Current Legal Developments Climate Change and the Constitutional Obligation to Protect Natural Resources: The Pennsylvania Atmospheric Trust Litigation

in Climate Law
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When it comes to climate litigation, environmental plaintiffs in the United States have demonstrated a remarkable ingenuity in terms of utilizing various legal avenues to compensate for the persisting regulatory gaps. In the last few years, the public trust doctrine and constitutional law have been present among these, in an attempt to put the risks associated with climate change on the map of human rights in relation to the environment and natural resources. However, despite a nationwide occurrence of such lawsuits, courts have been cautious in their approach to them. Similar lawsuits have emerged outside the United States, in Europe and Asia, demonstrating some viability. This analysis addresses the recent litigation in Pennsylvania, where petitioners asked the court to order the state government to take action on climate change and to declare such action a constitutional obligation under the state’s Constitution.1

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