James Thornton


Until 2007, Europe lacked a vital tool to defend nature and combat climate change. Using law to protect the environment was a common concept in the United States but had not taken root over the Atlantic. James Thornton changed that when he set up ClientEarth, an environmental legal charity, 14 years ago. From the humble beginnings of his kitchen table, he has overseen its growth to nine offices on three continents, a staff of over 200, and a score of legal successes to protect the natural world. James has led the charge to stop polluting power plants all over Europe, to prevent illegal logging in Europe’s oldest forest, to force the UK government to clean up air pollution and most of all, he has empowered civil society to bring environmental cases of their own. James' objectives, as ClientEarth's leader, are to use the power of the law to tackle the climate crisis and protect essential ecosystems. He aims to empower people to use law to protect the planet, and dedicates his life to fundraising and enabling ClientEarth’s staff to achieve the charity’s goals.