Legal sector pledge to cut CO2

23rd August 2011

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Some of the UK's largest law firms are to set themselves tough carbon reduction targets to encourage emissions cuts throughout the sector.

The Legal Sector Alliance (LSA), a group of law firms which have pledged to reduce their environmental impacts, has announced it will now require its members to “adopt and pursue challenging emissions reduction targets” alongside existing commitments to measure their carbon footprints.

The 20 executive members of the LSA, including Simmons & Simmons and Norton Rose, agreed to the extra requirement in a bid to drive continued improvement across the sector.

“LSA members have consistently taken a leadership position on climate change and we recognise that by publicly committing to carbon reduction targets we are continuing to drive change and real carbon reduction across the profession,” said LSA chair Sir Nigel Knowles.

“Meeting our climate change obligations will be increasingly challenging but our members recognise the increasing moral and business imperative for doing so.”

The news was welcomed by Law Society president John Wotton who revealed that pressure from clients in recent years has helped to change attitudes towards improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.

“Just a few years ago, the idea that law firms would regularly report on their carbon footprint seemed far-fetched. However, now that climate change is firmly on the business agenda, this kind of data is being demanded by an increasing number of clients as evidence that industry is taking this issue seriously,” he said.

“By measuring and managing their carbon footprints on a regular basis firms can achieve ongoing carbon reduction in the long term.”

With 215 members, the LSA represents more than 30% of solicitors in England and Wales. Each of the member organisations calculates their carbon footprint using the LSA’s measuring tool, the carbon protocol, which was developed with the Carbon Trust and is verified by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management.

Under the new requirement, member firms are expected to adopt targets and publish their performance against them each year when reporting under the protocol.

Steve McNabb, who leads on environment practice at Simmons & Simmons, took part in a recent environmentalist/WSP roundtable on greenhouse-gas reporting and revealed the firm was in favour of mandatory reporting for all large organisations, but warned “some organisations will need a lot more training in how to monitor and measure their emissions”.


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