Tracking the Lawsuits Fighting for Climate Accountability

About the Tracking the Lawsuits Fighting for Climate Accountability Series

Courts are emerging as a new battleground in the climate change fight. From cases over public policy in Europe to fossil fuel industry advertising from ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute in the United States, lawsuits seeking to hold governments and corporations accountable for the fossil-fueled climate crisis are on the rise. DeSmog is covering important developments in climate accountability lawsuits, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Watch this space for updates. And check out the Climate Investigations Center’s Climate Lawsuit Index for the complaints and referenced source documents.

In This Series

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Individuals are expected to be a growing target of legal action on climate change, with activists, investors, and regulators looking carefully at how companies and their boards disclose and respond to climate risks.

Individuals are expected to be a growing target of legal action on climate change, with activists, investors, and regulators looking carefully at how companies and their boards disclose and respond to climate risks.
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The decision of one Appeal Court judge left hope that future projects could be required to consider emissions produced when fossil fuels are burned, which dwarf those caused by the extraction process.

The decision of one Appeal Court judge left hope that future projects could be required to consider emissions produced when fossil fuels are burned, which dwarf those caused by the extraction process.
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A new report suggests that lawsuits alleging false or misleading “climate-washing” claims are increasing and “pushing the cause forward.”

A new report suggests that lawsuits alleging false or misleading “climate-washing” claims are increasing and “pushing the cause forward.”
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A judge said the claimants’ focus on specific years when the companies received more in tax breaks than they sent to the government was “nonsensical”.

A judge said the claimants’ focus on specific years when the companies received more in tax breaks than they sent to the government was “nonsensical”.
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The judicial review, brought against the government's Oil and Gas Authority and business secretary, comes a week after Shell pulled out of the Cambo North Sea project.

The judicial review, brought against the government's Oil and Gas Authority and business secretary, comes a week after Shell pulled out of the Cambo North Sea project.
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The Giudizio Universale lawsuit heads to court in December. It is one of many climate cases initiated by civil society in more than 40 countries around the world.

The Giudizio Universale lawsuit heads to court in December. It is one of many climate cases initiated by civil society in more than 40 countries around the world.
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Campaigners have said they will appeal the decision and believe the government's plans are "more at risk of being cut back this autumn than ever".

Campaigners have said they will appeal the decision and believe the government's plans are "more at risk of being cut back this autumn than ever".
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The case was brought by the coastal town of Grand-Synthe in northern France, particularly vulnerable to warming temperatures as sea levels rise.

The case was brought by the coastal town of Grand-Synthe in northern France, particularly vulnerable to warming temperatures as sea levels rise.
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England’s strategic road network is already responsible for more than 10 percent of the UK’s domestic carbon emissions.

England’s strategic road network is already responsible for more than 10 percent of the UK’s domestic carbon emissions.
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Most of the lawsuits analysed did not quantify the extent to which climate change was responsible for the impacts suffered by plaintiffs, known as "attribution science".

Most of the lawsuits analysed did not quantify the extent to which climate change was responsible for the impacts suffered by plaintiffs, known as "attribution science".
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Last week, the government said it would keep issuing new oil and gas exploration licences, contradicting recommendations from a recent high-profile report by the International Energy Agency.

Last week, the government said it would keep issuing new oil and gas exploration licences, contradicting recommendations from a recent high-profile report by the International Energy Agency.
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"This is a turning point in history," said an attorney who noted that the ruling "may also have major consequences for other big polluters."

"This is a turning point in history," said an attorney who noted that the ruling "may also have major consequences for other big polluters."
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How the court handles two separate cases could shape the future of climate lawsuits across the world.

How the court handles two separate cases could shape the future of climate lawsuits across the world.
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The UK government has ignored campaigners' calls to refuse new licences for fossil fuel extraction in the North Sea.

