Ukraine has experienced climate change litigation against the state for its overall climate policy.

While Ukraine lacks a comprehensive climate change law, climate cases against the government relating to its overall climate policy have been based on the following grounds:

  • Administrative and environmental law, international climate laws: In two lawsuits, the international charitable organization “Environment-people-law” has directly addressed the government’s commitments under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. In Environment-People-Law (EPL) vs. Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and others (2011), the organization filed a complaint against the Government, the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources and the State Environmental Investment Agency. The main legal grounds for the complaint were the national law 2707-XII on the protection of atmospheric air environmental and information laws, as well as Ukraine’s climate commitments under the international climate laws and the National Action Plan.
  • National climate plans, governmental resolutions: The same organization filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources in 2013. In Environment-People-Law vs. Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, the plaintiffs sought that the Ministry’s inactivity, in its role as coordinator of the implementation of Ukraine’s obligations under international climate law, was declared illegal. The main legal grounds were the legal commitments under the UNFCCC, the measures envisaged in the National Action Plan, and the governmental resolutions aiming to the implementation of Ukraine’s international commitments. The Court of first instance argued that the international acts had only “declarative” effect, and thus the state’s compliance had to be evaluated based on the implementation of the measures embedded in the National Action Plan.  Besides, the final decision was grounded on the governmental resolutions assigning the Ministry specific responsibilities for the implementation of the climate commitments.

Regarding standing, Ukraine’s law allows both individuals and organizations to bring climate lawsuits against public authorities. Particularly, Art. 21 of the Law on Environmental Protection (1995) assigns environmental NGOs the right to appeal to court for the protection of the environment.  Secondly, Art. 6 of the Code of Administrative Justice (2005) gives each person the right to bring a case whenever her rights, freedom or interests may be affected by the public authorities’ activity or inactivity.

Regarding remedies, the courts in Ukraine have refused to order the public authorities to change their climate policy, while recognizing the state’s duty to implement the commitments taken, insofar as enshrined in national plans. In EPL v. Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and others, the claimants requested the court to demand the adoption of several climate-related measures. Among those, two remedies were particularly relevant to the litigation scenario 1, namely, the request a) to compel the government to publish information on the implementation of the climate commitments, as envisaged under the National Action Plan, and b) to order the Ministry of the Ecology to set GHG limits. Regarding the former one, the Supreme Administrative Court found that the information laws granted the government a broad discretion in deciding how to communicate its environmental policies and on that basis, excluded that the government was obliged to issue a specific report on its climate commitments.  Regarding the latter one, the District Court argued that the national environmental laws did not oblige the Ministry to elaborate specific reduction targets.

Conversely, in EPL v. Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources the requested remedies were largely met by the courts. The District Court of Kiev provided that the Minister’s inactivity had been illegal, insofar it had not provided methodological guidance in setting GHG emissions reduction targets, and it had not implemented the necessary measures to fulfil the National Action Plan.

For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see:

This country report has been produced by Carlotta Garofalo, C2LI Research Assistant, Humzah Khan, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Kate McKenzie, C2LI Legal Analyst. This summary is based on Mariia Muravska, “Climate Change Litigation in Ukraine” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.