The Law Society has started a drive to make law firms more aware of the legal implications of carbon emissions and the effecs of global warming.
And it is encouraging law firms to consider the impact of their own carbon emissions.
It has commissioned a toolkit comprising a series of briefing notes developed by the Legal Sector Alliance [LSA], an inclusive movement of law firms and organisations acting on climate change, which it says will not only benefit the legal profession but also key client groups.
The notes were put together in conjunction with renewable energy consultancy Ecofys, with input from law firms including DLA Piper and Martineau.
It was launched last week, on the same day the European Commission published its White Paper on climate change adaptation.
The briefing notes highlight the likely legal and professional implications of failure to understand the importance of anticipating climatic changes.
The key issues from a legal perspective are whether enough is currently known, with a sufficient degree of certainty, to establish legal liability should there be a failure to act on climate change risks when dealing with current matters.
The objective of the adaptation briefing note is to prepare the profession for developments in climate science which will inform what can be considered reasonably foreseeable and help lawyers understand the impacts of climate change on their own businesses and key client groups.
Alongside a note to inform firms of the importance of considering the impacts of climate change in their own business continuity planning, notes will also be published over the coming weeks to inform transactional lawyers acting for clients in the property; energy and utilities; transport; local government; agriculture; finance and investment sectors.
Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: “The LSA is responding to emerging policy and science affecting the legal profession and its clients and is offering support with a series of practical tools. Climate change litigation alongside extreme weather events are likely to become more prevalent in the coming years. Solicitors need to be prepared to take the risks of climate change into consideration when advising clients. Those who do so quickly will be well placed to take advantage of the opportunities.”
Vanessa Havard-Williams, the chairwoman of the LSA’s Policy Working Group will be preparing a response to the EU White Paper. She said, “The LSA recognises the importance of addressing adaptation as well as mitigation in responding to the challenges of climate change. We are seeking to inform the legal profession of the relevance of new and emerging policy and best practice in this area, across a number of different sectors.
Working with Ecofys, our members have developed briefing notes outlining key adaptation issues for different sectors, relevant policy and legislation as well as case studies to highlight leading adaptation strategy.”