ClientEarth, an environmental law charity, is opening an office in Singapore to build out its presence in Asia. ClientEarth focuses on driving environmental change through litigation, training and the facilitation of regulatory change. ClientEarth states that the Singapore office will focus on driving regulatory change and the transition towards a decarbonised economy in Asia.

What does ClientEarth do?

ClientEarth uses the legal system as a lever to push forward an environmental agenda, covering topics including biodiversity, pollution, climate change and habitat conservation. Most notably, ClientEarth has brought legal proceedings in various EU jurisdictions in an effort to drive a reduction in CO2 emissions and air pollution:

  • In the UK, ClientEarth challenged the government’s decision to grant planning permission to a major natural gas plant, and, while unsuccessful in its challenge, obtained a ruling from the Court of Appeal that planning permission decisions must consider a project’s carbon lock-in risks and take into account climate change considerations.
  • In Poland, ClientEarth won a shareholder lawsuit against Enea SA in respect of its decision to construct a new coal-fired powerplant, and obtained a court order to require the negotiated closure of the EU’s largest coal-fired powerplant.
  • In Belgium, ClientEarth recently commenced proceedings against the Central Bank of Belgium in respect of its qualitative easing programme for "fuelling the climate crisis". Our note on these proceedings can be found here.

In addition, ClientEarth recently released what it refers to as ‘the Greenwashing Files’, which highlight the results of investigations undertaken in relation to major energy and petrochemicals companies and compare their advertising and public pledges around climate change to their underlying environmental impact and performance.

ClientEarth’s Singapore office

ClientEarth is expanding to Singapore (in addition to a pre-existing office in China) with an initial focus on the clean energy transition in Asia. Noting the region’s vulnerability to climate change, ClientEarth also highlights the region’s dynamism and importance for innovation, and the opportunities in the region to address climate change, pollution and a reliance upon coal-fired power plants.

ClientEarth’s stated intention is for its Singapore office to work with governments, the private sector and civil society to strengthen climate and energy policy, sustainable finance and business strategies aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. While ClientEarth’s initial focus appears to be on driving policy and regulatory change, a meaningful component of ClientEarth’s work globally lies in contentious proceedings, and the additional office in Singapore suggests potentially increasing appetite and opportunity for climate change-related litigation in Asia.