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What’s next for the climate change lawyers?


About this ThinkIn

Climate change lawyers have already proven they can take on powerful corporations, and successfully too. How far can they go?

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Climate lawyers have taken on the UK government on air quality and won – three times. They’ve faced down bp over its advertising. They’ve forced Heathrow to abandon plans for a third runway, and all that’s in one relatively small country. Worldwide, nearly 1500 climate change lawsuits have been filed so far against companies, governments and planning authorities, and that number’s rising exponentially. Could it be that planet Earth will find its most formidable defenders not online or on the streets, but in the courts?

Chair: Giles Whittell, Editor and Partner, Tortoise

Our special guests include:

Rowan Smith, a specialist in human rights and environmental law and a solicitor at Leigh Day, who successfully represented environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth Leigh day in a legal challenge against the government’s decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Tyler Maroney, Co-Founder of Quest Investigations, a private investigations firm who collect evidence for litigators, handle internal investigations, unravel complex corporate structures, spearhead cases that support the public interest, and conduct due diligence. He focuses on supporting commercial civil litigators, inside counsel, and white-collar criminal defense attorneys by gathering facts to resolve complex disputes. He was previously the managing partner of the Mintz Group’s New York office and worked at Kroll. Tyler’s background is in journalism. He produced films for Frontline, was a reporter for Fortune, and has written for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. In 2001, he was a Fulbright scholar in Spain. He is the author of The Modern Detective: How Corporate Intelligence is Reshaping the World, to be published in September 2020 by Riverhead, about the crucial role private investigators play in global commerce, government accountability, and legal disputes.

Joana Setzer, an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Joana’s research explores the engagement of subnational governments and the role of courts in climate governance. She has authored over thirty peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. She is currently serving as a Contributing Author for Working Group 3 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Review (IPCC AR6) writing about climate change litigation. Since 2013 she has been involved in the Grantham Research Institute’s Climate Change Laws of the World project – the most comprehensive global resource on climate policy, legislation and litigation.

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Climate lawyers have taken on the UK government on air quality and won – three times. They’ve faced down bp over its advertising. They’ve forced Heathrow to abandon plans for a third runway, and all that’s in one relatively small country. Worldwide, nearly 1500 climate change lawsuits have been filed so far against companies, governments and planning authorities, and that number’s rising exponentially. Could it be that planet Earth will find its most formidable defenders not online or on the streets, but in the courts?


watch now
editor and invited experts

Giles Whittell
Editor and Partner

Rowan Smith
Specialist in human rights and environmental law and a solicitor at Leigh Day

Tyler Maroney
Co-Founder of Quest Investigations

Joana Setzer
Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics and Political Science.