Global Lessons from Climate Change Legislation and Litigation

Aug 1, 2023

There is no country in the world that does not have at least one law or policy dealing with climate change. The most prolific countries have well over 20, and globally there are 1,800 such laws. Some of them are executive orders or policies issued by governments, others are legislative acts passed by parliament. The judiciary has been involved in 1,500 court cases that concern climate change (more than 1,100 of which were in the United States). We use Climate Change Laws of the World, a publicly accessible database, to analyze patterns and trends in cli-mate change legislation and litigation over the past 30 years. The data reveal thatglobal legislative activity peaked around 200914, well before the Paris Agreement. Accounting for effectiveness in implementation and the length of time laws have been in place, the United Kingdom and South Korea are the most comprehensive legislators among G20 countries and Spain within the Organization forEconomic Cooperation and Development. Climate change legislation is less of a partisan issue than is commonly assumed: the number of climate laws passed by governments of the left, center, and right is roughly proportional to their time in office. We also find that legislative activity decreases in times of economic difficulty. Where courts have gotten involved, judges outside the United States have ruled in favor of enhanced climate protection in about half of the cases (US judges are more inclined to rule against climate protection).

Publication details
Theme(s)
The urgency of zero
Type(s)
Research paper
Year(s)
2021
Environmental and Energy Policy and the Economy

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