ClientEarth has been ranked as the 31st most innovative law group in Europe at the Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Awards 2018, moving up four places from the 2017 rankings. The recognition highlights ClientEarth’s innovative work to use the law to protect people and the planet.
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “This is a remarkable achievement and we are delighted to climb the rankings once again. This only goes to show the hugely positive impact of public interest environmental law in the EU.”
The Awards also recognised ClientEarth’s clean air work, in particular, ClientEarth’s efforts to collaborate with other non-governmental organisations across Europe. The work was rated Highly Commended by judges.
In the past year, ClientEarth provided environmental legal expertise to 10 non-governmental organisations across Europe. This gave them the tools they needed to bring clean air cases in 80 cities across nine European jurisdictions. Cases in Germany paved the way for diesel vehicle bans in Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Berlin and Aachen to protect the health of people living and working in those cities.
Clean air lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “After successfully taking the UK government to court three times over illegal levels of air pollution, it is essential that we work with others across Europe to fight for better air quality across the EU. We believe that everyone has a right to breathe clean air.”
ClientEarth was also commended for its legal work to save Poland’s Bialowieza Forest, Europe’s largest primeval woodland. In 2016, the Polish Environment Minister intensified logging in Bialowieza, and there was no means under Polish law to stop it. The logging would have caused untold damage to the UNESCO World Heritage site, which is home to hundreds of plants and animal species, including the European bison and the Eurasian lynx.
ClientEarth complained to the European Commission, and the case was referred to the Court of Justice. In an unprecedented move, the Court announced that Polish authorities had to pay €100,000 per day in fines, a move which halted heavy machinery operating in the forest. Finally, Europe’s top court ruled in April 2018 that the increase in logging violated EU law – a decision that was final and unable to be appealed.