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Increase in Climate Change-Related Lawsuits as Individuals Battle Global Warming

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The number of climate change-related cases has increased drastically as people turn to fight global warming. Image by

The number of climate change-related court cases has more than doubled since 2017 as people turn to litigation to try to fight global warming, the UN said Thursday 27 July 2023.

Courts are increasingly becoming a venue to force governments and businesses to take action as the human-caused warming of Earth becomes ever more destructive and apparent.

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The number of climate-related court cases worldwide rose from 884 in 2017 to 2,180 by the end of 2022, said the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

“While most cases have been brought in the United States, climate litigation is taking root all over the world, with about 17 per cent of cases now being reported in developing countries,” said the report from the UN and Columbia.

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The findings came during a period of extreme heat that has seen dangerous heatwaves on three continents, which were trailed by fires, health warnings and broken temperature records.

“Climate policies are far behind what is needed to keep global temperatures below the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, with extreme weather events and searing heat already baking our planet,” said UNEP’s Executive Director Inger Andersen.

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The report cited some high-profile climate-related cases, including a Dutch court ordering oil and gas company Shell to comply with the Paris Agreement. In another instance, a court in Paris held that France’s failure to meet its carbon budget goals had caused climate-related damage to the environment.


Dozens of cases have been brought by and for children or young people in places such as India and Pakistan, while in Switzerland, a case argues that climate change is having an additional impact on older women.

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“There is a distressingly growing gap between the level of greenhouse gas reductions the world needs to achieve in order to meet its temperature targets and the actions that governments are actually taking to lower emissions,” said Michael Gerrard from the Sabin Center. “This inevitably will lead more people to resort to the courts,” he added.

© Agence France-Presse

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