Forging Global Rule of Law Through Litigation Against the United States and the Fossil Fuel Industry
4 Yearbook of International Disaster Law (Forthcoming 2022)
19 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2022
Date Written: July 18, 2022
More than a decade ago, researchers, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), had already concluded that "litigation is likely to be used increasingly as countries and citizens become dissatisfied with the pace of international and national decision-making on climate change." They were right: Climate cases have become a global phenomenon, expanding across jurisdictions and venues, and invoking international, national, and local laws. It has become clear that issues about responsibility for the climate crisis and for climate harms in the courts, in legal arguments, and in legal opinions will increasingly become commonplace, rather than exceptional. This global wave of climate litigation includes a case filed in a U.S. federal district court against the U.S. government and several cases filed in U.S. state courts against major investor-owned fossil fuel companies. In this article, I argue that these cases are particularly important for two related reasons. First, they seek to hold to account the country and entities that bear significant responsibility for the climate crisis. Second, these cases demonstrate how litigation can provide a mechanism for forging the rule of law in global climate governance, which necessarily includes international disaster law. While litigation cannot alone achieve this, it is essential, as it seeks to bring a judicial component to climate governance.
Keywords: climate crisis, climate litigation, global governance, attribution, loss and damage, climate law, climate accountability
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