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Climate Litigation: private actors increasingly becoming the targets of claims


Climate-related litigation is increasingly being used as a tool to hold companies and governments to account over their contributions to climate change.  According to the Grantham Institute’s 2021 Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation Policy Report (the “Report”), the number of climate-related cases has more than doubled since 2015: between 1986 and 2014, approximately 800 cases were filed, but between 2015 and 2021, approximately 1,000 cases were filed.  As noted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (“IPCC”) Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, this growth in climate-related litigation is having a profound impact on the “outcome and ambition of climate governance“. 

Although the majority of the climate-related cases identified in the Report were brought against regional and national governments, the Report also identified a marked increase in the number of climate-related cases brought against private sector actors.  Of the 193 climate-related cases identified in the Report as being filed in 2021, 38 were filed against private sector actors; a significant increase from the 22 filings in 2020.  But who were the main targets of these climate-related cases, and what is responsible for this upwards trend?

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