Climate change litigations are ongoing across the globe: from domestic courts to regional human rights courts, from The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to International Court of Justice. Never had I expected such litigations would be discussed in the COP28, a place for negotiating international climate change agreements.

On the morning of Dec. 10, I attended a high-level dialogue between Chief Justices, Supreme Court Justices, and experts explored approaches and solutions to climate change-related disputes arising before domestic or regional courts across the globe. The judges came from Supreme Courts of Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Brazil, as well as International Court of Justice (ICJ). Indeed, this is the first time that senior judges have had an official event at a climate COP.

On the afternoon of Dec. 10, in the the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)Pavilion, several high-profile experts, including Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and Christina Voigt, Chair of IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, also held a panel on “Islands Driving Forward Climate Change Law.” This panel mainly discussed how small island states brought climate change disputes into international courts in the form of advisory opinions. Given the significant of the ITLOS and ICJ opinions, such advisory opinions would have a significant, long-term impact regarding states’ obligations.

Given the seriousness of climate crisis as well as the legislative delay, it is easy to understand the judicial activism in domestic states across the globe. Importantly, the COP28 provide an international platform for judges from different countries to share their unique practices, to talk with each other, to listen each other, and to learn from each other. These judges are practicing transnational judicial dialogue, referring to exchanges among courts and judges that belong to different national and international legal regimes.

Such possibility of transnational judicial dialogue at the COP28 should be attributed to the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, which has prepared the submissions and acting as legal counsels for related climate change litigations. However, IUCN may have some conflicting roles in organizing the transnational judicial dialogue and in acting as legal counsels for related climate change litigations.

Indeed, the fascination of international climate change law lays in this aspect: the transnational judicial dialogue can test the limits of many aspects of law: constitutional law, torts, administrative law, international human rights law, law of sea, and etc. The COP28 provides a perfect opportunity to observe this “dialogue” in real, in person.