Climate Judiciary Project

New! Listen to our latest podcast interview, where Sandy Nichols Thiam and Dr. Paul Hanle discuss highlights from the project.


Climate-related lawsuits in the U.S. have grown in number from a few, mostly administrative cases before 2015 to scores of cases today. These include not only regulatory claims, but torts, public trust, and fraud and consumer protection cases, among others. With growing public concern about climate change and stasis on the issue in Congress, groups pressing for climate action are seeking a way forward through the courts.

As the body of climate litigation grows, judges must consider complex scientific and legal questions, many of which are developing rapidly. To address these issues, the Climate Judiciary Project of the Environmental Law Institute is collaborating with leading national judicial education institutions to meet judges’ need for basic familiarity with climate science methods and concepts. We are developing and disseminating a climate science and law curriculum and are conducting seminars and educational programs, in collaboration with leading climate scientists and legal experts. The goal of our project is to provide neutral, objective information to the judiciary about the science of climate change as it is understood by the expert scientific community and relevant to current and future litigation.

ELI has a track record of delivering highly-respected U.S. and international judicial education programs spanning more than three decades. This program holds true to ELI’s course of nonpartisanship and nonadvocacy, drawing deeply on ELI’s commitment to high quality, bias-free content. Our collaborators, among them faculty of leading universities, government and private research institutions, and members of the National Academies of Sciences, are likewise known for their impartiality and are at the top of their fields in science and judicial education.

Our shared vision is to make available to federal, state, and local judges the basic science they need to adjudicate the climate litigation over which they preside.

For more information, contact us at climatejudiciary@eli.org.

Recent News

In September 2022, the Climate Judiciary Project and the National Judicial College co-hosted a judicial education program for the Judicial Leaders in Climate Science. State court judges from 21 states and the Republic of Puerto Rico attended a 3-day program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Programming included focused sessions with distinguished experts on climate science and law topics.  

In November 2021, ELI participated in the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. ELI’s Climate Judiciary Project brought an important message to the summit: a judiciary informed on the basics of climate science is key to effectively addressing the climate crisis. During the summit week, ELI hosted a roundtable workshop on “Using Science and the Law for Ensuring Accountability and Compliance with Climate Regimes,” as part of Climate Law & Governance Day. Sandra Nichols Thiam also presented on Climate Change Legislation, Litigation, and the Rule of Law in an event hosted by the University of Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance.

Climate Science and Law for Judges Curriculum
  • Procedural Techniques Available for Climate Litigation, Robin Kundis Craig (July 2022)
  • How (Climate) Science Works, Paul Hanle & Michael Mastrandrea (available January 2023)
  • What is Causing Climate Change?, Inez Fung (available January 2023)
  • Impacts of Climate Change, Katharine Mach (available January 2023)
  • Climate Justice, Jonathan Levy (available January 2023)
  • Quantifying Climate Risk and Costs, Gary Yohe (available January 2023)
  • Drawing the Causal Chain, Michael Wehner (available January 2023)
  • Climate Solutions, Stephen Pacala (available January 2023)
  • Climate Litigation Overview, Sandra Nichols Thiam & Jarryd Page (available January 2023)
  • Applying Attribution, Doug Kysar & Isabella Soparkar (available January 2023)
  • Government Action and Climate Science, Jessica Wentz (available January 2023)
  • Fundamental Rights and Climate Change, Barry Hill & Jarryd Page (available January 2023)
Additional Resources
 

 

Meet the Team