With the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) fast approaching us, the question comes to mind as to what the legal profession is currently doing to elevate discussions of and address climate change. It is important that we review the role of lawyers and how we can use skills and expertise to help.
Climate change and its impact on our society, environment and economy nationally and globally is becoming an increasingly prevalent topic of discussion.
Research conducted by the Law Society of Scotland in advance of COP26 found that 57% of their members felt climate change was on a scale of being somewhat or very important to them professionally. Reasoning for this growing belief differs between individuals but one important reason is a consideration of how our advice can play a part (both positively and potentially obstructively). More detail on this research can be found here.
Examples of current organisations and groups focussing on climate change
The below details a few of the many organisations and groups within the legal profession playing their part in utilising legal know-how to tackle climate change. At the outset, this is simply a snapshot of the brilliant work being conducted and not a complete list.
Climate Change Working Group: set up by the Law Society of Scotland and involving representatives from a wide range of Society Committees such as Public Policy, Competition law and Energy law. This group reviews the role of the Society and how it can most effectively support members interests in COP26 and climate change more generally.
The Chancery Lane Project: a collective group of lawyers globally who work together collaboratively to formulate practical, climate-focussed contract clauses that could be used in commercial agreements and law firm precedent documents.
Legal Sustainability Alliance: a group open to all law firms, schools of law and in-house counsel offering an opportunity for members to share knowledge and best practise in action against climate change. This group offers tools, advice and other support for members seeking to tackle climate change/achieve net zero.
Lawyers for Net Zero: a group of in-house counsel and other legal professions working to increase the impact of these stakeholders in achieving net zero through knowledge sharing and action learning groups.
Greener Litigation Pledge: a mission statement setting out the real-life changes that litigators can pledge to commit to in order to help attain net zero. Those involved in litigation can sign up to this pledge and participate in the Greener Litigation Project to assist in achieving this commitment.
Net Zero Lawyers Alliance: a coalition of member firms aiming to speed up the transition to net zero in recognition of the role of the legal profession, particularly commercial firms, intrinsic to this aim.
There is a real movement in the legal profession to collaborate and pool resources and expertise in support of tackling climate change and reaching net zero commitments. This shows the importance of the legal profession within the debate to emphasise that we all have a part to play in this all-encompassing challenge. It is hopeful that this trend continues during and after COP26.
The Law Society of Scotland’s COP26 event on Friday 29 October 2021 is free to attend for any Law Society member. Please click here to register to attend.