UK law firms launch net-zero charter

A host of prominent UK law firms have launched a new landmark charter to help companies in the sector deliver meaningful responses to the climate crisis by setting net-zero targets.

UK law firms launch net-zero charter

The Charter features a set of core principles that signatories must commit to in order to become members

The Legal Charter 1.5 was published on Thursday (22 June) and has been developed collaboratively by some of the biggest corporate law firms in the UK.

The Charter features a set of core principles that signatories must commit to in order to become members, namely to reduce emissions in line with the 1.5C target through net-zero action plans.

It also features a methodology of advised emissions reductions and how corporates can educate and upskill staff across the legal profession and how credible offsetting initiatives can be utilised.

The first eight members are Taylor Wessing, Bates Wells, DWF, Osborne Clarke, DLA Piper, Mischon de Reya, Gowling WLG and Clyde and Co.

Additionally, the Charter has unveiled Ashurst, Pinsent Masons, Freshfields, Simmons + Simmons, Slaughter & May and Hogan Lovells as supporting partners who help contribute to the shaping of the text.

The University of Oxford’s associate professor of law and finance, Dr Thom Wetzer, said: “The legal profession has the potential to do tremendous good and it can be part of the solution to the climate crisis. That is why the launch of this Legal Charter is such a welcome step forward. It will allow law firms to share expertise with those seeking to improve the current system.

“The legal profession needs new standards – from investment management agreements that account for green preferences, to sustainability-linked bonds and contracts-for-difference in the hydrogen market. Investors need guidance and policymakers require training. Committing time and expertise to that cause, if well-directed, can rid us of obstacles that currently hold back the net-zero Transition. This Charter will help us, collectively, to move along this path.”

The announcement comes after last month’s launch of new guidance for the sector on “the impact of climate change on solicitors”. The guidance was issued by Law Society.

Other initiatives in the sector include the “Green Pledge”, a global initiative from the Campaign for Greener Arbitrations, which was established in 2019. The initiative commits firms to implement practices that improve sustainability while raising awareness of the climate crisis.

Last year, law firm Shoosmiths signed up to the pledge, as part of an ongoing mission to reach net-zero emissions by 2025.

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