Court cases that seek regulatory action based on climate change considerations have a better chance of success if they are based on renewable energy or energy efficiency arguments, according to a new study released this month by George Washington University. The study, “Strategies in and outcomes of climate change litigation,” analyzed 873 domestic climate change lawsuits that were filed between 1990 and 2016.
The study found that the most common climate issues brought to court involved coal-fired power plants and other air quality concerns. Litigants asking the courts for increased regulations to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants more frequently lost than won. The lead author points out, though, that “litigants who want to address climate change often win renewable energy and energy efficiency cases. The courts favored the pro-regulatory positions in these kinds of cases by a ratio of 2.6 to 1.” The study advises that “efforts to affect climate policy should consider these trends and outcomes.”