ClientEarth uses the law to tackle some of the most pressing environmental challenges. But using the law doesn’t just mean taking legal action. We sat down with Dominic Phinn, our Business Engagement Co-ordinator for Clean Air, to find out more about our work with UK businesses to tackle air pollution.
How does ClientEarth work with UK businesses to tackle air pollution?
People often assume big business is only part of the problem when it comes to air pollution. This may be the case with many companies, in particular car makers who lobby to weaken emissions targets and continue to produce millions of petrol and diesel vehicles and lie about how much they are actually polluting, but there are many businesses out there where this is far from the truth.
Tesla, UPS, DHL, National Grid, Royal Mail and Enterprise Rent-a-car are members of the Clean Air Business Forum that I convened earlier this year – these are big, influential companies who want to see more from the Government to stimulate the transition to a zero emission transport system. Tesla aside, they are not ‘they would say that’ companies and it’s not immediately obvious why they would want government action to tackle air pollution. We brought these companies together to use their influence over government, and to gain their insight on the policy and regulation that is needed for businesses to shift to zero emission vehicles.
Why do companies want to work with ClientEarth on air pollution?
Our expertise on what is legally required of the Government, the health impacts of air pollution and how government is responding through policy and other measures is incredibly valuable to businesses who are trying to work out the right time to scale up investment in zero emission transport options.
Businesses increasingly want to show leadership on environmental issues, working with us is a way for them to do this. We have to be very careful of ‘greenwashing’ and we will only associate with businesses that are genuinely contributing to the solution. We know better than anyone what is needed to tackle air pollution and have clear asks of the Government. If businesses are supportive, then great. If not, we don’t partner with them.
What makes ClientEarth advocacy unique?
Using the law to drive action on air pollution is what makes us unique. The effectiveness of our approach makes us an appealing partner for a range of organisations – and businesses are no different. Having the backing of big companies, publicly and through our advocacy work, adds to the impact of our work.
The environmental issues we tackle are clear to policymakers. When it comes to the lack of action – ignorance is not the issue, it is the influence of vested interests. The evidence for the impact of air pollution has been well-known for a long time, using the law as a tool to drive change, with the backing of parents, other NGOs and businesses makes it extremely hard to ignore.
If you didn’t work on air pollution advocacy, what would be your alternative career?
Both my parents were teachers and I think there is one in me somewhere! I loved learning the language when I lived in China in my 20s and would like to have a go at teaching Chinese.