Environmentally, our planet lacks the laws to keep it safe and those laws we do have are feebly enforced. Every new year is the hottest in human history, while forest, reef, ice, tundra, and species are disappearing forever. It is easy to lose all hope. Who will stop the planet from committing ecological suicide? The UN? Governments? Activists? Corporations? Engineers? Scientists? Whoever, environmental laws need to be enforceable and enforced.
Step forward a fresh breed of passionately purposeful environmental lawyers. They provide new rules to legislatures, see that they are enforced, and keep us informed. They tackle big business to ensure money flows into cultural change, because money is the grammar of business just as science is the grammar of nature. At the head of this new legal army stands James Thornton, who takes governments to court, and wins. And his client is the Earth. With Client Earth, we travel from Poland to Ghana, from Alaska to China, to see how citizens can use public interest law to protect their planet. Foundations and philanthropists support the law group ClientEarth because they see, plainly and brightly, that the law is a force all parties recognize. Lawyers who take the Earth as their client are exceptional and inspirational. They give us back our hope.
James Thornton is an environmental lawyer and writer. He is the founding CEO of ClientEarth, a not-for-profit environmental-law organisation with offices in London, Brussels, and Warsaw. The New Statesman named James as one of ten people who could change the world. He is a member of the bars of New York, California, and the Supreme Court of the United States, and a solicitor of England and Wales.
Martin Goodman is the author of nine books of fiction and nonfiction. He holds the chair of Creative Writing at the University of Hull, where he is director of the Philip Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing.
"When compassion for life on Earth, or call it fury at the everyday and casual destruction of our stunning biosphere, when these two powers are honed by these exceptional environmental lawyers to a fierce and fine point, change happens, and the world is a better place for it. Humanity's grace and dignity are restored each time a case is successfully brought and won – it is truly a global battle fought between the mindless proponents of tragedy, and the (sometimes extremely) courageous proponents of hope."
– Emily Young
"This excellent book shows how it is possible to use the law to hold politicians to the promises that they make when they sign agreements on environmental and climate change."
– Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics, University of Cambridge
"The story of ClientEarth – and of its charismatic Founder, James Thornton – is truly inspirational. His only client is our battered, abused planet, and his favoured arsenal is the rule of law in defense of public interest. The hard-fought victories that you'll hear about are all important, but more important still are the vision, values and gritty dedication of an amazing group of lawyers and campaigners to whom we owe a very great deal."
– Jonathon Porritt
"This book is an inspiration for those of us trying to build a sustainable future – and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to know how and why we must deploy and enforce the law in the fight against ecological destruction."
– Caroline Lucas
"Can lawyers save the planet? Musty court rooms may be less romantic than hugging trees and less dramatic than accosting whalers on the high seas, but the answer may be yes. And guess what, lawyers can hug trees and have a lyrical turn of phrase, too."
– Fred Pearce
"ClientEarth have been pioneers in using the tool of environmental legislation to tackle the modern scourge of air pollution. This is the story of how they're doing it."
– Ed Miliband
"[A] great book about how to save the planet using the long arm of the law."
"An inspiring read. It shows how the law is not just within the gift of the authorities to wield. Engaged citizens can do it too."
"A hopeful book about the environment and a page-turner about the law."
– The Guardian
"The book is inspirational in a hard headed, let's go to work-and-get-real-results sort of way [...] There's a global vision. It's quietly amazing. One of the more significant books of the year."
– Oxford Today