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.
2023 so far
A judge rules the landmark greenwashing legal action against French oil and gas giant TotalEnergies is allowed to proceed, marking a major step forward in protecting consumers from misleading marketing claims over sustainability.
ClientEarth files a legal complaint against US-based agricultural giant Cargill over its failure to adequately deal with its contribution to soy-driven deforestation and human rights violations in Brazil.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rules that the Bulgarian government violated the law when it gave the biggest coal plant in the Balkans permission to pollute beyond EU legal limits, following a lawsuit brought by Bulgarian environmental organisations Greenpeace Bulgaria and Za Zemiata, with support from ClientEarth.
We file a case against the UK financial regulator over its decision to approve the prospectus of a company with significant interests in the Cambo and Rosebank oil and gas fields in the North Sea, despite the company’s disclosures failing to adequately describe the climate-related risks faced by the company and therefore breaching legal requirements.
ClientEarth, Surfrider Foundation Europe and Zero Waste France file a lawsuit against the French company, Danone, over its global plastic pollution. The case argues that Danone is not doing enough to reduce its plastic footprint and therefore it's failing to live up to its duties under the law.
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
In November, the European Investment Bank announced it will stop funding fossil fuel projects from 2021 after months of advocacy from ClientEarth lawyers.
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.
The EU’s top court upheld the emergency ban on logging in Bialowieza Forest, Europe’s oldest forest, saying it will impose fines of at least €100,000 a day if Poland’s Environment Minister keeps ignoring the Court’s decisions. By the end of November, the harvesters had withdrawn.
We warn BP and Glencore of the risk of investor lawsuits based on poor climate change reporting. The UK financial regulator changes its risk reporting rules to incorporate climate risk in response to our work
Working alongside local communities and other campaigners we block Polnoc plant, the largest new coal power plant in Europe.
We train judges and prosecutors in China to use environmental law. Since then, ClientEarth has supported the development of more than 600 environmental courts and over 140,000 legal challenges have been filed, against companies and government departments violating environmental laws.
Our EU-wide community power project establishes the legal basis to help people own renewables and contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable power system.
We win our Supreme Court case against the UK government for failing to tackle our dirty air, because climate change and air pollution go hand in hand.
Coal is the main cause of life-limiting air quality in Krakow. We convince the authorities to ban coal for domestic heating.
We block Polish government attempts to prop up its polluting coal fleet with free carbon emissions allowances for ineligible power plants.
We file complaints against Rio Tinto and BP for inadequately disclosing climate impacts in their annual reports.
We are key players in getting an EU-wide law banning illegally harvested rainforest timber passed, significantly reducing CO2 emissions and protecting fragile habitats.
In response to our work the UK Government agrees to do environmental assessments before approving new coal plants. A new generation of climate-damaging coal power is shelved.
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