What is climate change litigation (CCL)? Is there climate change litigation in China? What would be the most promising pathway for CCL in China? How courts in China, an authoritarian country with a civil law tradition, react to government climate policies and how this judicial response might affect relevant legal rules and eventually contribute to climate regulation? This seminar aims to address these questions through the empirical analysis of 177 Chinese court cases. These cases reveal that the CCL in China consists mostly contract-based civil actions steered by the government’s low-carbon policies. Moreover, although the prospects of CCL against public authorities in China remain very bleak, there is scope for the emergence of tort-based CCL which is backed by government policies. In this respect, recent tort-based public interest litigation on air pollution in China may serve as a substitute or, more promisingly, a gateway to the emergence of a tort-based branch of Chinese CCL.
Dr. Yue Zhao is an associate research fellow at the Faculty of Law, Sichuan University. She obtained the bachelor degree (law and French) from Sichuan University, the master degree from the Faculty of Law, Peking University, and her PhD from the Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal. Her teaching and research areas include environmental law, international environmental law, climate change and public international law. She has published articles on a wide array of environmental law.