The law is the best way to empower people to protect their environment, and the only way to rebalance the power between governments, industry and individuals.

We have helped governments to write environmental laws, and regulators to enforce them. We have saved Europe’s oldest forest from destruction, smoothed the way for environmental lawsuits in China, and helped communities in Africa’s last great rainforest cut illegal logging.

We make sure people can find information about the environment where they live and work, so they can take that information to court when things go wrong. We sue polluting companies, and we help them change their business model to do better in future. Because protecting the planet is best for us all.

2024 so far




Our work in 2022

  • We started legal action against Shell’s Board of Directors, in a claim that seeks to hold them personally liable for not managing climate risk and not preparing for a net zero future.
  • We joined legal action against TotalEnergies over its misleading advertising and greenwashing.
  • We took the UK Government to court over its inadequate net zero strategy. The Government failed to put forward policies that will properly tackle climate change, so we took action.
  • We challenged the European Commission to review what it considers ‘sustainable investment’. Currently the list includes bioenergy, bio-based plastics and chemicals used to make plastics. This is unlawful.
  • In May, we launched an internal review asking the EU council to review their decision to set EU/UK fishing limits far above scientific recommendations. It’s time to end overfishing.
  • Together with Friends of the Earth Europe, Food Water Europe and CEE Bankwatch we have started legal action against the EU Commission for supporting 30 disastrous gas projects in Europe. Gas is a fossil fuel, it shouldn't be given VIP status.
  • We joined Fossielvrij NL in taking legal action against Dutch airline KLM for misleading marketing that promotes the 'sustainability' of flying.
  • In August, we team up with environmental and consumer groups in the United States to bring a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against District of Colombia power utility Washington Gas, over greenwashing in its marketing.

What we achieved in 2021

  • After a 13-year-long fight, we won the right for all people to challenge the EU in court on decisions that break environmental law. Previously, only NGOs could do this – so this reform gives members of the public the opportunity to hold the EU to account over climate change and biodiversity loss.

  • We launched the Greenwashing Files, investigating the advertising claims of some of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies and exposing the reality behind the greenwashing.

  • After our legal intervention, Polish authorities announced that Belchatow – Europe’s biggest coal plant – will start to wind up operations and published a plan to close the plant.

  • In a massive win for the UK and the climate, Drax confirmed it will abandon its plans to build Europe’s largest gas plant. Now we want to see Drax embrace real low-carbon and sustainable energy.

  • The European Commission started new proceedings against the Polish government for their continued failure to protect Bialowieza – Europe’s oldest forest.

Our key wins in 2020

  • In a landmark decision, a Polish District court judge demanded the operators of Europe's biggest coal plant negotiate with our lawyers to accelerate its closure.

  • Republic of Congo passed a new law to help ensure more sustainable management of the country’s vast forests. Our legal experts spent eight years working with local partner organisations to help draft the law.

  • We had our first win in our fight against the expansion of a plastics plant in Antwerp. Following our legal action, project owners INEOS began a comprehensive environmental impact assessment so the plant’s total impact can’t be ignored.

  • Polish energy company Enea announced they will suspend construction of planned coal plant Ostroleka C following our shareholder lawsuit.

  • BP announced they were pulling their Possibilities Everywhere ad campaign after we made a complaint, citing greenwashing.

  • The Australian government promised $25m in climate adaptation spending for the Torres Strait – a key ask of a group of eight islanders who brought a world-first human rights complaint over the country's climate inaction

We use law as a tool to mend the relationship between human societies and the Earth. We work all around the world, bringing together law, science and policy to create practical solutions to key environmental challenges.
James Thornton, President and Founder
James Thornton, ClientEarth founder