A bottom-up approach to climate governance: the new wave of climate change litigation

Autore: Giulio Corsi

Over the recent years, the growing perception that States’ policies and planning decisions were not ambitious enough to prevent harmful interferences to the climate system sparked the emergence of a new category of cases of climate change litigation, characterised by the presence of numerous legal innovations. For the first time, these cases are presenting a systematic, bottom-up effort whereby individual citizens or group of citizens are suing States and national bodies, holding them accountable for failing to adequately contrast climate change. This type of effort has significant prospects of becoming a major regulatory force in climate policy, and could give rise to a new form of ‘vertical accountability’ between the State and its citizens. This reflection will provide a broad overview of six characterising elements that define the new wave of climate change litigation, namely the use of Public Interest Litigation (PIL), of modern climate science, rights-based claims, the ‘public negligence’ argument, the public trust doctrine, and finally, international law.