Last week, eight top firms signed the Legal Charter 1.5, establishing core principles to enable the reduction of emissions on a timescale that will prevent global warming surpassing 1.5C.
The eight signatories currently include Bates Wells, Clyde & Co, DLA Piper, DWF, Gowling WLG, Mishcon de Reya, Osborne Clarke, and Taylor Wessing. An additional six firms – Ashurst, Pinsent Masons, Freshfields, Simmons & Simmons, Slaughter and May, and Hogan Lovells – are engaged with the Charter and contributed to its drafting.
The Charter includes the development of a methodology on advised emissions reductions, education and upskilling of staff across the legal profession, and how credible offsetting initiatives can be utilised. The Charter also aims to “strengthen the conversation” between climate litigators and climate scientists so that climate litigation has a better prospect of success.
Alexander Rhodes, a partner and head of Mishcon Purpose, said: “Climate litigation will only be effective in addressing critical questions regarding responsibility and accountability if emerging science is well understood.”
A recent report from Law Students for Climate Accountability has stated large UK law firms play an “indispensable role” in supporting the fossil fuel industry. Furthermore, the Law Society confirmed in April that climate change is a valid consideration when choosing to accept instructions from clients. The Charter was announced ahead of this weeks London Climate Action Week, highlighting the significant focus on climate conscious actions within the legal sector.
Dr Thom Wetzer, Associate Professor of Law and Finance at the University of Oxford, commented: “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.”