Why money matters when taking climate change to court

(Context, 10 Oct 2023) Climate change litigation is surging as environmental activists open a new front in the battle to reach net zero.

When Serge de Gheldere decided - along with a dozen other Belgian citizens - to take the government to court in 2014 alleging climate inaction, he didn't imagine he would still be fighting the case in 2023 and with more than 70,000 co-plaintiffs.

"I thought we had a good chance of nailing this (quickly)," he told Context. "In the past, it has worked to use the law to bring about societal advances."

The long-running "Klimaatzaak" or Climate Affair case, in which de Gheldere wants an appeals court to order Belgium to make deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, is part of a rising tide of climate change litigation around the world.

The cumulative number of cases globally has more than doubled since 2015 to nearly 2,200, according to a database collected by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at New York's Columbia University.

Many such cases are brought by non-profits or individuals frustrated with a lack of progress from governments in tackling the climate crisis, as the world suffers more severe heatwaves, floods, storms, droughts and wildfires.

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Context, 10 Oct 2023: Why money matters when taking climate change to court