Can Lawyers Save the Planet? 

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Oct 23, 2018
by Salzburg Global Seminar
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Can Lawyers Save the Planet? 

This year’s Lloyd N. Cutler Lecture on the Rule of Law looks at how the law can help better protect our planet Photo by Dikaseva on Unsplash

As governments attempt to negotiate guidelines for a global climate accord, Salzburg Global Seminar will host the eighth Lloyd N. Cutler Lecture on the Rule of Law on in Washington to consider the role of lawyers in the battle against climate change. 

James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth, will deliver the lecture on Wednesday, November 14 at The Phillips Collection, where he will discuss emerging international environmental legal trends, environmental policy strategies and practices, and how the law can be used to better protect our planet.

Environmental lawyer and social entrepreneur Thornton founded ClientEarth in 2007. As Europe’s first public interest environmental law organization, ClientEarth uses advocacy, litigation and research to address climate change, biodiversity loss and toxic chemicals. From his early years in forcing the US government to meet its environmental legal obligations under the Clean Water Act to recent court victories against the UK government over pollution and protecting the Bialowieza Forest in Poland, Thornton and his firm have had many successes for their number one client: our planet. 

Last year, Thornton authored the book Client Earth, which details the organization’s success over the past decade. Co-written with his husband, writer Martin Goodman, Client Earth has won awards and plaudits, with British newspaper, The Guardian calling it “a hopeful book about the environment and a page-turner about the law.”

He also advises the Supreme People’s Court of China on the development and enforcement of environmental law. Last year, ahead of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Thronton stated that China is poised to “leave the US in the dust on clean energy.”

Thornton follows the likes of Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, former State Department legal advisor John Bellinger, and former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt in delivering the thought-provoking annual lecture.

The Lloyd N. Cutler Lecture was established by Salzburg Global Seminar in 2010 in memory of Lloyd N. Cutler, the Washington “superlawyer” who served as White House Counsel to Presidents Carter and Clinton. Cutler also served as Chair of Salzburg Global Seminar’s Board of Directors for a decade and advocated passionately for mentoring young leaders with a commitment to shaping a better world through law and the rule of law. 

To attend the event, please register on Splashthat.