Prominent City firms sign climate crisis pledge

Osborne Clarke, DLA Piper and Mishcon de Reya among eight firms signing pledge to help limit global warming to 1.5°C
International law firm network Lex Mundi has launched a comparative online guide to climate change law.

The Lexi Mundi guide will cover emissions trading schemes and cover 30 jurisdictions Shutterstock

Taylor Wessing, Osborne Clarke and DLA Piper are among a group of eight prominent corporate law firms to have signed up for a new initiative intended to help law firms respond to the climate crisis.

Launched ahead of London Climate Action Week, Legal Charter 1.5 has been developed collaboratively by a group of large corporate law firms and commits signatories to a set of principles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the speed and scale necessary to restrict global warming to no more than 1.5°C.

So far the Charter has also been signed by Clyde & Co, DWF, Bates Wells, Mischon de Reya and Gowling WLG.  

The Charter contains eight core principles, including developing a methodology on advised emissions; identifying and promoting constructive reforms and informing public policy; upskilling staff across the profession; and exploring how to develop a large-scale offsetting project. 

Osborne Clarke said that each of the principles in the Charter 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.”

It added that the launch of the 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.

“Almost all human activities which have material impacts on the climate either directly or indirectly involve the legal sector. Therefore the sector has a vital part to play in leading transformational change to mitigate climate change,” the Charter’s website says.  

Six more law firms – Ashurst, Slaughter and May, Simmons & Simmons, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hogan Lovells and Pinsent Masons – have contributed to the development of the Charter but are not current signatories. 

The launch follows last month’s publication of Law Society guidance on the impact of climate change on solicitors.

Law Society president, Lubna Shuja, 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.”

Dr Thom Wetzer, associate professor of law and finance at the University of Oxford, commented: “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.”

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