Rights-based climate change litigation in the polish courts: key challenges

Proceedings of The 2nd World Conference on Climate Change and Global Warming

Year: 2022

DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.33422/2nd.ccgconf.2022.05.001


Rights-based climate change litigation in the polish courts: key challenges

Małgorzata Bryk



This article provides an overview of the Polish climate change law/policy. Additionally, it identifies the main challenges related to rights-based climate change litigation in the Polish courts. Although the claims have much in common with other national level climate cases, such as Urgenda Foundation v State of the Netherlands, the cases are novel legally because the claimants are asking the court to order that Polish civil law includes a legally enforceable right to a healthy environment encompassing a right to live in safe and stable climatic conditions. The claimants argue that their personal and human rights are being violated by the Polish Government’s lack of action, and that it must reduce emissions in line with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. The analysis indicates that due to the lack of direct inclusion of the right to a healthy environment in Polish legislation, it is also difficult to enforce the authorities to actively protect this right. Polish law lacks regulations that would directly enable citizens to demand from the authorities to introduce general environmental protection measures and consequently impose sanctions on the authorities for inaction in this respect. In the light of the scrutiny, it is unlikely that the claims made by the plaintiffs in the context of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be met. Nevertheless, it is possible that the court will find a violation of human rights by state action.

keywords: climate change law, strategic litigation, human rights, Poland.