In Russia, there have been no cases where citizens (on citizen group) think that their state is breaching the law because it has authorised a project that contributes negatively to climate change or fails to adapt to climate change.
The absence of cases can be explained by: (i) a weak domestic GHG emissions reduction target which is achievable without additional measures or a deviation from a business-as-usual approach; (ii) a lack of comprehensive climate laws and policies for mitigation and adaptation; (iii) no legal grounds for adaptation-based litigation; and (iv) individuals and interest groups rarely litigating on environmental issues.
In accordance with the Law on the Protection of the Environment, Russian law only permits NGOs, and not individuals, to bring cases against the state with the aim of preventing decisions or projects that contributes to a negative impact on the environment. Where a specific project has already been enforced, however, individuals (and groups of individuals) can bring a case against the state.
While there have been no cases where a citizen (or citizen group) alleges that their state is breaching the law because it has authorised a project that contributes negatively to climate change or fails to adapt to climate change, future cases could be based on the following grounds.
Firstly, citizens (or citizen groups) could rely on the Code of Administrative Proceedings to challenge a decision that has already been enforced and contributes negatively to climate change or fails to adapt to climate change. Claimants must show the project applied to them or violated their rights, freedoms and legal interests, or established barriers to their realisation.
Secondly, citizen (or citizen groups) could claim that a project that fails to adapt to or mitigate against climate change is unlawful because it inflicts harm to health, property or the environment under the Civil Code. In order to realise the right to compensation for harm to health or property, claimants must show that damage has been caused by a legal violation, damage to health or property, causation between action (or lack of) and damage and guilt. For harm caused to the environment, the burden of proof lies with the claimant, who must provide evidence of the environmental harm and a causal link between the enforced decision and the harm caused.
Under the civil procedures route, full compensation is available for citizens (or citizen groups) who have been found to suffer harm to health or property, or satisfied the requirements for harm to the environment as a result of a project.
*Although in principle these legal avenues represent opportunities for citizens (or citizen groups) to bring a case against the state, litigating on such grounds is not considered to be an effective or productive pathway for challenging a project that negatively contributes to climate change. There are several existing challenges when pursuing legal actions of this sort through the Russian legal system.
For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/geographies/russia
This country report has been produced by Humzah Khan, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Kate McKenzie, C2LI Legal Analyst with the collaboration of Yulia Yamineva, C2LI National Rapporteur. The summary is based on Yulia Yamineva, “Opportunities for Climate Litigation in Russia: The Impossibility of the Possible” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.