2022.

“Climate policies are far behind what is needed to keep global temperatures below the 1.5°C threshold, with extreme weather events and searing heat already baking our planet,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

“People are increasingly turning to courts to combat the climate crisis, holding governments and the private sector accountable and making litigation a key mechanism for securing climate action and promoting climate justice,” Andersen added.

Although most cases have been filed in the US, climate litigation is taking root all over the world, with about 17 percent of cases now being registered in developing countries, according to the report.

Moreover, it underlined that “the voices of vulnerable groups are being heard globally,” as 34 cases were filed by and on behalf of people under 25 and children as young as seven years old.

“As climate litigation increases in frequency and volume, the body of legal precedent grows, forming an increasingly well-defined field of law,” UNEP said.

Most of the climate litigation cases seek governments and private sector to enforce climate laws and policies, prevent fossil fuel extraction, end greenwashing and avoid climate harms and impact of climate changes.

“There is a distressingly growing gap between the level of greenhouse gas reductions the world needs to achieve in order to meet its temperature targets, and the actions that governments are actually taking to lower emissions,” said Michael Gerrard, Faculty Director at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

“This inevitably will lead more people to resort to the courts. This report will be an invaluable resource (…) to understand what is and is not possible there,” Gerrard said.

The report predicted in years to come a rise in the number of cases dealing with climate migration, cases brought by indigenous peoples, local communities and other groups disproportionately affected by climate change.

The report also anticipated a rise in “backlash” cases against litigants, which aim to dismantle regulations that promote climate action. EFE