Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors (DBCCA) have just published Growth of U.S. Climate Change Litigation: Trends and Consequences.  My thanks to climate scientist Chip Knappenberger for spotlighting the DBCCA report in his column yesterday on MasterResource.Org.

DBCCA offer a bird’s eye view of the U.S. climate litigation landscape, provide data on the numbers and types of climate-related lawsuits, discuss their prospects for success and potential consequences, and emphasize that, absent congressional intervention, courts “will make the final decisions” about climate policy.

DBCCA summarize their findings as follows:

  • The number of climate change filings doubled between 2006 and 2007. They then reached a plateau for three years, but already in 2010 are on a path to triple over 2009 levels.
  • The largest increase in litigation has been in the area of challenges to federal action, specifically industry challenges to proposed EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
  • From 2001 to date, 24% of total climate change-related cases were filed by environmental groups aiming to prevent or restrict the permitting of coal-fired power plants.
  • Approximately 37 states have joined, or have stated their intention to join, either side of the EPA litigation challenge.

 Especially useful are two charts on p. 5. The first chart breaks down by number and type climate cases filed through Oct. 8, 2010.


 Challenges to federal action (91 cases, 27%) make up the largest category of cases, followed by anti-coal litigation (74 cases, 22%).

The second chart shows the trend in climate-related filings since 1989:


 The striking fact here is the upsurge in lawsuits filed by industry. During 2004-2008, industry filed between 1 and 4 climate-related lawsuits per year. In 2009, industry filed 9 such lawsuits, and in 2010, a whopping 82 lawsuits, about 76% of the total number.

DBCCA expect more industry litigation in the future: “EPA is now proceeding to issue technology standards on a sector-by-sector basis, and will continue unless Congress acts or the Court of Appeals issues a stay or annuls the tailoring rule. Every further move by EPA is likely to be challenged in court by industry.”