The new Climate Program of ClientEarth, a non-profit and non-governmental law organisation that uses the power of law to encourage governments and businesses to take action against climate change and other environmental issues, has already scored its first big win in the United Kingdom.
Through its recently-launched initiative, the NGO enjoyed a victory in court in a case against the UK government that will now leave the ministers of the country no other option but to find a fast solution for one of the biggest environmental problems in the United Kingdom – air pollution in UK cities and towns.
The court ruled in favour of ClientEarth, agreeing that the UK government’s efforts towards reducing air pollution in the country have so far been slow and ineffective – something that has been previously pointed out by one of the most active supporters of the organisation Sumru Ramsey. About two years ago, Ms Ramsey even issued a petition aiming to raise awareness specifically about the poor air quality in London and so far, it has been signed by tens of thousands of people.
Encouraged by individuals like Sumru Ramsey, whose son has already had to experience the negative consequences of air pollution when he lost a friend suffering from a respiratory illness, ClientEarth launched its attack towards UK ministers through its new campaign called Climate Program. The project’s goal is to greatly decrease global emissions by 2020 and to hit the zero-net emission mark by 2050.
ClientEarth’s Climate Program follows the recommendations and insights of the Paris Agreement, according to which the only way to make a positive and long-lasting environmental change on a global level is if both governments and corporations (the public and private sectors) work together towards this common goal. Although the international organisation officially launched its new initiative just a few months ago, it is already backed by a team of renowned lawyers who specialise in company, public, environmental and financial law.
Soon after ClientEarth’s court victory, the UK government was seen taking its first big steps towards the net-zero emission goal. Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, announced the launching of the government’s Road to Zero Strategy which aims at encouraging the purchase and use of ultra-low emission vehicles in the country. As part of this strategy, by 2030, more than 50% of all new vehicles in the United Kingdom will be ultra-low emission.
While the Road to Zero Strategy is viewed as a positive change in the attitude of UK ministers towards a crucially important topic like air pollution, neither ClientEarth’s Climate Program team nor the NGO’s supporters are satisfied with the new anti-pollution plan of the government. According to Sumru Ramsey, the illegal levels of air pollution and NO2 in London are a matter of urgency and that we cannot afford to wait until 2030.
ClientEarth recommends that the Road to Zero Strategy should be reviewed again. Some of the measures which the organisation suggests to the UK government include financial incentives to businesses and consumers who buy zero-emission vehicles. It also explains that changes in the structure of company car tax should also be made to encourage businesses to invest in electric and hybrid vehicles today and not in 2030.
This was ClientEarth’s third case against the government of the United Kingdom on the subject matter of illegal levels of air pollution in UK towns and cities. The NGO’s next step would be to discuss an ultra-low emission vehicle funding in the country with the car industry.
ClientEarth is a non-governmental organisation that was founded in 2008 by James Thornton who today serves as its CEO. The law NGO has offices in Warsaw, London, Beijing and Brussels and it strives to provide proper legal representation to both people and the environment. The organisation focuses on issues such as air pollution, climate change, fossil fuels, protection of forests, wildlife protection, energy efficiency, seafood sustainability and more.