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July 15 2021

Delivering Net Zero and in-house lawyers’ pivotal role

Industry Insights

Adam Woodhall

Adam Woodhall

Delivering Net Zero and in-house lawyers’ pivotal role

Lawyers play a pivotal role in climate change

In-house lawyers have a crucial position at the centre of their organisation, and Lawyers for Net Zero works with counsel so they can use their influence to support their organisation to guard against greenwashing and achieve legitimate Net Zero.

The pivotal role that counsel can play is becoming ever more important. Regulators, markets and customers are demanding increasingly stringent ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria. Even more critically, the seriousness of the climate crisis is becoming clearer by the week, with unprecedented and extreme weather events happening all around the world.

Businesses and governments are reacting to this by making bolder environmental pledges.  The pace of action is however not yet sufficiently rapid to match the escalating need to transition rapidly to a Net Zero world.  Therefore we need those with influence to ensure the action matches the rhetoric.

In-house lawyers are trusted business advisors

The legal sector has an opportunity to be on the right side of history in helping keep a liveable planet for all.  When it comes to delivering climate action, the most important part of the sector are in-house lawyers, due to their direct interface with their organisation; a trusted advisor who can act as a moral compass.

A Law Society report stated: “Lawyers will be asked to help their clients identify, avoid and manage physical, liability and transition risks linked to climate change.”  The opportunity for in-house counsel goes beyond this, as they are always ‘in the room’ when big decisions are made, particularly when regulations, new projects, risks and compliance are considered.

Lawyers for Net Zero was formally launched in June 2021, after a pilot phase which included 20 in-house counsel from well-known organisations such as E.ON, Arup, Deutsche Bank, Nestle and GSK in addition to counsel from numerous smaller organisations.

We're gaining momentum

The programme we offer is designed to convene a community of likeminded individuals, give them focus and guidance via our Net Zero Action Principles and then support them to generate and maintain momentum with our Action Learning Groups.

In-house lawyers have a potentially pivotal role to play in driving sustainability and delivery on real change into the heart of their organisations. It’s a chance for them to lead and to support their businesses in leading the way as well.

As Executive Director of Lawyers for Net Zero, I’m delighted that we’ve had such positive feedback from the pilot participants, and I’m really pleased to now be inviting the wider in-house legal community to join our initiative.

Join us and find out more

 Find out more about our exciting initiative on the Flying Solo webinar: “Attenborough, ESG and Net Zero: How GCs are driving the sustainability agenda”

This will feature two Lawyers for Net Zero champions sharing their story on how they are helping deliver climate action:

·       Fiona Penhallurick, General Counsel of Birmingham Airport

·       Stephanie Beat, Head Of Legal and Compliance at Certas Energy

I will join them to explain more about how our non-profit initiative is helping counsel leverage their key role in the diverse areas where they have influence to ensure legitimate Net Zero is achieved.