Green execution protocols which parties adopt at the start of a transaction to minimise the carbon footprint of deal execution.Skip to clause
Why use this?
The transaction parties would commit at an early stage to adhere to the protocols. These could be adopted either within the binding Heads of Terms framework to ensure compliance or softer guidance such as within an RFP.
Carve outs would be considered and provided on a case by case basis to allow for deal flexibility, particularly in jurisdictions where options might be limited.
As the protocol becomes established some of the drafting could be condensed into principles to avoid repetition. For example, a link to a website could be given containing all the protocols. However, the detail and breaking down into the component stages provides the granularity for awareness and impact.
How it promotes a net zero future
Adherence to all or some of the protocol(s) would reduce paper consumption, unnecessary business travel and other environmentally unfriendly practices and reduce overall GHG emissions. It would also raise awareness among the transaction parties, third parties, and potential investors of climate unfriendly practices in the business world.
Raising the protocols at the start of a transaction (i.e. in the ‘Heads of Terms’ or ‘Request For Pitch’ (RFP)) stage would focus the parties’ minds on the environmental impact of their business practices. Transaction guidelines on how the parties interact are often included in binding contractual documentation and these protocols would form part of them.
Additional benefits arising from adherence to these protocols are lowering transaction costs and minimising travel time, thereby increasing business productivity. These additional benefits should incentivise use of these protocols and accelerate their climate impact.
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[TO BE ADDED TO INITIAL TRANSACTION PROCESS DOCUMENT E.G., HEADS OF TERMS, RFP ETC]
Green Transaction Protocols
1. Green General Principles
1.1 The parties agree to use their reasonable endeavours:
(a) To conduct the transaction in the most environmentally conscious manner possible, with a principal aim of reducing to the fullest extent possible the carbon emissions that arise as a consequence of the transaction process. The transaction process must be structured so as not to increase or amplify the impact of climate change or the carbon emissions of the Parties;
(b) To reduce the use of paper-based documentation and correspondence where electronic versions offer a viable alternative. Where printing is strictly required, recycled and sustainably sourced paper must be used;
(c) To reduce data consumption (including in the manner contemplated by Protocol 6 (Electronic Communications & Data Storage));
(d) To reduce travel and conduct diligence and all meetings remotely, as far as practicable;
(e) To reduce the use of single-use plastics and recycle all materials used; and
(f) To require that all third parties and advisers engaged during the course of the transaction be mindful of, and adhere to, these Green General Principles and the Green Transaction Protocols to which the Parties have subscribed.
1.2 Exceptions to these principles are subject to prior approval by [x]. Where exceptions are justified and permitted, material carbon emissions (for example, business travel or document printing) are to be calculated using Carbon Footprint Standards and offset at the end of the transaction by [the Parties][the incurring Party] within [6 months] after the end of the transaction. Any offsetting shall be in accordance with The Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting. For the purposes of this paragraph 1.2, Carbon Footprint Standards means internationally recognised standards to measure, manage and demonstrate carbon credentials covering:
(i) organisations (including but not limited to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Voluntary Environmental Reporting Guidelines and the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard);
(ii) projects, product and services (including but not limited to PAS 2050:2011, ISO 14001 and the GHG Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard); and
(iii) events (including but not limited to PAS2060/ISO 20121).
2.1 The Parties agree to correspond internally, with each other and with third parties in relation to the transaction by way of electronic communication only, and not to print copies of electronic communications relating to the transaction unnecessarily. The Parties agree to require the same standards of all third parties where possible.
2.2 The Parties agree not to request hard copy documents from each other or third parties unnecessarily.
2.3 The Parties should share or agree on the following at the inception of the transaction:
(a) the relevant email addresses to which all email communications between the parties and all relevant third parties are to be sent if not using a shared platform for all communications;
(b) the maximum size of file accepted (for example, 15MB) and that documents should be compressed or zipped where possible to reduce data storage carbon costs; and
(c) the platform agreed by the parties for the sharing of larger documents, if documents exceed the maximum accepted file size.
2.4 Where an exception is approved in accordance with paragraph 1.2 above, the Parties agree that written correspondence which cannot be delivered electronically must be printed double-sided and two sheets to a page wherever possible, and/or in A5 format. All printed correspondence must be delivered in the most environmentally friendly manner that is reasonably possible; non-recyclable binding materials, envelopes and packaging are not permitted. Once no longer needed, hard copy correspondence must be recycled in a secure and confidential manner, wherever possible.
