Beauregard, Carlson, Robinson, Cobb and Patton, ‘Climate justice and rights-based litigation in a post-Paris world’

In spite of the 2015 Paris Agreement requiring all Parties, irrespective of their development status, to take climate action, the operationalization of climate justice in global climate governance and policy has been fraught. Other avenues, such as litigation, have emerged as a policy tool for seeking redress for past and prospective harm resulting from climate change. The academic and policy literatures have, however, had limited engagement with the role of rights-based litigation in climate governance since Paris. We help fill this gap by developing the four-component OATH (Objective, Associated climate impact, Type of justice, Harm) framework and applying it to three high-profile climate litigation cases – Urgenda v The Netherlands, Juliana v United States, and Demanda v Minambiente. Our analysis confirms that the progress and achievements of these cases demonstrate the potential of climate litigation to force greater national and sub-national government action on climate change. However, litigation better serves some types of justice (eg intergenerational) than others (eg distributive). Therefore, as its ambition and progress continue to grow, litigation must be combined with other forms of climate action to better advance justice in a post-Paris world.

Charles Beauregard, D’Arcy Carlson, Stacy-Ann Robinson, Charles Cobb and Mykela Patton, Climate justice and rights-based litigation in a post-Paris world, Climate Policy, Received 6 August 2020, Accepted 16 December 2020, Published online: 8 January 2021.

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