Global CEO Excellence Awards 2022

CEO MONTHLY / Global CEO Excellence Awards 2022 27 Jun22335 The earth is our home, and it is being destroyed. Animals are going extinct, rising sea levels are driving people from their homes, and global temperatures are rising. According to Statista, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels and industry have increased considerably since 2000, and in 2019 reached a record high of 36.7 billion metric tons of CO2. Quite simply, climate change is the biggest issue that we currently face. However, this is not a crisis Combatting climate change is not an option – it is imperative. ClientEarth is at the forefront of this battle, using a wealth of legal expertise to cause systemic change and a global impact. Over the past 15 years, James Thornton has led ClientEarth to take on governments, corporations, and industries, and it is his tenacity that has shaped it into a leading environmental organisation. that can be pinned on the individual; instead, systemic change needs to take place around the world. ClientEarth believes that this is possible – that by demanding and pushing for industry-level transformation, greater change can be invoked. In fact, the organisation believes that this is the only path towards a healthier and brighter future. Henceforth, ClientEarth, which was founded in 2007, utilises the law to drive lasting systemic change that will protect the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. It targets powerful institutions (governments and leading industries, for example) and leverages its legal knowledge to hold such parties accountable. As the only charity listed by the Financial Times as one of the Top 50 Global Law Firms for Innovation, ClientEarth’s mission is making a significant impact. It is a pioneering, powerhouse group of expert lawyers, dedicated to saving our planet. Indeed, the organisation boasts a spectacular team of over 250 staff members, including lawyers and legal experts in offices around the world. They are passionate and unapologetic about their desire to induce the betterment of the planet through targeting the largest contributors to climate change. At the helm stands James Thornton, ClientEarth’s founding CEO. His background, which is complete with an extensive and highly successful legal career, showcases a long and unwavering interest in the protection of the planet. In 1983 he joined the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), where he set up a Citizens’ Enforcement Project. Additionally, under Reagan’s administration, James discovered that the number of Clean Water Act prosecutions per year had fallen from 300 to zero. He brought forward sixty cases in six months on the behalf of local citizens and won every case, obliging companies to comply with the law and clean up the damage. He created the organisation in 2007, and over the past 15 years, ClientEarth has bagged a multitude of legal wins on behalf of the climate and nature. ClientEarth’s strategy is to use the power of the law to protect life on earth and it is three-fold: to shape, implement and enforce the law. Through using this approach, ClientEarth won a court case against the UK government for its failure to address air pollution, resulting in the eventual implementation of a clean air zone that reduced air pollutants by over 30% in London. Currently, ClientEarth’s teams are working on over 160 active cases worldwide. Of course, ClientEarth’s method often comes paired with a range of challenges. While the law can be a powerful tool in making a long-lasting impact, it also takes an abundance of dedication and knowledge of regulations and legislation. Moreover, ClientEarth is working against a ticking clock, as whilst people are beginning to wake up to the issue, there is still a long way to go in order to reach netzero emissions by 2050. Consequently, for James, one of the most important opportunities was being the second NGO in history to work with the Chinese government on its climate efforts. In 2020, Statista shows that China was the biggest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for 30.64% of global emissions. However, through its work, ClientEarth has helped train over 1,500 judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, and, as a result, more than 100,000 environmental public interest cases have been brought. After a decade and a half leading the organisation, he is moving into the non-executive role of Founder and President and while he will no longer be part of the day-today leadership of the organisation he will continue to offer legal expertise and strategic advice, and act as a powerful voice for ClientEarth, and our planet. Contact: Georgia Shortman Company: ClientEarth Web Address: Environmental CEO of the Year (Europe): James Thornton