Climate Change Litigation: A Powerful Strategy for Enhancing Climate Change Communication

  • Paola Villavicencio CalzadillaEmail author
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


In a context in which national and international policy-making have been inadequate and insufficient for dealing with climate change, more recently courts have become a critical forum in which the climate crisis and the consequences of inaction are under debate. Climate change litigation (CCL) is emerging as a valuable strategy to hold governments and private entities accountable for their lack of action and to advance policy and regulation in both, mitigation and adaptation. In addition, CCL also appears to be a powerful tool for communicating the urgency of climate change. Win or lose, climate-related cases can help to promote a better understanding of climate change, raise awareness and enhance dialogue and public engagement in the debate over the actions needed to confront the challenges linked to it. Against the backdrop of the climate change communication discourse, this paper explores how CCL assists in communicating climate change issues. By looking at the experience of some of the most significant climate-related cases that have set important precedents in recent years, this paper highlights that CCL contributes to the public understanding of the causes, risks and consequences of climate change, as well as the adaptation needs, by bringing its realities closer to people—within and outside courtrooms—and by presenting complex related issues in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. Thus, as climate-related cases are reported in a variety of sources gaining national and international attention, they help to increase the public’s understanding of climate issues, raise public and politic awareness and inspire action.


Climate change communication Climate change litigation Public awareness and debate Urgenda case Leghari case and Lliuya case 


Funding Acknowledgement

The generous financial support of the South Africa National Research Foundation (NRF) in the form of a ‘travel grant for individual researcher’ is acknowledged with appreciation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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