This research is a deep survey and analysis of the extent of climate change litigation and the Judiciary’s role in South-East Asia (ASEAN) in furthering the objective of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (PA) to limit the increase in world temperature to 2°C, from the pre-industrial era before 2100. Amid the vast literature on global climate change litigation, there are very few studies or commentaries on climate change litigation in ASEAN or on individual member states. The region is a quasi unexplored site since climate change litigation is yet to attract a sustained body of research. Most climate change studies on ASEAN are from scientific, political, legal and policy perspectives. This research endeavors to fill the gap via a thorough analysis of climate change litigation. The study reveals that climate litigation is now past the stage at which it would be considered nascent. Atypical investigation, landmark decision, innovative remedy, out of court-settlement have been flourishing in the past years with Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand leading the way. Climate change litigation is about to take new magnitudes in ASEAN which are addressed through three main research questions:
What are the impacts of the “ASEAN Way” on climate change litigation?
What is the extent of climate change litigation in ASEAN?
Does the ASEAN judiciary have the same inclination as some jurisdictions especially in Europe to fill the institutional vacuum left by governments and parliaments (e.g. Urgenda Foundation v Kingdom of the Netherlands)? Or in light of American jurisprudence on climate change, do ASEAN courts have the possibility to decline to hear politically sensitive matters by manipulating the nebulous concept of legal standing? The answer to this question will determine whether climate change litigation has a bright future in ASEAN.
Taking a critical step back, the role of the ASEAN Judiciary in shaping environmental law and climate change policy will also be examined.
The covered period of litigation history starts with the first known climate change relevant court decision in ASEAN, Walhi case of 1988 and ends on December, 9 2019 with corresponds to the announcement, at the COP 25 on Climate Change, of the decision of the Human Rights Commission of the Philippines on the long awaited inquiry against 47 world’s biggest fossil fuel firms.
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