Climate litigation: The impact of the Paris Agreement in national courts


  • Maljean-Dubois Sandrine


  • Climate change
  • Litigation
  • Paris Agreement
  • Interpretation
  • International law

document type



The slowness and lack of ambition of climate policies have led, in recent years, to the development of a new type of litigation: climate litigation. Various States in the North and South have already been ruled against by national courts because of the inadequacy of their action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and litigation is multiplying throughout the world. Here, the international climate regime is likely to make a contribution the magnitude of which was somewhat unexpected. Indeed, the Paris Agreement is a relatively flexible treaty, leaving a very wide discretion to States as to its implementation. However, the way it was designed, and even though its provisions have no or little direct effect, the Agreement increases the pressure on States, including, and perhaps most importantly, at the domestic level. In this article, we show that the Paris Agreement, thanks to the involvement of civil society, has provided fuel for climate litigation in a decisive manner and offered national courts the opportunity to position themselves as key players of climate governance.

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