Law firms sign up to climate charter

Some of the world’s most powerful legal firms have signed up to a new charter which delivers a strategy to play their part in the fight against global warming.

Legal Charter 1.5 has been described as a landmark initiative designed to support law firms respond meaningfully to the climate crisis. It has been launched in the UK, ahead of London Climate Action Week.

The Charter, which has been developed collaboratively by a group of large commercial and corporate law firms, consists of a set of core principles that signatories commit to, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the speed and scale necessary to restrict global warming to no more than 1.5°C.

Lubna Shuja, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “The launch of the 1.5C Charter represents another important step being taken by the legal profession in relation to the climate change crisis. Our recently released climate change guidance sets out how solicitors and law firms can continue to be at the forefront of responding to the challenges of climate change.”

Mishcon de Reya,Taylor Wessing, Bates Wells, DWF, Osborne Clarke, DLA Piper, Gowling WLG and Clyde and Co., have all signed up to the charter, while a number of other supporting law firms engaged in the charter working group.

The eight core principles outlined in the Charter text include the development of a methodology on advised emissions; education and upskilling of staff across the legal profession, including junior lawyers; focused pro-bono and meaningful offsetting.

Each of the principles of the Charter, which law firms commit to when signing, is underpinned by corresponding projects including focused pro-bono through the “One Million Hours” pledge and the development of a quantitative methodology for advised emissions.

“The launch of this Charter comes at a crucial time for the legal sector, where there is a growing demand across private practice for law firms to deliver a credible, integrated approach to sustainability and outline a clear roadmap to Net Zero,” the law Society said in a statement.

The charter announcement follows the launch of the milestone “The impact of climate change on solicitors” guidance issued by the Law Society last month.

Alongside the current signatories, six additional supporting firms (Ashurst, Pinsent Masons, Freshfields, Simmons + Simmons, Slaughter & May and Hogan Lovells) are engaged with the Charter as dialogue partners, who have contributed to drafting and shaping of the Charter text and the wider working group.

Lubna Shuja, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, said:

Dr Thom Wetzer, associate professor of Law and Finance at the University of Oxford, explained: “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.”