Climate Litigation and the Separation of Powers - An Uneasy Relationship?

Event date
29 November 2023
Event time
12:30 - 13:45
Oxford week
MT 8
Bonavero Institute of Human Rights - Gilly Leventis Meeting Room

Lorenz Wielenga, University of Cologne

Notes & Changes

This event will be hybrid, taking place in-person in the Gilly Leventis Meeting Room, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and online via Zoom. Please register here for online attendance.


In the struggle for climate protection by legal means, both the potential and limits of the judiciary crystallise. Far-reaching climate judgements simultaneously serve as a projection surface for desperate hopes to save mankind and as the epitome of the judicial transgression of power. The central claim of my presentation is that climate litigation has the potential to cause a power shift towards the judiciary. Climate litigation exhibits certain traits that are separation of powers-sensitive. In my presentation, I will focus on the following three characteristics of such claims: the legal basis of mitigation cases, the relationship between the separation of powers and time, and the role of strategic climate litigation. Building on the institutional design of the three branches, the temporal dimension of democratic rule, and the intertemporal and extraterritorial effects of emissions, I will reflect on the question whether such a power shift may be justified.



Lorenz Wielenga studied law at the University of Münster, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He majored in human rights protection, international law and comparative law. He also completed additional studies in Anglo-American common law. He is an alumnus of the German National Academic Foundation.

Lorenz worked as a student assistant for Prof. Dr. Petra Pohlmann at the Institute for International Business Law at the University of Münster. While working for the NGO "Advocates Abroad", he advised refugees in Athens on the asylum process. In 2021, he worked as campaign manager for the Bundestag candidacy of Federal Minister Svenja Schulze. Since January 2022, he has been a research assistant and doctoral student at the Academy for European Human Rights Protection at the University of Cologne. Lorenz is a Working Group of Young Scholars in Public International Law (AjV) member. In the spring of 2023, he was researching judicial review at the University of Oxford.

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Human Rights Law