Climate Change Litigation: Recent Developments

April 6 2018 | Committees

Written by Marcus Hunter, Kuchler Polk Weiner, LLC

This article highlights a few of the “climate change” lawsuits which have been reported on recently by the national media.

In August 2015, twenty-one children, ranging from ages eight to nineteen, filed an action against the federal government in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.  The youth allege that the federal government “has known for decades” that the emission of greenhouse gases contributed to climate change, and that in spite of this knowledge it has continued to permit, authorize, and subsidize fossil fuel extraction.[1]  The allegations state that the government’s promotion of fossil fuel-centric energy policies violated the plaintiffs’ due process rights to life and liberty. Among the relief the plaintiffs seek is a court order requiring the government to develop and implement a “national plan” which would include limiting the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide.[2]

Additionally, cities like San Francisco, Oakland and New York City have filed lawsuits on behalf of their residents claiming that certain oil companies’ production of fossil fuels have increased greenhouse gas pollution and caused stronger hurricanes and wildfires.  The suits allege that the increase in natural disasters has required these cities to expend resources to invest in public safety projects.[3]  These lawsuits have not been filed in Louisiana.


[1] See Juliana v. United States, No. 15-cv-1517, D.E. 7 (D. Or. 2015).

[2] Id.

[3] The People of the State of California v. BP PLC et al., case number 3:17-cv-06011, and The People of the State of California v. BP PLC et al., case number 3:17-cv-06012, both in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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