Skip to content

Substantial Justice?: Transnational Torts as Climate Litigation


Kim Bouwer


This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Licence Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Transnational litigation for harms caused by major emitters, frequently brought in north-south partnerships, is a noticeable trend in Global South litigation for environmental harm. This trend will undoubtedly be a feature of domestic climate litigation, in that it mobilises litigation capacity in the Global North, directly targets emitters in their home jurisdiction, and stands to compensate claimants most deserving of climate reparations in the Global South. In this context, this paper does three things. First it examines recent caselaw, questioning whether recent developments in transnational tort cases have opened a route to transnational climate litigation. Second, it examines and reframes existing environmental harm cases, arguing that these are characteristic of Global South climate litigation, and should be analysed as such. Third, it examines the benefits and pitfalls of this reframing, highlighting the distinction between the analysis and the strategy of transnational climate cases as climate litigation.

Lecturer, University of Exeter. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Climate Litigation in Africa Workshop, hosted online by the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Exeter, 27 August 2020, the Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference, hosted online by the University of Exeter, on 4 September 2020, and at the University of Durham on 9 June 2021. I am grateful to everyone present for their interest in my work and helpful comments and discussion. Thanks for comments on the written paper go to Tracy-Lynn Field, Robert Kibugi, Joseph Lee, Maria Lee, and two anonymous reviewers. For correspondence: <>


Lx-Number Search

(e.g. A | 000123 | 01)

Export Citation