Global Climate Litigation: Network Update #1

Maria Antonia Tigre
March 11, 2022

In December 2021, the Sabin Center announced the launch of the Peer Review Network of Global Climate Litigation. The national rapporteurs have since engaged in an analysis of the cases in our Global Climate Litigation Database to assess whether cases or updates were missing. We will publish monthly updates that highlight changes in our database throughout this process. These updates complement our climate litigation monthly newsletter, which covers current updates. We are grateful to our rapporteurs for this invaluable contribution. If you would like to join our network, you can check the countries not yet covered here and apply here. If you are aware of any cases that are missing from the database, you can contact Maria Antonia Tigre at


Canada: Case challenging the approval of a natural gas liquefaction facility and export terminal in Canada. SkeenaWild Conservation Trust v. Government of Canada (Canada, Federal Court, 2016)

Chile: Just transition case related to Chile’s Energy Sector Decarbonization Plan. The Supreme Court reached a decision on August 2021. Company Workers Union of Maritima & Commercial Somarco Limited and Others v Ministry of Energy (Chile, Supreme Court, 2021)

Colombia: Five climate-related cases in Colombia: Decision C-298/16 of June 8, 2016 (Colombia, Constitutional Court, 2015) (related to the protection of the paramo ecosystem), Decision SU-698/17 of November 28, 2017 (Colombia, Constitutional Court, 2015) (related to mining activities and water supply), Decision T-218/17 of April 19, 2017 (Colombia, Constitutional Court, 2015) (pertaining to the effects of climate change on water supply), Atrato River Decision T-622/16 of November 10, 2016 (Colombia, Constitutional Court, 2015) (related to the protection of the Atrato River), Combeima River case of September 14, 2020 (Colombia, Council of State, 2011) (related to mining activities and the effects on rivers).

France: Two French cases against climate protesters. The judgements were handed down in March 2020 and November 2021. Climate activists v. Paris Airports (France, Tribunal Correctionnel, 2020); Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport v Climate Activists (France, Criminal Court of Bordeaux). Case against the CEO of Total for conflict of interest. Patrick Pouyanné (CEO of TotalEnergies) v. Greenpeace France (France, National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, 2020)

Italy: Italian climate migration case. The court reached a decision in February 2021. I.L. v. Italian Ministry of the Interior and Attorney General at the Court of Appeal of Ancona (Italy, Supreme Court of Cassation, 2019). Greenwashing case in Italy. Italian Competition Authority Ruling Eni’s Diesel+ Advertising Campaign (Italy, Regional administrative court of Lazio, 2019)

Japan: Japanese private litigation claim against Sendai Power Station. The court delivered a judgment in October 2020. Sendai Citizens v. Sendai Power Station (Japan, Sendai District Court, 2017)

Mexico: Two Mexican case challenging the amendments to the Electric Industry Law. Nuestros Derechos al Futuro y Medio Ambiente Sano et. al., v. Mexico (Unconstitutionality of the reform to the Electric Industry Law) (Mexico, First Circuit Collegiate Tribunal, 2021); Julia Habana et. al., v. Mexico (Unconstitutionality of the reform to the Electricity Industry Law) (Mexico, First Circuit Collegiate Tribunal, 2021)

New Zealand: New Zealand case questioning a local government’s commitment to climate change. Hauraki Coromandel Climate Action Incorporated v. Thames-Coromandel District Council (New Zealand, High Court of New Zealand, 2020). New Zealand case against climate protesters for occupying an offshore oil platform. The decision was handed in November 2020. Police v Hanafin (New Zealand, District Court, 2020)

Poland: Five similar Polish cases related to the government’s failure to protect citizens from the worsening effects of climate change (the database previously had the 5 cases under one, Górska et al. v. Poland, which has been deleted for accuracy). ClientEarth v Poland (on behalf of M.G.) (Poland, District Court, 2021); ClientEarth v Poland (on behalf of M.S.) (Poland, District Court, 2021); ClientEarth v Poland (on behalf of P.N.) (Poland, District Court, 2021); ClientEarth v Poland (on behalf of P.R.) (Poland, District Court, 2021); ClientEarth v Poland (on behalf of M.O.) (Poland, District Court, 2021)

United Kingdom: Greenwashing case in the UK. Advertising Standards Authority’s Ruling on Shell UK Ltd.’s Shell Go+ Campaign (UK, ASA, 2020)

World Trade Organization: Two WTO cases related to regulations from the European Union on palm oil and oil palm crop-based biofuels. DS-600: European Union and Certain Member States – Certain Measures Concerning Palm Oil and Oil Palm Crop-Based Biofuels (WTO, WTO Dispute Settlement Body, 2021); DS-593: European Union — Certain measures concerning palm oil and oil palm crop-based biofuels (WTO, WTO Dispute Settlement Body, 2019)


Japan: Osaka District Court rejects claim seeking more ambitious action on climate change

In 2018, residents of the Japanese city of Kobe filed an administrative action against the government seeking more ambitious action on climate change. The plaintiffs asked the Osaka District Court to compel the government to cancel the notice of finalization of an environmental assessment of two new coal-fired units, which would emit about 7 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. The plaintiffs also seek an order finding that the government has unlawfully failed to establish regulatory standards consistent with the Paris Agreement. On March 15, 2021, the Osaka District Court rejected the plaintiffs’ request. On March 26, 2021, the citizens filed an appeal arguing that the emission of GHG can be a violation of human rights of individuals as climate change damages a person’s life, body, and property. Moreover, they claim that the denial of standing is a violation of their right of access to the courts. Further, they demand the court to revisit the appropriateness of the environmental impact assessment and the Notice of Finalization. Citizens’ Committee on the Kobe Coal-Fired Power Plant v. Japan (Japan, Osaka District Court, 2018)

New Zealand: Court of Appeal finds that tort law is not an appropriate vehicle to address climate change

In October 2021, the Court of Appeal reached a decision in the two appeals against the High Court of New Zealand’s decision to dismiss two out of three claims brought against major greenhouse gas emitters and allow one claim to proceed to trial. The Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Smith’s appeal and upheld the cross-appeal. The court held that tort law was not the appropriate vehicle for dealing with climate change, noting that “every person in New Zealand — indeed, in the world — is (to varying degrees) both responsible for causing the relevant harm, and the victim of that harm.” As such the court argued that its intervention in the issue and a determination that the conduct of the respondent companies was unlawful would introduce an “ad hoc” and “arbitrary regime,” which would lack democratic legitimacy. The Court of Appeal did, however, note that the courts have some role in holding the government to account for climate action. In late 2021, Mr Smith applied for leave to bring an appeal to the New Zealand Supreme Court. Smith v. Fonterra Co-Operative Group Limited (New Zealand, High Court of New Zealand, 2020)