3.1 The Parties must avoid printing any documents, wherever possible. Electronic delivery systems (e.g. data rooms, document sharing platforms and screen sharing) should be used to provide access to the Parties and third parties (for example, investors and creditors). E-bibles should be used at the close of the transaction.
3.2 When compiling materials for internal preparation and analysis purposes, the parties must use electronic means, wherever possible.
3.3 Where hard copies are required or unavoidable, the Parties must print double-sided and two sheets to a page wherever possible and/or in A5 format on recycled, recyclable or sustainably sourced paper. If these documents need updating, parties should amend existing bundles instead of recreating them.
3.4 Once no longer needed, hard copy documentation must be recycled in a secure and confidential manner, wherever possible.
3.5 Non-recyclable document binding materials (for example, glossy plastic presentation covers, plastic spiral binders etc.) should not be used.
3.6 Where it is necessary to deliver hard copy documentation, where possible and as agreed by the Parties, these should be sent by non-motorised transport (for example, cycle courier) or sent in electronic format to a local print agency who can deliver to the intended recipient.
3.7 As regards electronic documents, the Parties agree that these should be made searchable, to facilitate electronic mark-ups and reduce printing.
3.8 Subject to local law requirements, the Parties agree that electronic signatures and remote signing procedures should be used to sign documents and enter into transaction documents. In particular, the Parties agree to sign transaction documents in counterpart to avoid unnecessary printing, couriering or in-person signing where travel may be required.
3.9 Where possible, the Parties agree that the transaction original documents and signature pages must be in electronic format to avoid unnecessary printing, couriering, storage and recycling.
3.10 Where it is necessary to physically sign hard copy documents, the Parties will avoid the use of disposable plastic pens and must instead use a reusable fountain pen, manufactured locally where possible, for any required physical signing, and will fill those pens with waterproof ink from recyclable bottles so as to avoid plastic waste from ink cartridges.
4. Diligence, Data Rooms and Site Visits
4.1 Due diligence materials must be made available via virtual data rooms, wherever possible, to reduce travel and paper waste. The Parties also agree not to upload extraneous documents to virtual data rooms, wherever possible, and not to download documents where they can be evaluated in situ on the virtual data room.
4.2 Where physical diligence or site visits are strictly required, see section 5.
5.1 Meetings between the Parties and their respective experts and advisers, and between the Parties’ experts and advisers (including roadshows, site visits and closing ceremonies), must be held remotely, where practicable. Where not practicable, meetings must be arranged in an environmentally conscious manner.
5.2 In exceptional cases where travelling is necessary, the Parties must endeavour to travel in the most environmentally friendly manner that is reasonably possible (for example, using public transport or hybrid and electric vehicles, wherever possible).
5.3 Where travel is required, the relevant Party must account for and offset any associated carbon emissions.
5.4 Parties must minimise unnecessary travel both within their own team and within their advisory and counsel team and, where it is necessary to travel, to do so using the minimum number of trips. Where a taxi journey is necessary, employees should pool or share cars, wherever possible.
6. Electronic Communications & Data Storage
The Parties recognise the carbon footprint of electronic communications; for example, the energy used for data storage by data centres. Therefore, to minimise the impact, the Parties agree to the extent reasonably practicable to:
(a) Check draft emails before sending them to ensure they contain the necessary and correct information to avoid the need for follow-up emails;
(b) Avoid replying all. Replies should be required and sent only to the original sender rather than to all distribution lists of the Parties;
(c) Send attachments only where necessary and in PDF rather than Powerpoint or other format; and
(d) Regularly clean and maintain mailing lists.
7. Deal memorabilia
The Parties agree to avoid the practice of producing and distributing deal memorabilia (toys, tombstones, etc.), and will, as an alternative way of commemorating a completed deal, consider making charitable donations to environmental charities (for example, planting a tree) or environmental initiatives. Where for relevant cultural reasons some form of memorabilia is deemed necessary, any products commissioned will only be produced from recycled or sustainably sourced materials, and distribution methods will be managed in an environmentally conscious manner.
Glossary references: Carbon Footprint Standards