In an article for Juriste International, the magazine of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA), David Greene, our Head of the Class Action & Finance Litigation examines how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the world have sought to enforce the Paris Agreement on climate change through the courts.

…Conference of the Parties (COP) is the decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. For the international legal community, the most momentous COP took place in Paris in 2015, leading to the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change, which COP oversees. The Agreement seeks to establish transparent national plans to reduce emissions and keep the global temperature rise this century to, at best, 1.5 degrees Celsius. At the core of the plans are Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) whereby national goals are set to reduce emissions. NDCs have often led to domestic legislation seeking to bring emission reduction plans to the domestic level.

One does not need reminding of the effects of climate change, with July 2021 being earth’s hottest month on record. The past seven years since the Paris Agreement have seen a wave of litigation by NGOs, communities, and charities seeking to enforce the Agreement obligations at both a national and corporate level. The Paris Agreement and the NDCs have been a core basis for groups seeking to enforce those obligations. Courts across the world have shown a willingness to develop normal tortious principles to meet the growing clamour for nations and corporations to meet climate change challenges.

Litigation often turns on guaranteed constitutional rights. Typically, those rights (taken here from the European Convention on Human Rights but reflected in most national constitutions) are the right to life, the right to liberty and security, and the right to a private and family life. But the invoking of constitutional rights is not one size fits all, and each jurisdiction interprets its own constitution’s language…


David’s article is available in full, in the December 2022 issue of Juriste International (pdf p17-18).

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