Climate Change Litigation, Obsession and Expertise: Reflecting on the Scholarly Response to Massachusetts v. EPA


  • Elizabeth Fisher

  • I am grateful to the frank and constructive feedback of the anonymous referees of this article, the editors, and the attendees at the British Academy Workshop on Climate Change Litigation, Policy and Mobilisation, April 26–27, 2012. Any errors or omissions remain my own.

Address correspondence to Elizabeth Fisher, Corpus Christi College , Oxford OX1 4JF, UK. Telephone: (44) 1865 276 700; E-mail:


Climate change litigation is an obsessive preoccupation for many legal scholars. Three different “narratives” can be identified for why scholars find such litigation important to study: litigation is a response to institutional failure, legal reasoning holds authority, and litigation is a forum for the co-production of facts and social orders. The nature and consequences of these narratives are considered in the context of the first U.S. Supreme Court “climate change” case—Massachusetts v. EPA (2007). This analysis has implications for both how scholars understand their expertise in this area, and how they should foster it.