Urgenda and Beyond: The past, present and future of climate change public interest litigation

  • Olivier van Geel Maastricht University
Keywords: sustainability, law, public interest litigation, Urgenda, climate change


Scientific evidence demonstrates that anthropogenic climate change is an urgent global problem with tremendous destructive capacity. Decades of multilateral negotiations have yielded limited success to date, but other responses are available. One such alternative is climate change litigation. Particularly interesting are recent public interest lawsuits, first in the Netherlands, and then in Pakistan, which have sought to hold the State responsible for climate change. This paper seeks to demystify the past, present, and future of climate change public interest litigation by placing it in a historical perspective, looking at contemporary developments, and assessing the potential of this technique for encouraging social change on a global scale.

Author Biography

Olivier van Geel, Maastricht University
Faculty of Law