Professor Randall S. Abate

Atmospheric Trust Litigation in the United States: Pipe Dream or Pipeline to Justice for Future Generations?

Wednesday 9 March 2016


Climate justice litigation has exploded in US (United States) courts in the past decade. Although courts are not the most effective mechanism to achieve proper regulation of climate change, the common law can be a powerful mechanism to goad proper regulatory responses to climate change impacts. The US climate justice movement began with public nuisance lawsuits that sought injunctive relief and damages for climate change impacts.

The movement has now shifted its jurisprudential focus to another effective common law tool, the public trust doctrine. Atmospheric Trust Litigation (ATL) involves a creative expansion of the public trust doctrine in suits primarily against state governments alleging that the state has a duty to manage its atmospheric resources to protect the interests of future generations.

This presentation, which you can watch below, discusses ATL as a valuable next step in the evolution of climate justice litigation. Drawing on recently decided ATL cases in federal and state courts in the US, the presentation evaluates ATL's strengths and limitations and concludes that ATL is a valuable tool in the climate justice arsenal.

Video presentation

Watch the video of Professor Randall S. Abate presentation via Panopto's website.


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