Climate change and sustainability developments present great opportunities but also manifest as a complex myriad of global legal, financial and reputational risks for companies, governments, directors and officers and other professionals operating in all sectors globally.
Climate change and sustainability disputes risk is now part of the corporate reality.
Our global, multidisciplinary disputes team offers strategic legal and regulatory advice to help you navigate the continually evolving litigation landscape and the expanding range of related policies, laws and regulations across the globe. Our team has the deep industry knowledge across all sectors to fully understand your specific risks, opportunities and needs.
The international legal framework
This article provides an introduction to the current international legal framework addressing climate change and tracks key stages in the framework’s development over the past 60 years.
International arbitration perspectives
International arbitration is well-placed to play a leading role in resolving climate change and sustainability disputes arising in the context of contractual relationships, investment treaties or state-to-state obligations.
Supply chains perspective
In the fight against climate change and other sustainability concerns, challenges faced by companies in navigating their supply chain woes cannot be ignored.
Climate change and sustainability disputes: Greenwashing
As the demand for eco-friendly products and services grows, so too does the risk of companies overstating their sustainability credentials in order to attract and retain customers and investors. This phenomena has been coined ‘greenwashing’ or the ‘green sheen’ and regulators are starting to take action.”
Climate change and sustainability disputes: Business and human rights perspectives
Human rights based arguments are increasingly being used by claimants in their efforts to hold governments and businesses legally accountable for the effects of climate change. This article provides an overview of emerging trends in rights-based climate litigation, and the risks and ramifications which these trends pose for companies.
Sustainability Asia: Climate change & sustainability disputes
Cara Dowling, Director of Global Disputes, talks to Nick about global and APAC trends in climate change and sustainability disputes that are now affecting all industries, and how we are helping companies understand and mitigate such risks.
Sustainable financing and overcoming the risks of ‘greenwashing’
The appetite for sustainable financing has gained enormous momentum, driven by international initiatives to tackle climate change and promote sustainable development and the significant flows of international capital towards ESG investments.
Climate change litigation update
As at July 2021, the total number of climate change cases filed to date has reached over 1,800 up from about 1,650 as at November 2020.
Dutch court orders Shell to reduce CO2 emissions
On May 26 2021, the district court of The Hague rendered a ground-breaking judgment in collective action proceedings initiated by several non-governmental organizations (including Friends of the Earth (Milieudefensie)) (the NGOs) against Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell). The NGOs claimed, in short, that Shell had to reduce its overall CO2 emissions by at least 45% from 2019 levels, by the end of 2030 (the Target Reduction). The court ruled in favour of the NGOs and ordered Shell to reach the Target Reduction (the Shell Case). This is stated to be the first time that a court ordered a company to reduce its CO2 emissions in line with the climate goals included in the Paris Agreement.
Landmark climate change decision
An extremely significant decision in the context of climate change litigation was handed down by Bromberg J in the Federal Court (Court) on 27 May 2021 in Sharma by her litigation representative Sister Marie Brigid Arthur v Minister for the Environment (Sharma).
UN Report on Climate Litigation Released
In January, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a summary of the status and trends in climate change litigation, in cooperation with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law titled, ‘Global Climate Litigation Report: 2020 Status Review’ (the UNEP Report).
Court of Appeal dismisses climate challenge to development of large-scale gas plant in North Yorkshire
The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by ClientEarth in respect of the Secretary of State’s decision to grant a development consent order (DCO) to Drax Power Limited (Drax) for the construction and operation of two gas-fired generating units at the Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire.
Climate change litigation update
Since our last update, progress on addressing climate change has slowed as the world grapples with responding to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. As recently noted by António Guterres, the UN Secretary General “the world is way off track” in taking action consistent with the targets in the Paris Agreement.
Heathrow ruling endangers projects globally
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales’ unanimous ruling on 27 February 2020 that the National Policy Statement (NPS) providing for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport was invalid could have wide ramifications for all carbon-intensive industries.
Climate change commitments lead to invalidity of Heathrow Airport extension policy
R (Friends of the Earth) v Secretary of State for Transport and Others  EWCA Civ 214 The UK’s “Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports ...
Australia: Climate change litigation update
Globally, 2019 saw a strong rise in climate related litigation. As at January 2020, the total number of climate change cases filed to date has reached approximately 1,444 , up from 1,302 since our update in March last year.
Climate change and sustainability disputes
Our commitment to sustainability
We aim to minimize our impact on the environment – to protect the planet, ensure that resources are available for future generations and create a better quality of life for all living beings. We integrate sustainability best practice into all our decision-making and business activities. We recognize our responsibility to address environmental issues that jeopardize the earth’s ecosystems and the future of our communities and as a firm we work on reducing our environmental footprint and are active on many pro bono projects in the areas of sustainability.
Norton Rose Fulbright supports the Sustainable Development Goals. We have adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals as our overarching guiding principles. With the goals being the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, we focus on those where we can have the greatest impact.
Our commitment to our people, our communities and sustainable practice
Diversity and inclusion
Our vision is to be an employer of choice worldwide, attracting and retaining the best people in order to provide our clients with the most considered and innovative advice.
We believe that we have a responsibility, as corporate citizens, to use our skills and knowledge where we can make a difference for the wider communities in which we operate, to help shape the future in a way that provides economic, ecological and social benefits for all.