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

33 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2018

See all articles by Jacqueline Peel

Jacqueline Peel

University of Melbourne - Law School

Hari M. Osofsky

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law

Anita C Foerster

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School

Date Written: October 10, 2018

Abstract

English 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.

Spanish Abstract: 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.

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

Suggested Citation

Peel, Jacqueline and Osofsky, Hari M. and Foerster, Anita C, A ‘Next Generation’ of Climate Change Litigation?: An Australian Perspective (October 10, 2018). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3264173

Jacqueline Peel (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia
+613 8344 1115 (Phone)
+613 9347 2394 (Fax)

Hari M. Osofsky

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law ( email )

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Anita C Foerster

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

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