Whilst Colombia has not experienced litigation challenging private actors for alleged operations that lead to more climate change, claims have been brought against private actors for their acts or omissions that demonstrate a breach of obligations in the following cases:

  • Rediba case: using the tutela mechanism (Article 86 of the Constitution), the claimants challenged different public entities, and a company which provided public services (Rediba S.A) for a violation of fundamental rights such as life in dignified conditions, health, water, and a healthy environment, caused by an unsanitary landfill. The court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and highlighted the mistakes by the environmental authority: for failing to consider the negative impact of Rediba S.A’s actions; and the failure of the operator of the landfill, in addition to the deficiencies of their license, to comply with the conditions established in it.
  • Dow Química de Colombia case: recognised the company Dow Química de Colombia S.A. responsible for the spill of a chemical compound stored in the Mamonal area, at Cartagena. This resulted in the environmental pollution of water and air, the disappearance of flora and faunae, and inevitable rise in greenhouse gases. The court then employed the polluters-pay principle.

Remedial action includes a court order to carry out a review of granted environmental licenses, and determine whether it is necessary to modify or resolve, totally or partially, the administrative act (Rediba case); employ polluters-pay principle and collect damages (Dow Química de Colombia case).

Furthermore, the following grounds could also base a claim:

  • non-compliance with national or international climate change obligations,
  • violation of environmental rights, fundamental rights, or human rights, such as right to life, health, and a healthy environment (Art. 79 of the Constitution).

For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/geographies/colombia

This country report has been produced by Elisa Granzotto, Research Assistant, Iona McEntee, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Juan Auz, C2LI Legal Analyst. The summary is based on María del Pilar García Pachón, Adriana Viloria, María Daniela de la Rosa Calderón, “Climate Change Litigation in Colombia” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.