Click here for the full human rights and climate change case chart, which tracks rights-based climate cases globally.

Casebook Studies

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Institute of Amazonian Studies (IEA) v. Brazil

In the face of devastating deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, an NGO seeks the recognition of a fundamental right to a stable climate. In IEA v. Brazil, the plaintiff NGO seeks not only an order requiring the federal government to comply with national climate law, but also the recognition of a new fundamental right to a stable climate for present and future generations. If successful, it will be a significant and exciting development in rights-based climate litigation.

1599px Lahore High Court Building

Leghari v. Pakistan

Climate litigation often focuses on the Global North. But one of the earliest, most prominent rights-based climate cases was brought in the Global South, in Pakistan, where the Lahore High Court found that the government breached its human rights obligations under the Pakistani Constitution by failing to implement a climate framework law and take sufficiently urgent action on climate change.

Like many Global South countries, Pakistan is not a major contributor to climate change but is particularly vulnerable to its impacts, already suffering the consequences of extreme weather events and food and water shortages. The Court made history by accepting the argument that the government’s failures to adequately implement its climate change policies violated Mr. Leghari’s fundamental rights and taking active steps to compel the government to implement its climate change policies.

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Waratah Coal Pty v. Youth Verdict

In a landmark decision brought by a First Nations-led group of young people, the Land Court of Queensland has recommended that a major proposed coal mine should not go ahead because of its contribution to climate change, its environmental impacts, and the unjustifiable limitations on human rights that it would pose.

Torres Strait Islands

Daniel Billy v. Australia

In a landmark case, Indigenous islanders claimed, in front of the UN Human Rights Committee, that the Australian government was responsible for rights violations stemming from climate impacts suffered by the Torres Strait Islands communities. The Committee, in a major victory for rights-based climate litigation, agreed: the Australian government, by failing to take steps to protect the Island communities from the current and predicted impacts of climate change, violated its obligations under international human rights law.