Tracking the Lawsuits Fighting for Climate Accountability

About the 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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The Federal Court of Appeal said “the burden of addressing [climate] consequences will disproportionately affect Canadian youth.”

The Federal Court of Appeal said “the burden of addressing [climate] consequences will disproportionately affect Canadian youth.”
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The Hawaii Supreme Court denied fossil fuel companies’ appeal, allowing the case to proceed to discovery.

The Hawaii Supreme Court denied fossil fuel companies’ appeal, allowing the case to proceed to discovery.
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Shell's fuel and chemical terminal in New Haven isn't ready to withstand extreme storms and flooding, activist lawyers have charged.

Shell's fuel and chemical terminal in New Haven isn't ready to withstand extreme storms and flooding, activist lawyers have charged.
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Activists hope that more and bigger court wins will break the "grinding gridlock" on policies to end use of fossil fuels.

Activists hope that more and bigger court wins will break the "grinding gridlock" on policies to end use of fossil fuels.
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Lawsuit filed against five oil and gas majors and API demands they pay for their decades of deception.

Lawsuit filed against five oil and gas majors and API demands they pay for their decades of deception.
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Montana court’s recognition of “overwhelming scientific consensus” that fossil fuel production and use is dangerous, shows that climate science is relevant to court decisions.

Montana court’s recognition of “overwhelming scientific consensus” that fossil fuel production and use is dangerous, shows that climate science is relevant to court decisions.
Analysis
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Eni’s legal threat reflects a growing trend of petro-firms using dubious lawsuits to quash activism, intimidate critics, and dodge accountability.

Eni’s legal threat reflects a growing trend of petro-firms using dubious lawsuits to quash activism, intimidate critics, and dodge accountability.
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Honolulu has sued Big Oil over the costs of adapting to weather extremes – including bigger fire risks.

Honolulu has sued Big Oil over the costs of adapting to weather extremes – including bigger fire risks.
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“Game-changer ruling” has implications for future climate change lawsuits in the US and around the world.

“Game-changer ruling” has implications for future climate change lawsuits in the US and around the world.
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New report details how more “climate-washing” lawsuits and complaints are being filed against corporations’ greenwashing than ever before, and experts warn complicit PR and ad firms could face legal risks.

New report details how more “climate-washing” lawsuits and complaints are being filed against corporations’ greenwashing than ever before, and experts warn complicit PR and ad firms could face legal risks.
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Department of Justice request seeks to shut courthouse doors on young people and climate science.

Department of Justice request seeks to shut courthouse doors on young people and climate science.
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The climate lawsuit filed by Multnomah County is the first to name consulting firm McKinsey & Company as a defendant.

The climate lawsuit filed by Multnomah County is the first to name consulting firm McKinsey & Company as a defendant.
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The state canceled two of its three expert witnesses and those who testified repeatedly emphasized that they are not scientists.

The state canceled two of its three expert witnesses and those who testified repeatedly emphasized that they are not scientists.
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The state has never denied a permit for a fossil fuel project, despite its constitution’s guarantee of the right to a clean and healthful environment.

The state has never denied a permit for a fossil fuel project, despite its constitution’s guarantee of the right to a clean and healthful environment.
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The landmark trial marks the first time in US history that kids are testifying in court about the effects of climate change on their wellbeing.

The landmark trial marks the first time in US history that kids are testifying in court about the effects of climate change on their wellbeing.
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The trial starts June 12 – despite the legislature's fast-tracked changes to energy and environmental policies.

The trial starts June 12 – despite the legislature's fast-tracked changes to energy and environmental policies.
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Suing under an organized crime statute, the New Jersey city says major oil and gas companies and their chief lobbying group have “conspired to deceive the world for decades.”

Suing under an organized crime statute, the New Jersey city says major oil and gas companies and their chief lobbying group have “conspired to deceive the world for decades.”
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The court’s denial of petitions in a handful of climate cases clears the way for them to proceed in state courts.

The court’s denial of petitions in a handful of climate cases clears the way for them to proceed in state courts.
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Document warning that civilisation could prove a "fragile thing" is used to bolster District of Columbia lawsuit against Big Oil.

Document warning that civilisation could prove a "fragile thing" is used to bolster District of Columbia lawsuit against Big Oil.
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World-first climate lawsuit challenging a state’s transportation system will go to trial this fall.

World-first climate lawsuit challenging a state’s transportation system will go to trial this fall.
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European Court of Human Rights holds first-ever hearings on climate, while the UN adopts a landmark resolution asking the International Court of Justice to weigh in on countries’ legal responsibility to safeguard the climate system.

European Court of Human Rights holds first-ever hearings on climate, while the UN adopts a landmark resolution asking the International Court of Justice to weigh in on countries’ legal responsibility to safeguard the climate system.
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Sixteen Montana children and teens have sued the state, saying Montana’s promotion of oil, coal, and gas despite the climate emergency violates their state constitutional rights.

Sixteen Montana children and teens have sued the state, saying Montana’s promotion of oil, coal, and gas despite the climate emergency violates their state constitutional rights.
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Solicitor General’s brief backs communities’ position that climate liability litigation belongs in state court, a technical fight that has delayed many accountability lawsuits.

Solicitor General’s brief backs communities’ position that climate liability litigation belongs in state court, a technical fight that has delayed many accountability lawsuits.
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The legal action represents a world-first climate lawsuit against a commercial bank.

The legal action represents a world-first climate lawsuit against a commercial bank.
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A dozen young people have brought a constitutional climate case against the Austrian government, part of a growing wave of youth-led climate litigation.

A dozen young people have brought a constitutional climate case against the Austrian government, part of a growing wave of youth-led climate litigation.
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With the Canadian government still boosting fossil fuels, it’s time for young Canadians’ day in court, argue lawyers suing the government.

With the Canadian government still boosting fossil fuels, it’s time for young Canadians’ day in court, argue lawyers suing the government.
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Shell admits in internal documents it has “no immediate plans to move to a net-zero emissions portfolio.”

Shell admits in internal documents it has “no immediate plans to move to a net-zero emissions portfolio.”
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The past year saw major developments in accountability cases against oil companies and national governments around the world, as well as setbacks for several high-profile fossil fuel projects.

The past year saw major developments in accountability cases against oil companies and national governments around the world, as well as setbacks for several high-profile fossil fuel projects.
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Municipalities aim to hold industry liable for damages from catastrophic 2017 hurricanes.

Municipalities aim to hold industry liable for damages from catastrophic 2017 hurricanes.
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Fossil fuel defendants in climate liability lawsuits keep losing in their bids to keep cases in federal courts.

Fossil fuel defendants in climate liability lawsuits keep losing in their bids to keep cases in federal courts.
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The case adds to a growing number of major climate accountability cases against the oil industry, a scenario that Shell predicted in 1998.

The case adds to a growing number of major climate accountability cases against the oil industry, a scenario that Shell predicted in 1998.
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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.