Lawyers can derive numerous crucial insights from COP28. Our founder, Matt Gingell, and our Head of Engagement, Becky Annison, provide commentary on its implications for climate lawyers.
- COP28 brought about significant legislative change, necessitating extensive contractual drafting. It is important to anticipate and actively plan for this to limit disruption.
- This means keeping your contractual arrangements flexible; avoid committing to a fixed-term contract dependent on fossil fuels with no provision to terminate for a greener alternative.
- The pace of change means that there might be better options available well before that contract ends
- During COP28, youth advocacy overshadowed senior management advocacy, who hold the levers of change.
- Join a networking or advocacy group to maintain your education and upskilling on climate issues.
- Early stage career lawyers can join Legal Voices for the Future. If there isn’t a suitable group for your level of experience or jurisdiction then consider starting one.
Look for solutions
- As a lawyer, being commercially aware involves not just identifying barriers and risks but also suggesting solutions. The COP agreement, while a significant step, wasn’t fast enough to ensure a habitable world.
- In our daily practice, closing the gap involves incorporating climate contracting and adding a ‘climate risks’ section to all advice, making climate considerations mainstream.
Systems not silos
- Addressing climate change requires a systemic solution. For in-house lawyers, this involves engaging with all teams to gain a holistic view of how climate relates to the business and sharing the legal implications.
- In private practice, fostering awareness could include a firmwide sustainability day covering advised emissions, the impact of climate risk on your practice areas, and sharing resources to upskill the firm.
Power of business
- Businesses can move quickly, unlike the global political community. The more business shifts towards net zero, the more ambitious policies can be.
- Your organisation or major clients may already set net-zero targets surpassing COP28. They require legal support to achieve these targets.
- Have you checked your organisation/clients’ net-zero targets and inquired about legal assistance in reaching them?
Talking to doing
- Statements are laudable, but their delivery and application are crucial. Contracts remain the most practical tool for businesses to expedite decarbonisation across their value chains.
- A business with a net-zero target likely moves faster than COP28.
- What can lawyers do to assist businesses in closing that gap, focusing on contracting, due diligence, risk management, and providing general legal advice?