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Taking Action – Practical Tips

How to take action

It may seem impossible that you can do anything about something as enormous and global in scale as CC. But in the last few years many successes have been achieved by individuals and small groups of people concerned about the effects of CC on their communities and globally and prepared to take on powerful government and corporate interests.

Practical tips

  • Look at the “Going to Court” section of this website which deals with a number of things to think about
  • Think about whether you or your group have “standing” – in part this is a specialist legal question (see the section on “standing”) but in factual terms it may just mean does CC affect you
  • What is happening in your locality which is relevant to CC ? Is your locality affected by CC (increased flooding, droughts, sea level rise) or is there something in your locality which may increase CC – a local or national law or policy, or an actual or proposed project or activity – for example a coal fired power station or a dam ?
  • Who will be the targets of legal action – a national or local authority, a corporation, or the promoters or supporters of a carbon intensive project ?
  • Gather resources and supporters – it is easier for example for a municipality (such as “the City of New York”) or an organisation (such as “Urgenda”) to take action than individuals
  • What are you trying to achieve ? Be realistic. Often results which seem small in practical or monetary terms are very important in changing behaviour and setting precedents for others to use and build on
  • Get help and advice – you are not alone ! (see below). There are many people and organisations that can help you – wherever you are in the world
  • You will need legal arguments and evidence.

Short guides on how to take action are produced by ELAW and WCEL

Greenpeace has released in December 2018 a special People’s Guide which is a comprehensive practical guide for communities who want to use Human Rights arguments to hold governments to account. Look at Chapters 4 which contains advice as to how communities can actually bring cases.

Coming Soon: The A4J Resource Bank will be adding to its resources a series of easy to adapt editable templates. These will assist those wanting to bring climate change cases in drafting the documents and evidence needed.



What evidence you need will depend on the type of action. However in most CC cases this will include expert scientific evidence. Much CC science is now well accepted and can be taken from existing authoritative reports. However you may need specific evidence on matters such as

  • How CC affects or will affect a particular country or region or city and the people living or working there
  • How those effects might be avoided and the possible cost
  • What emissions or other adverse effect on CC might be caused by a particular corporation or project
  • Are they consistent with international law of policy (such as the Paris agreement targets) or national law or policy
  • What are the implications of the things that you are suggesting or the alternatives to what you are challenging. So for example if a coal powerplant is being challenged, how else might the local energy needs be met ? If you are challenging GHG emissions, is the remedy that you propose possible and practical ?

Help and Resources

All the organisations below are involved in using the law to help combat CC. All operate internationally. One or more of them will be able to help you.

WCEL  (Canada)

Centre for International  Environmental Law (USA)

Greenpeace International

AIDA (Latin America)

Columbia Law School (USA)

Client Earth (Europe)

CER (Africa)


Earthrights International (Asia)

Union of Concerned Scientists (USA)

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