The campaign will tell Greenhouse Gas Emitters that they will be legally required to compensate countries suffering from climate change. The legal risk creates a new public debate, where emitters will be identified as the cause of climate damages suffered by other countries.

Climate Change Compensation Campaign

Grant given: 2014

Grant amount: 480.000 NOK

Responsible for campaign: West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation, Vancouver, Canada. Project Manager: Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer.


Parner organisations: Environmental Justice Program (, West Coast Environmental Law Association (

Climate litigation

Climate litigation - court-ordered damages against large-scale GHG emitters– has

been described by lawyers as a "holy grail” in the fight to mitigate climate change.

 However, efforts have downplayed communications, political, and international

aspects of litigation risk and focused on existing U.S. law (where climate damages

claims have been filed). Consequently, litigation risks have not played a

significant role in business, investment or political decisions.  We propose

broadening this focus through communications campaigns based on 3 legal pathways

that change current climate litigation risk narratives dramatically and ultimately

mitigate climate change by creating economic risks for GHG emitters:


1.        There is a legal basis for lawsuits to be brought in countries where damages have

occurred, even against emitters from other countries.  This gives control over GHGs

to countries that benefit least from the emissions, and increases uncertainty for

emitters about which laws might impact them. 

2.        There are existing laws related to the enforcement of debt between jurisdictions,

which could allow climate-related judgments from impacted countries to be enforced

in the U.S., E.U. or Canada. 

3.        As the damages from climate change become clearer there will be calls for

legislation to clarify and strengthen the rules for climate liability.

Why is the project important?

Both national and international efforts to control GHG emissions have framed the

issue as a political or moral choice, meaning that governments and industry in

countries with large GHG emissions profiles see little economic downside in choosing

not to act to control those emissions. 

A communications strategy, informed by credible legal analysis, on the transnational

and political aspects of climate liability risk asserts a legal imperative (and

economic consequences for failing to act).  It (a) greatly enhances real and

perceived economic risks faced by emitters and investors; (b) creates possibilities

for campaigns by non-lawyers aimed at creating and enhancing risks; and (c) empowers

climate-impacted countries and their public. 


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