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.


  • We’ve 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’re suing the UK Government over its inadequate net zero strategy. The Government has failed to put forward policies that will properly tackle climate change, so we’re taking action.
  • We’re challenging 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, so we’re challenging it.
  • 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've joined Fossielvrij NL in taking legal action against Dutch airline KLM for misleading marketing that promotes the 'sustainability' of flying.

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


What we achieved in 2019

  • After a multi-year legal battle the EU’s top court said that the failure by German authorities to follow court orders on air pollution is a serious breach of the rule of law and of fundamental rights and endorsed strong sanctions
  • In November, the European Investment Bank announced it will stop funding fossil fuel projects from 2021 after months of advocacy from ClientEarth lawyers
  • We put 100 local authorities across England on notice, warning them that they will violate their legal obligations and risk legal challenge if they do not introduce proper climate change plans
  • Twelve top China judges completed a leadership development programme designed by ClientEarth and Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment to help them implement China’s new environmental laws.
  • We scored a major win in our novel shareholder lawsuit against Enea, the project co-owner of planned coal plant Ostraleka C, putting its future in question.
  • In a world first, our lawyers act on behalf of a group of indigenous Australians to challenge their government’s climate failings at the UN.
  • In March, Poland’s Supreme Administrative Court upheld the decision to ban solid coal and wood burning in Krakow
Cyclists in London

Our 2018 achievements

  • The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union found in our favour in ruling that the European Commission must make impact assessments that support its decision-making process public. This was the culmination of a four-year battle for us, and is a judgement that has far-reaching consequences.
  • We reported four major UK companies to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) over failures to address climate change trends and risks in their reports to shareholders.
  • Following advocacy from our climate finance team, the UK pensions regulator explicitly recognises climate change as a long-term financial risk.
  • Judges ruled that increased logging in Bialowieza Forest violates EU law.
  • ClientEarth made legal history after a High Court judge ruled that the court should have effective oversight of the UK government’s next air pollution plans.

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