UK law firms cut carbon emissions by almost 2%

Leading UK law firms have reduced carbon emissions by 1.8%, more than 29,000 tonnes of CO2, over the past 12 months, according to a report published today.

Findings from the report, created by the Legal Sector Alliance (LSA), also show that the average carbon emitted per employee at the firms also decreased to 3.63 tonnes of CO2 per member of staff compared to a baseline figure of 3.9 tonnes.

According to the alliance, more than 250 firms, together accounting for more than a third of all solicitors in private practice in England and Wales, have signed up to reducing their carbon footprint and adopting environmentally sustainable practices.

A total of 69 law firms reported on their performance in other key areas impacting on climate change performance, including the impact of operations; indirect impact; climate change awareness; advising clients; best practice and engaging the public; progress and accountability, and emissions reduction targets.

More than two-thirds (65%) of firms reported that they advised clients on their opportunities and obligations, whilst over one-third (38%) said they provided training to clients.

Over half (56%) of the firms said they had proactively communicated with clients on environment and climate change issues.

The report also found that at 95% of firms, responsibility for environmental impact rests with a senior representative, while 35% of firms review their suppliers’ environmental performances annually or ‘more frequently’, with 38% planning to do so in 2013.

It also showed that 41% of firms are now committed to reporting their climate change performance annually or more frequently, compared to 38% in 2012.

Chief executive of the Law Society, Desmond Hudson, said: “This study shows that law firms lead the fight against climate change in the professional services. This is no mean feat for a sector that includes firms of all sizes, from sole practitioners to Magic Circle firms with billion pound turnovers.

“Law firms are in a unique position to influence employees, suppliers, clients and policy makers. It is in our collective interest to act on climate change, and we can achieve more by acting together,” he added.

Chairman of the Legal Sector Alliance, Sir Nigel Knowles, said: “More firms have committed to reporting their carbon performance, many are advising their clients on climate change, and an increasing number provide training. Despite the challenging economic conditions, law firms are taking their commitment to combating climate change more seriously than ever before.”

Leigh Stringer

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