Strategic litigation on climate change in Europe


    Strategic litigation and shareholder/investor activism to advance outcomes on climate change policy are growing globally. Over the last decade, many court cases have been brought in countries such as the United States and Australia to try to stop greenhouse gas emissions from coal; to improve air quality; and to reduce the carbon footprint of corporations. There have also been efforts to spur corporate action in these jurisdictions through shareholder activism, improved company disclosure practices and a growing divestment movement. However, in contrast, strategic climate litigation and activism in Europe has been narrower in focus and less prevalent.
    This project, now in Phase 2, evaluates the impacts of a targeted program of climate litigation and associated shareholder/investor activism, which has been funded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and is being implemented by the public interest environmental law NGO ClientEarth, based in the United Kingdom, with offices across Europe and in Beijing, China. The ClientEarth program aims to accelerate the transition to low-carbon by reducing emissions from coal, improving air quality, reducing emissions from the corporate sector, holding companies and governments accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions and improving environmental governance in China. Using social science evaluation methodologies, the research team is generating an evidence base for evaluating the impact of this litigation and associated shareholder/investor activism.


Project Outcomes

Report: Review of literature on impacts of climate

Professor Jacqueline Peel, Dr Alice Palmer and Ms Rebekkah Markey-Towler completed a report for the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) providing a Review of the Literature on the Impact of Climate Litigation. Published on 27 May 2022.

Read the Report

Chapter in Book: Litigation as a Climate Regulatory Tool

Peel, J., and Osofsky, H.M., 2019. Litigation as a Climate Regulatory Tool. In: C. Voigt, ed., International Judicial Practice on the Environment: Questions of Legitimacy, Studies on International Courts and Tribunals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.311–336.

Link Here

Blog Post: The 'Rights' Pathways for Action on Climate Change?

Rights Now Blog Post by Jacqueline Peel and Hari M.Osofsky. Published on 12 July 2019.

Blog Post

Blog Post: Visit to ClientEarth Beijing and presentations to Supreme People’s Procuratorate and Supreme People’s Court

Evaluation team for the ClientEarth Phase 2 investment, visited Beijing in April 2019.

Blog Post

Presentation: Evaluating Strategic Litigation as a Tool for Climate Change Mitigation

Presented by Dean Hari Osofsky at the American Evaluation Association, Cleveland Ohio, 1 November 2018.

Presentation Slides

Presentation: Evaluating Strategic Litigation as a Tool for Climate Change Mitigation

Presented by Prof Jacqueline Peel and Dr Anita Foerster at the Global Evidence and Implementation Summit, Melbourne, 22-24 October 2018.

Presentation Slides

Learn more about the broader program of strategic climate litigation