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Casebook Studies

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Sustaining the Wild Coast v. Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy

In order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, exploration for new fossil fuel reserves must stop. In spite of this, fossil fuel companies like Shell continue to make plans to develop new oil and gas reserves. This includes Shell’s plans to conduct seismic surveys for oil and gas reserves off the coast of South Africa. In response, a coalition of NGOs and communities asked the High Court of South Africa to issue a temporary order restraining Shell from proceeding with these surveys until the Court can assess the validity of the project. The High Court sided with the plaintiffs, blocking the seismic surveys until the case is ultimately resolved.

Source: Chris De Beer-Procter // Centre for Environmental Rights

African Climate Alliance v. Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy

In addition to being one of the dirtiest and unhealthiest forms of energy, coal is now another thing: unnecessary. As the cost of renewable energy continues to tumble, government officials can no longer justify the continued use – nevertheless the new construction – of coal-fired power. Officials in South Africa, however, are trying to do just that: they’ve authorized the procurement of new coal-fired electrical power, directly contravening not only the need to use the most economically efficient sources of energy (which coal is not) but also their obligations to protect rights. A coalition of South African NGOs are thus challenging this decision in court, as part of their #CancelCoal campaign.

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Notre Affaire à Tous v. France

Around the world, lawyers are taking to the courts to hold governments accountable for their climate commitments and to challenge inadequate measures for the climate emergency. In France, a group of NGOs filed one such case – Notre Affaire à Tous v. France – to push the government to take adequate climate action in line with its legal obligations. In an important decision, the Administrative Court of Paris agreed, ordering the government to take urgent action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with its international commitments and domestic obligations.


PSB v. Brazil (on Climate Fund)

Public climate finance – in the form of government spending on climate mitigation and adaptation – plays an essential role facilitating the changes, policies, and projects urgently needed to limit global warming. When that climate finance stops, it spells trouble for efforts to combat the climate emergency. In Brazil, the Bolsonaro government froze the operations of the Climate Fund, which provided essential funding for climate efforts in Brazil. To take on this troubling state of affairs, a group of Brazilian political parties, working with NGOs, filed suit against the Brazilian government, demanding that the government unlock this much-needed funding. In a win for climate action and climate litigation more broadly, the Federal Supreme Court agreed and ordered the government to operationalize this crucial Fund.