Individuals in Bolivia have not brought cases against private actors for operations that contribute negatively to climate change.
Private actors have an obligation to protect the environment (article 247 of the Bolivian Constitution) by meeting the requirements of environmental regulations (i.e. completing EIAs and ensuring public participation). When private actors breach these environmental regulations, individuals could file a claim before an administrative or judicial body against these actors for non-compliance of their statutory requirements.
In some cases, private actors’ operations are permitted to contribute to air pollution within a set limit written in environmental regulations. However, even if this limit is not breached but still causes environmental harm, individuals have the right to file a constitutional action (Popular Action) based on every persons’ right to a healthy environment or the duty to “protect and defend the environment suitable for the development of living beings.”
The non-compliance with the environmental regulation could give rise to administrative, civil and criminal responsibilities, depending on the seriousness of the breach. It could also result in
administrative sanctions (i.e. fines, stoppage of activities or withdrawal of authorization until the requirements are met), reparation and compensation for environmental damages, and even imprisonment of the legal representatives of the operator. Importantly, article 347.I of the Constitution provides that “[l]iability will be declared for historic environmental damages, and liability for environmental crimes shall not lapse”.
For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/cclow/geographies/21
This country report has been produced by Hayley-Bo Dorrian-Bak, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Pau de Vilchez Moraga, C2LI Legal Analyst with the collaboration of Paola Villavicencio Calzadilla, C2LI National Raporteur for Bolivia. The summary is based on Paola Villavicencio Calzadilla, “Climate Change and the Individual Litigating Climate Change in Bolivian National Courts” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021