A "Next Generation" of Climate Change Litigation?: An Australian Perspective

Authors

  • Jacqueline Peel Professor of Law; Associate Dean Melbourne Law Masters, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
  • Hari Osofsky Dean, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs
  • Anita Foerster Senior Research Fellow, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Keywords:

Strategic litigation, climate change, impact litigation, legal avenues, access to justice, accountability, Litigación estratégica, cambio climático, litigación de impacto, vías legales, acceso a la justicia, responsabilidades

Abstract

Since conclusion of the Paris Agreement and the high-profile Urgenda case, potential new avenues for strategic climate litigation have received considerable attention in many countries, including Australia. Australia already has a substantial climate jurisprudence, primarily involving administrative challenges under environmental laws. This paper aims to examine the prospects for a “next generation” of cases focused on holding governments and corporations to account for the climate change implications of their actions. We draw on analysis of existing legal precedent and emerging cases to explore four key aspects: drivers for next generation lawsuits, potential legal avenues, and likely enablers and barriers. The paper uses the Australian experience as a case study but draws also on litigation trends globally. We find that the most fruitful strategy for future climate change litigation is likely to be one that advances lower risk cases building from the base of existing litigation, while simultaneously attempting novel approaches.

Desde los Acuerdos de París y el caso Urgenda, varios países han prestado mayor atención a los litigios estratégicos sobre el clima. Australia ya tiene una notable jurisprudencia sobre el clima, especialmente en cuanto a los desafíos que para la administración suponen las leyes ambientales. Este artículo analiza las posibilidades de una “nueva generación” de casos basados en pedir responsabilidades gubernamentales y empresariales. Partimos de antecedentes jurídicos y de casos emergentes para explorar cuatro cuestiones claves: los motores para demandas judiciales, posibles vías legales, y capacitadores y obstáculos probables. Se usa la experiencia de Australia como estudio de caso, pero también se traen a colación tendencias judiciales globales. Hallamos que la estrategia más provechosa es propulsar casos de menor riesgo desde la base de los litigios existentes, a la vez que ensayar nuevos abordajes.

Available from: https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1060

Author Biography

Jacqueline Peel, Professor of Law; Associate Dean Melbourne Law Masters, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Dr Jacqueline Peel is a Professor of Law at the Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Australia. Her research focuses on areas of domestic and international environmental law including climate change, the intersections between law and science, and the precautionary principle.

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Published

27-10-2017

How to Cite

Peel, J., Osofsky, H. and Foerster, A. (2017) “A "Next Generation" of Climate Change Litigation?: An Australian Perspective”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 9(3), pp. 275–307. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/951 (Accessed: 7 May 2021).