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"Beating the people, in court, who are destroying the planet is fun"

Takeaways from Ed Andrew talking to James Thornton.

Ed Andrew talks to James Thornton lawyer, activist, environmentalist, CEO and founder of Client Earth, a not for profit whose mission is to use the law to protect the planet, its people and all living creatures.


Client Earth was founded in 2007 and James has been dubbed 'one of the ten people most likely to change the planet' by the New Statesman.  With 120 staff in offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, New York and Beijing we we talk about the projects that he is working on across the globe, the work in 5 countries in Africa, and a detailed look at climate change and its science, how he has brought matters and won against the UK and US Governments, aided the European  Commission in enforcing environmental laws and advising the Chinese Government on environmental sustainability.


He also talks about his books, his journey as a Soto Zen priest, meditation, organic and biodynamic farming and the tips he gives to those wanting to help support the planet.    

  • How the environmental movement and lobbying started in the US in the 1970s, in Australia since 1980 with the Environmental Defenders Office but not until much later in Europe.


  • He explains that everything to do with the environment and its law starts with science.


  • The five stage process of science, policy, creating law, implementing the law and enforcing it.


  • On bringing a lot of air pollution cases against the UK and Germany and being very successful 


  • On winning the right to protect the Bialowieza forest in Poland which dates from the Ice Age from a right wing Polish government who ignored an EC court injunction, working with the European Commission before a full 15 judge panel of the ECJ which upheld the injunction and imposed penalties.


  • Building a coalition of citizens to protect and fight for the environment 


  • The enormous financial penalties that the EU court can impose and enforce


  • Explaining the evolution of the environmental movement after the the civil rights movement, and how it shaped the US funding and environmental lobbying (16.00)


  • Working with the communities then Governments of Ghana, Gabon and Republic of Congo to protect forests and their people (19.20)​


  • Climate change and forced migration (24.00)


  • How climate migration has brought about right wing nationalist movements in Austria, Germany, France and the UK (24.55)


  • Right wing governments do not prioritise the environment and reverse climate policies


  • Discussing the Paris Climate Accord, now signed by every country on earth (28.34) 


  • How to create a more culturally integrated world


  • On working with China and building green sponge cities (30.50) working in China, China is doing remarkable things and the opposite of Trump


  • Access to greenery and nature is very helpful to people psychologically and physically


  • How in China citizen groups can sue companies who are polluting, can even sue even state owned companies as a result of a law passed in 2014


  • On China and preserving their nation for another 2,000 years (33.30)


  • The Stanford University research in 2015 on reducing 'rumination’ its negative reparative harmful thoughts and the neuroscience of walking in nature - how it positively impacts the brain chemistry in the pre-frontal cortex  (36.30)


  • How meditation is another way of getting to the open state you find when you are in nature (40.00)


  • On meditation, being a Soto Zen Priest, his teacher and the different techniques and branches of Japanese Zen practice (from 40.45)


  • The different paths you can take to help the planet and its climate regardless of your profession, why it is important to become politically aware (46.20)      


  • On his approach to hardened climate sceptics and how the science is on his side.


  • ​On the anti climate change, anti organic media in Australia, UK and USA all driven by Rupert Murdoch'a right wing nationalistic news. How in France organic farming and climate change is n France it is not a political issue (54.50)


  • The growth of the biodynamic wine industry (56.05)


  • How all of our environmental problems stem from mental problems that can be changed and how he is very excited to spend time trying to make this things happen (57.45)


  • Suzuki Roshi his meditation teacher (59.00)

  • How bird song evolved in Australia and radiated out from there.


Books he loves (59.40)


Client Earth - written by James and his partner (his book tour of Australia)

The Feynman Challenge - a book of poems about nature, science and the environment dedicated to the scientist Richard Feynman, written by James.


Where song began by Tim Low, an Australian writer, talks about birds and modern science of bird evolution.

To make a donation or to contact James please click on the links below.


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