Below you can find brief descriptions of the projects which our students have completed so far.
2022/23 Mapping out legal routes to challenge Dutch “carbon bomb”:
In 2022, the Dutch government approved the construction of a new gas extraction platform in the North Sea by a multinational company. New fossil fuel extraction projects are incompatible with the goal of preventing dangerous climate change. The students mapped out different legal strategies to challenge this “carbon bomb” to support a strategic climate litigation of an NGO.
2021/22 Challenging deceptive recycling claims on plastic packaging:
A large international consumer products company promotes its plastics packaging as both recyclable and made from recycled materials. Together with an international environmental NGO, the climate law clinic researched the claims, and found them to be misleading for consumers: Packaging of consumer products cannot be recycled into similar products. Their production requires the extraction of additional fossil fuels, and most of it ends up in landfills or is incinerated. The clinic submitted a complaint to the Dutch advertising authority; the procedure is still ongoing.
2021/22 Assessing the readiness of the constituted bodies under the Paris Agreement:
Almost three decades have passed since the entry into force of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. After numerous iterations of negotiations under the Conference of the Parties of the climate treaties, the legal and institutional framework has developed into a complex set of bodies, organs and initiatives, each one aimed at carrying specific functions under the regime. Under the request of an NGO involved in climate negotiations, a student team of the Clinic produced an extensive study on the fitness and readiness of these constituted bodies to implement the Paris Agreement and its Rulebook. One of the students followed up with the study by supporting the NGO at the inter-sessional UN negotiations in Bonn.
2021/22 Legal pathways to sue a Dutch bank for its continuing support to fossil fuel activities:
The 2021 Milieudefensie et al. vs Royal Dutch Shell decision of the The Hague District Court, which required this Carbon Major to substantially reduce its direct and indirect emissions, raised the hopes of the climate activists community to pursue direct legal actions against corporations that are highly involved in the fossil fuel supply chain. Against this background, an NGO has asked the Clinic for an exploratory study on legal pathways to hold a Dutch bank responsible for its continued involvement in financing and supporting fossil fuel activities. Students presented the report at a gathering of an NGO group and two of them have been hired as research assistants for a similar study by another university.
2020/21 Contesting a misleading fossil fuel advertising claim:
Shell, a major fossil fuel company, claimed in a large-scale marketing campaign that the CO2 emissions caused by its gasoline could be “neutralized.” Consumers were asked to pay 1 cent extra per litre for forest conservation projects, which would supposedly “offset” the harmful effects of fossil fuels. Together with two major environmental NGOs, the students of the clinic submitted a complaint to the Dutch advertising authority (Reclame Code Commissie, RCC), arguing that the claim misled consumers: “Offsetting” could not really undo the climate harm caused by fossil fuels. The RCC decided that Shell’s promotion of “offsetting” is indeed misleading. The ruling was featured widely in national and international media. See the related news item here for more information.
2020/21 Case study analysis of a bilateral development bank:
Two LLM students have been involved in the preparation of a report, commissioned to a consortium of universities (VU, Antwerp and Glasgow) by a group of Belgian NGOs (Coalition Contre la Faim, and 11.11.11.). The report offers a critical evaluation of the Belgian bilateral development bank with regards to its governance, regulatory instruments, and environmental and social standards. The two students helped to assess in detail the climate and energy portfolio of the bank; they researched and wrote summary notes on two case studies, and also briefed the research team on their findings. The two case studies contributed to the findings of the final report.