Making Democracy Great Again : an Exploration of Democratic Values in Climate Change Litigation

Robb, Eilidh (2018) Making Democracy Great Again : an Exploration of Democratic Values in Climate Change Litigation. Working paper. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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    Abstract

    Until the 20th of January 2017, democracy was assumed to be secure within the United States but for the first time in recent history, America is now being presented as a 'flawed democracy'1 with the actions of President Donald Trump raising several red flags. His predilection towards authoritarian leadership, lack of respect for his executive powers, and insistence on "alternative facts", challenge many facets of democracy – and, of particular relevance to this study, frustrate efforts to mitigate climate change through policy and government. With an administration so clearly intent on shutting down climate change action, civil society is turning to the only avenue it has left – the law – and is taking climate change issues to court in a last-ditch attempt to push for action. By investigating twelve concluded climate change cases initiated after Donald Trump entered office, the ways in which the courts can continue to defend democratic values can be explored. This research therefore seeks to draw new connections between the separation of powers, transparency, and accountability in climate change litigation as ways of safeguarding democracy in a period of crisis. While Donald Trump presents a real and imminent threat, the courts may be well placed as the necessary instrument for protecting democracy when we need it most.