Episode seven of Climate Curious podcast is now live with our special guest, James Thornton.

“Environmental problems are all mental problems, because how we think about things is what we then do, right?”, says James Thornton, the founding CEO of ClientEarth, and one of The New Statesmen’s ‘ten people who could chance the world’ – a lawyer who helps protect the planet and its people, on the latest episode of the Climate Curious podcast by TEDxLondon.

In our most-inspirational interview to date, this world-accomplished lawyer shares how he is dismantling the fossil-fuel industry, one nation at a time. From shutting down coal power plants in Poland, re-designing what law looks like in China, making air pollution a thing of the past in the UK and uniting with local communities in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia and the Republic of Congo to stop deforestation, his astounding life’s work demonstrates how the law can be used to save the planet.

“It’s not often you hear people talk, and they’re actually changing the world”

Ben Hurst, co-host of Climate Curious

Drawn to the law for its power and ability to pull levers across wide-ranging outcomes, James explains how ClientEarth, his 220 lawyer strong organisation across 26 countries is tackling climate change from many different legal perspectives. It works on both the side of governments to create new climate laws and train judges, and directly with the communities affected by the fall-out of big business exploiting people and planet.

What’s most fascinating is the way it uses the law to protect the environment, relying not only on environmental law, but tapping into corporate law. For instance, in Poland, purchasing 30 euros of shares to sue the officers and directors of the defendant company as a shareholder – something never done before. Displaying how getting creative with climate issues and trying new things is the only way out of this crisis.

Europe’s largest power plant – Belchatow

His lawyers work to stop climate-injurious infrastructures being built in the first place, as well as fighting to shut them down. For example, in Europe, the team recently succeeded in getting the biggest emitter of carbon fumes in Europe decommissioned – Belchatow, in Poland. To scale, it emits more greenhouse gases in one power plant than the entire country of New Zealand every year.

In this Climate Curious episode, hosted by TEDxLondon’s Maryam Pasha and advocate and activist Ben Hurst, James reveals what it takes to sue Governments and huge corporations, shares why working as a community is key to dismantling the fossil fuel economy and explores why getting creative with the law is empowering nations to redesign ‘the system’ from within to reduce carbon emissions. 

Ultimately, as James says, we need to get everyone involved in using the law to save the planet: “this has got to be a big party.” This week’s Climate Confessions? (Or Climate Crimes – for one week only!), we’re talking environmental litigation envy, disposable face masks and how your coffee addiction can lead you to some climate compromising decisions.

Until next time, stay Curious!

How can I listen?

Listen here: Entale | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Want to know more?

If want to find out more about the research, sources and ideas that James Thornton speaks about in the podcast episode, then make sure you check ClientEarth’s website for more details.