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Proving a causal link in climate change litigation 

Climate change activists are increasingly and urgently looking at challenging corporations or states in courts. They face serious challenges in doins so. One of these is proving causality, i.e., that the defendant is responsible for the harm suffered by the applicant(s). This is very difficult because the effects of pollution occur not only over a prolonged period of time but also in a transboundary context where multiple actors contribute to worsening the effects of climate change. Some of the most recent literature focuses on assessing the scientific and legal bases for establishing causation (see, for example, Rupert-Stuart Smith’s work). These novel insights will form the starting point of this dissertation project, which can then take a number of avenues, for example to explore how the applicants’ submissions to a recent (unsuccessful) climate claim regarding causality could have been differently argued in order to improve its chances of success in court, or to expand on existing knowledge of causality through a caselaw analysis of some of the most recent relevant cases decided by national or international courts. DISSECT research team member Nele Schultz will assist Prof Dembour in the supervision of this project.


This is the selection process of prof. Marie-Bénédicte Dembour:

Places will be allocated on a first-come first-serve basis.

Students interested in a particular topic are welcomed to contact Prof Dembour by email (mariebene.dembour[@]

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