The UK government has ignored campaigners' calls to refuse new licences for fossil fuel extraction in the North Sea.
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The French state has been found guilty of climate inaction in what campaigners have dubbed “the case of the century”.  Today the Paris administrative court concluded France has failed to...
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Norway’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled not to overturn the Norwegian government’s approval of new licenses for offshore oil drilling in the fragile Arctic region. The ruling – a culmination of fo...
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This year — with its converging crises, from the coronavirus pandemic to longstanding racial injustice to climate-related disasters — was also a remarkably active time for climate litigation. All a...
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Campaigners opposing Heathrow expansion today remained defiant as a top court ruled that the government’s decision to approve it was legal. The Supreme Court concluded that the UK go...
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Shell has appeared in court in the Netherlands accused of breaching its duty of care obligations and human rights law by failing to take strong action on climate change. The climate litigatio...
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On January 19, 2021 — just one day before President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office — the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a climate change accountability lawsuit brought by Balti...
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An unprecedented climate lawsuit brought by six Portuguese youths is to be fast-tracked at Europe’s highest court, it was announced today. The European Court of Human Rights said the case, which a...
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An unprecedented climate lawsuit brought by six Portuguese youths is to be fast-tracked at Europe’s highest court, it was announced today. The European Court of Human Rights said the case, which a...
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A French court this week issued what climate campaigners are calling a “historic decision” in the fight to hold national governments accountable for insufficient action to address the climate crisi...
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The Supreme Court of Norway is set to rule in a high-profile climate change lawsuit challenging the Norwegian government’s licensing of new offshore oil drilling in the fragile and rapidly warming ...
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The Federal Court of Canada has decided to dismiss a climate lawsuit based on constitutional rights and brought by 15 young Canadians against the federal government. The decision, issued October 27...
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September saw a flurry of new lawsuits filed by cities and states against major fossil fuel companies over the climate crisis and the resulting impacts that are already being felt. After Hoboken, N...
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On Wednesday, September 23, several members of Congress introduced a resolution in both houses that supports the principles and demands of the 21 youth suing the U.S. government in the landmark con...
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As rampant wildfires worsened by climate change continued to batter the western U.S. this week, a Washington state appeals court examined the question of whether young people should be allowed to s...
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This week, a group of eight Australian teens has brought a groundbreaking new climate change lawsuit against Australia’s Federal Minister for the Environment in an effort to stop a proposed coal mi...
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Delaware, the home state of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, announced on Thursday, September 10 that it is taking dozens of major oil and gas companies including BP, Chevron, and Exxon...
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Six young people from Portugal have filed an unprecedented climate change lawsuit against almost all of Europe, targeting 33 European nations for failing to take adequate action on the climate cris...
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New Jersey has now joined the wave of lawsuits seeking to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for climate impacts. The city of Hoboken today filed a case against major oil and gas companies a...
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As blistering wildfires and a monstrous hurricane fueled by rising temperatures ravage the U.S., Senate Democrats this week released their action plan for combating the climate crisis and building ...
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Advocates for holding fossil fuel companies accountable in court for the substantial costs of climate change are urging New Jersey to sue oil majors like ExxonMobil, as over a dozen municipal and s...
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The Supreme Court of Ireland has ruled in favour of an environmental group challenging the Irish government’s climate plans, finding its policies did not meet legal requirements for detailing how t...
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Climate litigation is not going away any time soon. Lawsuits demanding accountability and action on the existential threat of climate change continue to take hold across the world with some signif...
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On Tuesday, June 30, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, released a comprehensive action plan for...
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Washington, D.C. is suing the four largest investor-owned oil and gas companies — BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell — for allegedly misleading consumers about climate change, including historicall...
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Minnesota has officially joined the climate accountability movement with the announcement on Wednesday, June 24 of a groundbreaking lawsuit against fossil fuel behemoths such as ExxonMobil and Koch...
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ExxonMobil is facing yet another lawsuit challenging the corporation’s allegedly deceptive behavior related to climate change. The latest suit, filed May 15 in the D.C. Superior Court, claims the o...
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Environmental lawyers have made a formal complaint against oil giant BP, claiming its latest advertising campaign is misleading consumers about its commitment to tackling climate change. The ...
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Originally published on Climate Liability News. Climate change-related lawsuits, once mostly limited to the U.S., have now been filed in nearly 30 countries, targeting governments and corporate po...