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Climate Litigation Soars

Companies are facing increased climate litigation, according to new research, with at least 230 new cases filed in 2023 and a more consolidated focus on strategic efforts in areas anticipated to have high impact. Led by the Grantham Research Institute (GRI) on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the research highlighted ‘climate-washing’ cases, which it said have not only grown in number but become more successful. A total 47 such cases were filed in 2023, bringing the total to more than 140, and more than 70% of completed cases were decided in favour of the claimants. LSE GRI’s sixth annual report also underlined “significant successes” in ‘government framework’ cases last year, which challenge the ambition or implementation of a government’s overall climate policy response. The dataset was drawn primarily from the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law’s climate litigation databases, which recorded 2,666 climate litigation cases and around 70% of them filed since 2015. This is up from 2,341 climate change litigation cases filed at the time of LSE GRI’s fifth annual report last year. The US saw the most new cases filed in 2023 (129), followed by the UK (24), Brazil (10), and Germany (7). The US also remains the country with the highest number of documented climate cases, with 1,745 cases in total. Cases were filed in Panama and Portugal for the first time in 2023, as climate litigation continues to spread to new countries. The report predicted future trends in climate litigation could include post-disaster cases, ecocide and criminal law, and environmental and climate litigation synergies.

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