Oct 2014 – Sep 2020

Climate strategic litigation Europe

Europe map


Multiple countries – Europe

To accelerate the transition to low-carbon living in Europe by reducing emissions from existing coal plants, improving air quality and reducing emissions from the corporate sector.

$9,729,226 Grant Value

$356,720 evaluation budget


Many social movements have won their cause through the use of the law and we believe that climate change will be no exception. 

Through litigation, great changes can be made that improve the lives of children and secure a safer climate. Our belief is that environmental campaigning must be coupled with using the law as a powerful tool in order to bring about social and political change for good. 

Through this grant we support ClientEarth –  a team of cutting-edge, activist environmental and climate lawyers – to deliver ground-breaking and impactful climate change cases.  

Our shared belief is that litigation and pre-litigation activities can result in systemic and sustainable change by strengthening the enforcement of existing regulations, triggering regulatory and legislative changes, and complementing more traditional campaigning tools such as public mobilisation. 

In particular, we support their climate litigation work in Europe on three specific topics:

  • Clean air: Many countries and regions of the EU are in breach of their obligations in terms of air quality. This causes thousands of deaths across Europe. In addition, most sources of air pollution (especially in the transport sector) are also greenhouse gases and therefore participate in global warming.
  • Energy & coal: The energy sector is the main emitter of greenhouse gas in Europe. The EU has strong decarbonisation targets for its power sector, which still relies too much on burning coal (also a major source of air pollution), the most polluting form of fossil fuel. And yet, these are not always fully enforced.
  • Company & financials: The business and finance sectors often fail to take into account climate risk and impact in their management or investment decisions. This could be in breach of regulations on reporting and on fiduciary duty (among others).

This grant complements many of our other grants in Europe (including the European Climate Foundation and the Carbon Disclosure Project) by offering complementary tool to our advocacy efforts. 

In June 2016, A review of the operations and governance of the organisation was undertaken, which included working with the Board of Trustees, engaging members of Staff and Senior Management Team to better understand their needs and to be more effective. 

The reports of the review have been translated into an ‘action plan’ for the strengthening of the capacity of the organisation.  Implementation of this will be undertaken throughout 2017.  Building organisational capacity is a vital tool for achieving greater impact and it is expected that this programme will enhance the work of ClientEarth overall. 


London smog

Air pollution in the UK

In 2015, ClientEarth challenged the British government on the illegal levels of air pollution witnessed in the country, one of their most significant cases in recent years.

The case – brought by ClientEarth – went all the way to the European Court of Justice and to the British Supreme Court, where it was ordered that the government should take immediate action to tackle air pollution.

The argument was that the UK has been in breach of EU air pollution limits for years, which is linked to thousands of premature deaths each year.

“Because we believe that everyone has the right to breathe clean air, we took the UK government to court over air pollution, with one ClientEarth lawyer, and won. We also protect people from dangerous chemicals by defending EU laws on toxics, and campaign to make sure people can find out what’s in the products they use every day.” -- Alan Andrews, Clean Air Lawyer