More lawyers needed for climate legal battles, campaigners say


he civil litigation movement against major polluters is gathering pace, activists say, and more lawyers are needed to join the fight.

Campaigners are increasingly turning to the law to help fill a vacuum left by a lack of regulation that would force companies and countries to comply with the Paris Agreement.

Greenpeace says precedent-setting rulings by courts in multiple jurisdictions finding that it is up to nation’s to protect future generations means the fight is getting easier.

Emerging science quantifying the role of climate change in extreme weather could also spell legal problems for both governments and major corporations, it said.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said more lawyers should get involved, telling them: “You will be part of a growing community that is basically just taking (polluters) to court and winning.”

Greenpeace announced on Tuesday it is suing Volkswagen for failing to transform both production and its supply to keep its emissions in line with the goals of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

The announcement came ahead of “transport day” at the Cop26 climate summit, where many countries are unveiling their plans to shift towards electric vehicles.

According to Greenpeace’s analysis, to comply with the Paris Agreement, Volkswagen must reduce its emissions by 65% by 2030 compared to 2018 levels and phase out combustion engine production by 2030.

The case relies upon a ruling by German ’s Federal Constitutional Court in April this year that future generations have a fundamental right to be protected from climate change.

Civil litigation can fill the gap left by lack of regulation from policy makers, environmental charities say (Andrew Milligan/PA) / PA Wire

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said the principle of “intergenerational equity” was at the core of the ruling in Germany and would drive forward litigation elsewhere.

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