International and European Law

Climate Litigation Observatory

Responsible Researchers:
Heloísa Oliveira
Project Status:


In parallel with the political and emerging relevance that has been attributed to the climate issue, climate litigation has increased significantly and given rise to disruptive legal issues in matters of fundamental rights and international and administrative law. In just the last two years, rulings from higher courts in several European states (most notably the Supreme Courts of Ireland and the Netherlands and the German Constitutional Court) have addressed the problematic issues associated with the basis and limits of jurisdictional control of laws and policies. national climate-related issues, applying the theory of fundamental rights, human rights and general theory of administrative law to a context of complex, extraterritorial, remote, time-stretched damages with significant epistemic uncertainty. The aim is to study these issues from an integrated public law perspective.


(i) Listing and monitoring of jurisdictional (including arbitration) proceedings relating to climate change in courts.
(ii) Systematisation of the grounds presented by the parties and the decisions regarding these grounds.
(iii) Creation of a public database.
(iv) Study of the corresponding problems in light of the general theory of law, fundamental rights and administrative law, with the aim of contributing to the theoretical strengthening of applied and applicable legal solutions.


Environmental law is, in general, a laboratory for testing the application of general theoretical constructions in the area of public law. In addition to the recent proliferation of specific legal regimes (climate laws), the issue of climate change, due to its emergence, complexity and transversality, calls for the incorporation of traditional legal solutions in an innovative way, with particular emphasis on the area of fundamental rights and of administrative law. It is, therefore, the application of fundamental research to the topic of climate change, using climate litigation as a basis.

The courts have resorted to these solutions, sometimes deciding within a framework of judicial self-restraint, but progressively in a more disruptive way. Research work on these matters is therefore necessary for the theoretical support of complex decisions that result from balancing operations at the limit of the typical activity of the jurisdictional power, in areas of great extra-legal technical complexity and full of political opposition. The systematisation of typical problems raised in the context of climate litigation and their in-depth study will allow for the consolidated development of law in this area, although to a certain extent replicable for others, such as public health.


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