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Corporate Accountability and Liability Mechanisms for Climate Change: Event Report

The question as to how companies should be addressing their impacts on climate change has never been as urgent. The recent decision in the Netherlands in Milieudefensie v Royal Dutch Shell  is another example of legal and societal expectations that companies should take proactive steps towards reducing and even eliminating their contributions to the various factors that fuel climate change. These concerns have not only surfaced in litigation around the world, but also in other methods of holding companies accountable, such as through investor pressure, public procurement, financial decisions, and reputation-focused campaigns by civil society. Many of these accountability models have legal implications for companies although they do not necessarily provide for legal liability or access to remedy for people and the planet.

On the 27th September, The British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) hosted a panel discussion entitled 'Corporate Accountability and Liability Mechanisms for Climate Change: Developments and Comparative Models', which was followed by a closed, invitation-only workshop for practitioners. The present report provides a summary of the main contributions to the discussion from the panel discussion, drawing on themes dealt with in the moderated roundtable discussion from the practitioner's workshop.

The events were convened by Ivano Alogna, Arthur Watts Research Fellow in Environmental and Climate Change Law; Lise Smit, Senior Research Fellow in Business and Human Rights and Director, Human Rights Due Diligence Forum; and Duncan Fairgrieve, Senior Research Fellow in Comparative Law and Director, Product Liability Forum. Panellists in order of presentations: Catherine Higham (Climate Change Laws of the World Coordinator, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science), Lydia Omuko-Jung (Research Fellow, Institute of Public Law and Political Science at University of Graz), Lisa Benjamin (Assistant Professor, Lewis & Clark Law School), Francesco Quarta (Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Business Law, University of Bologna), Arianne Griffith  (Senior Campaigner, Global Witness), Ina Ebert (Leading Expert Liability and Insurance Law, Munich Re), and Mads Andenæs QC (Professor, University of Oslo and Institute of Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London).

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