Climate change accountability and liability
Increasingly courts over the world are confronted with the question whether states and corporations can be legally held accountable and liable for their contribution to climate change. The Dutch Urgenda case and the case against Shell are telling in this respect.
These cases have inspired similar lawsuits worldwide, both in national courts and international (human rights) bodies, using liability law to address the causes and consequences of climate change. But, how does the law distribute responsibility and accountability for contributing to dangerous climate change? What are the underlying normative principles in this respect, and how should new legal issues be assessed according to these principles? Is it up to courts to make such determinations, or rather to parliaments and/or governments? Can courts, staffed by lawyers rather than climate scientists, make (factual) determinations as to the causal links between emissions, climate change and for example dangerous weather events? And can we empirically test the impact of this litigation on actual mitigation and adaptation policies?