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Rising cases of climate litigation worrisome


The UN Environment (UNEP) says Climate litigation cases have spiked in recent years, making the courtroom increasingly relevant to efforts to address climate change around the world.

In its report titled Global Climate Litigation Report: 2020 Status Review, UNEP said the new scenario means governments and corporate actors must implement their climate commitments, as well as pursue more ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.

At least 884 cases were brought in 24 countries; as of 2020, cases had nearly doubled, with at least 1,550 climate change cases filed in 38 countries .

A very recent example is the landmark litigation and judgement involving Shell Nigeria Limited and the Oruma community in Bayelsa State, Nigeria.

“Citizens are increasingly turning to courts to access justice and exercise their right to a healthy environment. Judges and courts have an essential role to play in addressing the climate crisis.”

Arnold Kreilhuber, Acting Director of UNEP’s Law Division

In the coming years, UNEP expects climate litigation to increase in national and international bodies, especially with respect to companies misreporting climate risks, governments failing to adapt to extreme weather events, and cases brought to enforce previous court decisions.

A rise is also expected in cases concerning persons displaced by climate change impacts.