SLP News archive


17/04/2024 | Climate-washing litigation: towards greater corporate accountability?

With corporate climate action and climate misinformation coming under greater scrutiny, ‘climate-washing’ is increasingly being targeted through climate litigation. Juliana Vélez Echeverri, Catherine Higham and Joana Setzer explore this growing trend, asking: how effective is it to use the courts in this way and how could their power be better harnessed on the path to net zero?

This commentary is co-published with the LSE Business Review  and draws on data from the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law’s database  of climate litigation. Juliana Vélez Echeverri is a Research Associate in Climate Greenwashing Litigation at the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme.

12/04/2024 | SLP, Smith School and Faculty of Law contribute to landmark climate case

For the first time, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that weak government climate policies violate fundamental human rights. The case was brought by the KlimaSeniorinnen – a group of 2,400 older Swiss women whose age and gender puts them at greater risk of death due to heatwaves.

Research from a team including members of the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme, hosted jointed by the Oxford Smith School and the Faculty of Law, contributed to the landmark ruling and was cited in the final judgement. It showed the extent to which heat-related deaths can be attributed to human induced-climate change, contributing key science to support the KIimaSeniorinnen case.

26/03/2024 | Andean alarm: climate crisis increases fears of glacial lake flood in Peru

'In 1941, thousands of people died in Huaraz when the natural dam on a lake above the city gave way. Now, melting glaciers are raising the chances of it happening again.' A Guardian report cites Dr Rupert Stuart-Smith's paper in Nature Geoscience.

22/02/2024 | Jojo Mehta and Thom Wetzer on Planetary Health and legal ramifications

Dr Thom Wetzer, Director of the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme, and Jojo Mehta, Stop Ecocide co-founder and Executive Director, delivered the third in the Green Templeton Lecture series 2024. The series this year is on the theme of 'Planetary Health', with this lecture on 'Planetary Health and legal ramifications'. The lecture report is available at the link above. More on the lecture series is available online.

22/01/2024 | Fighting the Fossil Fuel Companies' Voodo Economics: a conversation with Ben Franta 

From the Speaking Out of Place podcast: a conversation with Ben Franta about two new articles he has written that add to his growing archive of seminal work on climate change.  Ben describes how the fossil fuel industry paid economists to join scientists in denying the true nature of the fossil fuel industry’s destruction of the environment. Economists argued that even if some science were correct, implementing change would be too costly. This became a powerful tool to stall and kill climate change legislation. Ben also talks about how communities have tried to sue fossil fuel companies for damages incurred by such misinformation and disinformation.


23/06/2023 | Top firms sign climate crisis charter

A group of eight large commercial law firms, calling themselves Legal Charter 1.5, have come together to create and sign a charter outlining a set of common principles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a timescale that will prevent global warming from rising above 1.5°C.

Dr Thom Wetzer, associate professor of law and finance at the University of Oxford, commented: “The legal profession has the potential to do tremendous good and it can be part of the solution to the climate crisis. That is why the launch of this Legal Charter is such a welcome step forward. It will allow law firms to share expertise with those seeking to improve the current system.”

20/06/2023 | Water, ice, society, and ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HI-WISE) assessment report released

Dr Rupert Stuart-Smith has coauthored a chapter in the newly released report from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). This report 'reveals the changes to the glaciers, snow and permafrost of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region driven by global warming are “unprecedented and largely irreversible”' and looks at the impacts on society and nature in the region. Full report and press release are online, and this has already been picked up in the media, including by Reuters and CNN.

19/06/2023 | The Climate Science and Law Forum launches to advance strategic climate litigation

Mishcon de Reya has announced that it has partnered with organisations from three leading academic institutions - the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Imperial College London and the University of Oxford - to launch the Climate Science and Law Forum. Dr Rupert Stuart-Smith commented: "Climate science has a crucial role to play in supporting legal claims for climate accountability. If the full potential of legal action on climate change is to be realised, it is essential that lawyers have access to scientific insight that provides a firm factual basis for claims. We are delighted to contribute to the Forum and look forward to collaborating with our partners to support high-impact climate litigation in the UK and beyond."

06/06/2023 | Thom Wetzer wins the Smith School's inaugural Teaching Excellence Award

Thom Wetzer, Associate Professor of Law and Finance and the Founding Director of the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme, has been announced as the winner of The Smith School's inaugural Teaching Excellence Award. Thom states that he was particularly thrilled to receive the award because it is largely based on feedback from students. Thom's course, taught jointly with Benjamin Franta and Rupert Stuart-Smith from the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme, focuses on the (contested) role of the law in the net zero transition.
Thom noted:
"We are passionate about what we teach and spend significant effort preparing our classes, so it is wonderful to know that students valued the result. Many thanks to the committed, versatile, and outright brilliant students on the MSc in Sustainability, Enterprise and the Environment -- teaching you has been a wonderful experience."

09/03/2023 | Corporate greenwashing: The lawyers are coming

Dr Ben Franta's blog for the European Corporate Governance Institute: "Greenwashing may be one of the greatest emerging legal risks across corporate sectors worldwide. Once a topic of relatively niche concern, the spectre of greenwashing liability continues to grow as more brands seek to portray themselves as climate-friendly and lawyers (and the broader public) get wise to the fact that not all that appears green is what it seems."

16/02/2023 | Are you a climate culprit?

The carbon footprint and calculator were popularized by Big Oil to shift blame for climate change from industry to the individual. Ben Franta on a “micro truth in a macro lie.”

01/02/2023 | An ocean of opportunities? Climate litigation is doing so well it’s now being eyed by investors

Dr Ben Franta is quoted in an article from The Wave on the rise of litigation finance.

17/01/2023 | Thom Wetzer and Sustainable Law Team featured on Al Jazeera Documentary, Earthrise

Associate Professor of Law and Finance, Thom Wetzer, has been featured alongside the Sustainable Law team in a new episode of Al Jazeera’s documentary series, Earthrise.

12/01/2023 | New research reveals the extent of ExxonMobil’s secret knowledge of climate change nearly 50 years ago

Dr Ben Franta quoted on the article on new research published in the journal Science. They found that those projections, produced by ExxonMobil scientists between 1977 and 2003, foresaw with immense accuracy the global heating that was observed in the decades after.


25/11/2022 | Rising to sustainability challenges: building the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme, pdf (p. 22, 23)

The Oxford Sustainable Law Programme (SLP) was conceived to harness the potential of the law as a lever to drive rapid and systemic change that addresses the biggest sustainability challenges of our time.

23/11/2022 | Luca Enriques selected to provide feedback on the review of G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance

Professor of Corporate Law, Luca Enriques, was one of four academics selected by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Corporate Governance Committee to provide feedback on the review of the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance.