Policy Brief: Climate Change and Access to Justice

Climate change looms as the defining crisis of our time, casting a dark shadow over our planet. Its far-reaching consequences, from soaring temperatures to relentless natural disasters, pose a formidable challenge to humanity. But there's a crucial aspect often overlooked: the profound impact of climate change on access to justice. This policy brief emphasises the need to recognise and understand the impact of climate change on everyday justice problems and presents recommendations for policymakers and service providers to bridge the widening justice gap.

Billions of individuals grapple with justice problems, yet nearly half cannot find a resolution. Alarming evidence indicates that climate change will multiply these problems and exacerbate their severity. While comprehensive data is still scarce, acknowledging and understanding how climate change shapes access to justice is paramount. 

Anticipating the effects

Climate change is one of the biggest crises of our time, causing rising temperatures and more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Driving forces like livelihood loss, displacement, urbanisation, health risks, resource conflicts, and the transition to a CO2 net zero economy will all trigger a surge in justice problems. Today, individuals and communities already require people-centred justice to navigate their issues. Tomorrow, the demand will escalate.

“This policy brief emphasises the urgency of addressing the intersection of climate change and access to justice and provides recommendations for mitigating and adapting to the challenges posed by climate change in the justice system.”

Policy Implications and Recommendations

The policy brief calls on policymakers, leaders, and service providers to take the impact of climate change on access to justice seriously. It emphasises the need to: 

  • Gather crucial data on the intricate interplay between climate change and justice.
  • Predict and model legal needs across various climate change scenarios.
  • Promote innovative people-centred justice solutions. 
  • Foster inclusion, empowering communities to participate actively in decision-making processes. 
  • Elevate climate change to the forefront of justice strategies, intertwining the two domains for holistic action. 
  • Embed people-centred justice within climate change strategies, ensuring they work hand in hand. 
  • Provide the necessary funding to resolve legal needs arising from or exacerbated by climate change, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable populations. 
  • Invest in Green Justice, embracing sustainable practices in the pursuit of a fair and balanced legal system.