The unsexy future of climate change litigation

Bouwer, Kim (2018) The unsexy future of climate change litigation. Journal of Environmental Law. ISSN 0952-8873 (

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This article starts the task of expanding the concept of climate change litigation. It argues that a preoccupation with high-profile cases, can divert attention from other important issues litigated within the broader climate change context. The article highlights four key and interrelated considerations that would inform a future conception of climate change litigation. First, climate litigation occurs across scales, and smaller cases at lower levels of governance are as important as more high-profile cases, for myriad reasons. Second, climate change litigation can engage all elements of a good climate response, not just emissions abatement. Third, the extent of private law’s potential contribution, tends to be overlooked. Fourth, ignoring ‘invisible’ climate change cases – or invisible issues within those cases - can result in perilous consequences for climate change policy. Illuminating the implications of all climate cases across scales is fundamental for coherent policy. In addition, this broader conception can support strategic choices.