Judicial Handbook on Climate Litigation



The fight against climate change will require the involvement of all three ‘pillars of power’: the legislative, in designing adequate and effective laws; the executive, in designing and implementing adequate and effective laws and policies; and the judiciary, in reviewing laws and policies, solving disputes, providing authoritative guidance on the interpretation of laws and clarifying rights and responsibilities. In the face of the apparent reluctance of the first two to take leadership roles in some countries, courts and judges can play decisive roles in holding governments and actors accountable for effectively addressing climate change.


The project aims to deliver a freely available and well-researched handbook for judges to assist them in navigating the various complex issues that frequently arise in climate change-related litigation. The handbook will serve to increase awareness and sensitivity among judges for climate change issues, and to increase their legal climate change ‘literacy’ as well as capability and expertise. Implicitly, the handbook could also serve to inform interested claimants on suitable procedural and substantive means to bring a climate-change related case to a court or tribunal.


The project comprises two stages.

Stage one is a mapping exercise aimed at establishing an empirical basis for the project. This stage is ‘contributor-led’: all project members complete a template to report on climate change case law in a particular jurisdiction. The template addresses key issues that commonly arise in climate change litigation, such as: the political question doctrine; scientific uncertainty; human rights; extraterritoriality; causation; and attribution. The issues addressed in the template are purposefully broad-ranging, encouraging members to identify any and all potentially scalable approaches that arise from the case(s) in question.

Stage two is aimed at preparing the handbook. This involves analysing the information received in stage one towards obtaining a clear picture of how courts are currently responding to climate change cases. On the basis of this analysis and other relevant information, emerging best practice on key issues arising in climate change litigation will be identified.

Expected outputs and timeframes

The expected output of the project is an open access book titled: Judicial Handbook on Climate Change Litigation, released in late 2022.

For more information, please contact the project coordinators Dr. Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh (m.j.wewerinke@law.leidenuniv.nl) and Ms. Sarah Mead (sarah.leslie.mead@gmail.com), or email: ccsgproject@gmail.com