LEGAL ACTION FOR THE CLIMATE GOAL: TOWARDS EQUITY, SURVIVAL AND THE RULE OF LAW
“PRESIDENT TRUMP MAY HAVE HIS ALTERNATIVE FACTS,
BUT ALTERNATIVE FACTS DO NOT WORK IN A COURTROOM”
'The cost of loss and damage of the 48 least developed countries is currently conservatively estimated to be
USD $50 billion annually, while the 13 biggest fossil fuel companies made more than $100 billion in profits in 2014.'
Keely Boom, Julie-Anne Richards
Public International Law
'State and Industry Petitioners assert that EPA improperly “delegated” its judgment to the IPCC, USGCRP, and NRC by relying on these assessments of climate-change science ... This argument is little more than a semantic trick. EPA did not delegate, explicitly or otherwise, any decision-making to any of those entities. EPA simply did here what it and other decision-makers often must do to make a science-based judgment: it sought out and reviewed existing scientific evidence to determine whether a particular finding was warranted. It makes no difference that much of the scientific evidence in large part consisted of “syntheses” of individual studies and research. Even individual studies and research papers often synthesize past work in an area and then build upon it. This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.
Moreover, it appears from the record that EPA used the assessment reports not as substitutes for its own judgment but as evidence upon which it relied to make that judgment.
Congress did not restrict EPA to remedial regulation when it enacted CAA § 202(a). That section mandates that EPA promulgate new emission standards if it determines that the air pollution at issue “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare .” ... This language requires a precautionary, forward-looking scientific judgment about the risks of a particular air pollutant, consistent with the CAA's “precautionary and preventive orientation.” ... Requiring that EPA find “certain” endangerment of public health or welfare before regulating greenhouse gases would effectively prevent EPA from doing the job Congress gave it ... —utilizing emission standards to prevent reasonably anticipated endangerment from maturing into concrete harm.'
Coalition for Responsible Regulation, Inc. v. EPA
Challenges to investment in fossil fuel projects
'EPA’s steadfast refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions presents a risk of harm to Massachusetts that is both “actual” and “imminent,” ...
The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized. The Government’s own objective assessment of the relevant science and a strong consensus among qualified experts indicate that global warming threatens, inter alia, a precipitate rise in sea levels, severe and irreversible changes to natural ecosystems, a significant reduction in winter snowpack with direct and important economic consequences, and increases in the spread of disease and the ferocity of weather events. That these changes are widely shared does not minimize Massachusetts’ interest in the outcome of this litigation ...
While regulating motor-vehicle emissions may not by itself reverse global warming, it does not follow that the Court lacks jurisdiction to decide whether EPA has a duty to take steps to slow or reduce it ... Because of the enormous potential consequences, the fact that a remedy’s effectiveness might be delayed during the (relatively short) time it takes for a new motor-vehicle fleet to replace an older one is essentially irrelevant. Nor is it dispositive that developing countries are poised to substantially increase greenhouse gas emissions: A reduction in domestic emissions would slow the pace of global emissions increases, no matter what happens elsewhere ...
Under the Act’s clear terms, EPA can avoid promulgating regulations only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do. It has refused to do so, offering instead a laundry list of reasons not to regulate, including the existence of voluntary Executive Branch programs providing a response to global warming and im- pairment of the President’s ability to negotiate with developing na- tions to reduce emissions. These policy judgments have nothing to do with whether greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change and do not amount to a reasoned justification for declining to form a scientific judgment. Nor can EPA avoid its statutory obligation by noting the uncertainty surrounding various features of climate change and concluding that it would therefore be better not to regu- late at this time. If the scientific uncertainty is so profound that it precludes EPA from making a reasoned judgment, it must say so. The statutory question is whether sufficient information exists for it to make an endangerment finding.'
Massachusetts v EPA
Domestic cases against governments / regulators
Zoe and Stella Foster and others v Washington Department of Ecology (Our Childrens' Trust)
Kelsey Cascade Rose Juliana et al v United States of America et al. Federal District Court in Oregon (Our Children's Trust)
The Urgenda Foundation v. Kingdom of the Netherlands, District Court of the Hague  HAZA c/09/00456689,June 2015: court rules the Dutch government is in breach of its duty of care by failing to set adequate GHG emission reduction targets.
PUSH and others v Government of Sweden
October 2016,Swiss grannies launch legal action
February 2017: Ruling of Austria’s Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) on the planned third runway for Vienna International Airport (Schwechat) (informal English translation)
RIDHIMA PANDEY v UNION OF INDIA
Cases on regulation to reduce GHG emissions
ZERO ZONE, INC., et al.,v.UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, et al., US Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, August 2016: Court upholds pricing of social costs of GHGs as basis for regulation on refrigeration.
Bonnington Castings Ltd v Wardlaw  AC 613,  UKHL 1:the UK's House of Lords held that it was sufficient to show that a defendant's breach of duty had made a material contribution to the claimant's injury even where other causes had made a more substantial contribution. 'Material', in this context, means a cause exceeding the de minimis threshold.
re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) Prods. Liab. Litig., 379 F. Supp. 2d 348, 377 (S.D.N.Y. 2005): the 'commingled product' theory of causation
Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories, 607 P.2d 924 (Cal. 1980): development of 'market share liability' doctrine.
Barker v Corus (UK) plc  UKHL 20 advances the concept of 'proportionate liability'
Access to Justice cases
Dominic Liswaniso Lungowe & others v Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc (2016): case confirming the potential liability of a parent company for the actions of its subsidiaries, and jurisdiction of the High Court of England and Wales over complaints brought by villagers in Zambia.
Malek Mia, Tahomina Begun,
Shamin, Tamin and Tazin
Cases against corporations
April 2016:Massachusetts Attorney General, Civil Investigation Demand to Exxon
Human Rights Cases
Investigation by the Philippines Human Rights Commission into the responsibility of the 'carbon majors' for human rights violations arising from climate change (commences 2015):