Most fossil fuel companies are global corporations, with worldwide operations. Even though the United States is often perceived as one of the jurisdictions most prone to lawsuits and "regulation by litigation," it is important to recall that climate change litigation is being pursued by numerous plaintiffs in a variety of different jurisdictions across the world.

Litigation in the European Union poses a particular risk to fossil fuel companies, as not only are many based in Europe, but adverse judgments from the European courts are more likely to serve as significant precedent.

In civil court in The Netherlands, hearings began Tuesday in a case against energy company Shell that could have implications for future cases and the role of companies in meeting climate targets. 

The case was brought by a group of seven environmental organizations and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens who are co-plaintiffs. The plaintiffs are demanding that Shell be forced to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels.