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Launch of multidisciplinary project on translating climate science for international law

The University of Amsterdam announces the launch of an international network of climate scientists and international lawyers that collaborate on the project “Translating climate science for international law”.

Project: Translating climate science for international law

The entry of scientific findings and arguments into international law on climate change is necessary and inevitable. A wealth of scientific evidence is available on the causes, impacts, adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. Such scientific findings are needed not only to better grasp the causes and extent of the problem as well as possible solutions, but also for giving concrete substance to legal norms and concepts. Knowledge stemming from (climate) science is vital to understand, interpret and apply fundamental legal notions such as causation, risk, precaution, proof, highest possible ambition and significant or irreversible harm. As such, (climate) science can play a key role in giving concrete content to international obligations and establishing causal links between the (in)action of States contributing to climate change and climate impacts. While there is increasing recognition of the potential gains of further collaboration between international lawyers and climate scientists, this potential is currently underexploited.

The aim of the project is to enhance our understanding of how climate science has been used, and can be used, in the development, interpretation and application of international legal rights, obligations and procedures, including litigation, that are relevant to climate change. It examines how scientific knowledge relating to climate change – including its causes, impacts, future risks and mitigation –can be incorporated into, or used by, international law.

This project undertakes a collaborative multidisciplinary approach to questions arising in the context of international law on climate change, through a network of climate scientists and international law scholars.

Papers in progress

Project members are currently working on the following paper projects (working titles):

  1. When is state (in)action a “cause” of climate change-related harms?
  2. The meaning of ‘significant harm’ in the context of climate change
  3. Types of uncertainty in climate litigation
  4. Operationalizing “highest possible ambition”
  5. Climate responsibility and vulnerability

The project network climate science and international law

The project is carried out by a network of climate scientists and international lawyers. Members include:

Preliminary workshop

The project was initiated at a two-day workshop organized by dr. Natasa Nedeski in June 2023 in Amsterdam, with funding obtained through the KNAW Early Career Partnership. During this workshop, a group composed of seven climate scientists and seven international lawyers discussed key themes and concepts at the intersection of science and international law, such as causation, uncertainty, harm, inter-generational equity, and fair share.

A follow-up workshop will take place in May 2024 in Copenhagen.

Further resources


For further questions please contact Natasa Nedeski at