Cambridge University Press & Assessment (Cambridge) is a world-leader in assessment, education, research and academic publishing. Using The Chancery Lane Project’s (TCLP’s) clauses is one of the strategies Cambridge employs to tackle climate change within its industry. This case study shows how Cambridge uses TCLP resources to deliver its target of a 72% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.
What do TCLP’s clauses deliver for Cambridge?
Cambridge adapted [Owen’s Clause] Net Zero Target Supply Chain Cascade Clauses as a general long-form supplier clause. Cambridge has used this in approximately 20 contracts to date, including with some of its highest value suppliers of printing services globally.
Owen’s Clause requires that a business and its supplier work together to:
- Achieve the mutual aim of reducing carbon emissions.
- Create an ambitious net zero plan.
- Consider climate risks.
- Educate the workforce within the supply chain.
Cambridge amended Owen’s Clause in the following ways:
- Keeping a carbon reporting obligation but giving the supplier choice over the form of reporting. Cambridge finds that climate change data reporting is not currently carried out in a uniform way in the industry. By maintaining flexibility, Cambridge hopes that the process will refine and improve as the suppliers gain experience.
- Requiring suppliers to have a net zero policy and transition plan in place – but of their choosing, rather than building one together. This is less collaborative than the original Owen’s Clause, as Cambridge needed to take a more ‘hands-off’ approach whilst ensuring that its supply chain is made up of organisations that have demonstrated a commitment to decarbonisation. It also reflects that the onus is on the suppliers to ensure that their business takes ESG values into account.
Using Owen’s Clause serves as a springboard for the creation of new clauses, with Cambridge using TCLP content as inspiration to insert climate-linked obligations into different aspects of its business. For example, modifying Owen’s Clause for use in international freight and warehousing contracts. Cambridge is also currently developing a short-form version of the original supplier clause for use in its terms & conditions. Cambridge’s General Counsel (also the lead sponsor for sustainability matters at Cambridge) and the sustainability team have both been involved in the implementation and review process for the clauses.
Cambridge launched the clauses during the tendering process for its print suppliers for 2023 – 2026. These clauses were deemed acceptable in full to all but one supplier, who requested an amendment in relation to carbon credits.
Cambridge has also made climate clauses a standing item in its quarterly meeting agendas with suppliers. The adaptation of Owen’s Clause has therefore given legitimacy to climate contracts in the eyes of senior management, and ignited a firm-wide discussion on how ESG policies can be integrated directly into contracts.
Cambridge’s sustainability team is already looking to enhance the climate ambition of its clauses. The suppliers with whom it has used the clauses have accepted them with limited pushback, indicating that suppliers would be open to even more ambitious clauses. This has given Cambridge confidence to scale up the impact of its climate obligations, allowing it and its suppliers to adopt a more ambitious push for sustainability.
Cambridge’s clauses encourage suppliers to engage in sustainable practices, requiring them to have decarbonisation plans. It is hoped that after several years of use, the reporting requirements will provide Cambridge with data on the carbon footprint and decarbonisation progress of its suppliers. This will allow Cambridge to make more informed decisions on its supply chain in the long-term and creates an accountability mechanism for suppliers who fall short of their environmental pledges.
Cambridge is further extending its internal adaptation work. Colleagues at the organisation are being trained on how to adapt and insert TCLP clauses into agreements. This will inevitably lead to even greater adoption of climate clauses, and make climate contracting transparent and accessible to all members of the organisation.
- Adopting TCLP content is just the beginning: Cambridge started by adapting the wording of one of TCLP’s clauses for use in its printing contracts. Cambridge has since used its original clause as a template for creating new climate content in-house, assisted by its sustainability team and General Counsel. Cambridge has demonstrated that organisations can internally replicate TCLP’s own model: develop a template climate clause and adapt this to suit the particular needs of different contracts, industries and sectors.
- Business stakeholders are more enthusiastic about climate clauses than you think: Cambridge has shown in its recent tendering process that the clauses were adopted by all of its suppliers, with just one negotiated amendment. It has also been noted that the current clauses could go further in their climate ambition. The inclusion of climate clauses as a standing item in Cambridge’s quarterly meeting further suggests that internal stakeholders can and do take climate contracting seriously.
- Contracts are the mechanism for putting ESG aspirations into practice: The clauses successfully obliged Cambridge’s supply chain to carry out its business in an environmentally friendly manner. Its ambitions to expand this into its standard terms and conditions show that climate clauses are not niche, but rather can be incorporated into every contract. For those who are cautious, the journey into climate contracting often begins with the adoption of one fairly uncontroversial clause. If the reaction to this is positive, then this gives confidence to scale up climate obligations in line with ESG aspirations.