They’re all at it. Last month I inveighed against my local building society’s campaign for its customers to supply their account details to a third party so that they can view and reduce the carbon footprint of their spending. This month, it’s the Law Society telling me how in-house lawyers “can fight the climate crisis”.

There was a time when the Law Society saw its role as promoting and regulating the interests of solicitors. The regulatory role was taken away from them some time ago and given to the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, so solicitors might have hoped that the Law Society would make a bit more of an effort to look after its members. But no, it seems its role these days is to hector and promote the cause du jour. We are told:

In-house lawyers are key to shaping green initiatives within their organisations. To mark the approach of Pro Bono Week 2022 and COP27, Lawyers for Net Zero and the Chancery Lane Project share practical ways in-house legal teams can effect positive change against the climate crisis.

I spent most of my career as an in-house solicitor, and I (and, I’m sure, my employers) would have regarded it as profoundly wrong for me and my colleagues to agitate for our companies to adopt any political objective. Our job (and our professional obligation) was to act in the best interests of our client/employer (and its shareholders), whilst upholding professional standards, and complying with the rules and regulations set down by our professional body.

Now in-house lawyers and their teams are urged “…to help ensure their organisation’s good intentions are turned into meaningful and rapid climate change action.” In-house lawyers, we are told, “…have a rare, holistic view of the company and access to a wide network of senior leaders. This gives them the ideal platform to have real influence within their organisation.” Furthermore:

Assessing risk is an essential part of an in-house lawyers’ role. The climate crisis is the biggest risk that businesses – and society – have ever faced, and in-house lawyers are perfectly placed to highlight the risks and opportunities that net zero presents.

At this stage, I have read only the opening four paragraphs of an article titled “Practical ways in-house lawyers can fight the climate crisis”, and I have already spotted my professional body asserting as fact a number of political opinions. First is the assumption that we are suffering from a “climate crisis”. Second is the assumption that in-house lawyers (inevitably just those in England and Wales, at that, since they are the ones “represented” by the Law Society of England & Wales) can effect positive change against the alleged crisis. Thirdly, we are told that the “climate crisis” is the biggest risk that society and businesses have ever faced. I assume that two world wars, the Black Death and much else were just minor inconveniences. It is assumed that “green initiatives” and addressing the “climate crisis” are one and the same thing (some of us are deeply concerned that policies driven by advocates of climate change action are the antithesis of “green”). Finally, we are told – and it is implicit that this is a good and necessary thing – that in-house lawyers can help ensure that their employers take “meaningful and rapid climate change action”.

Lawyers for Net Zero

Next we are introduced, with great enthusiasm, to Lawyers for Net Zero. A cynic might think that they drafted the Law Society article, given that their website says things like:

The inspiration behind Lawyers for Net Zero was the recognition that there is a massive, but largely unrecognised, opportunity for in-house lawyers to be a critical interface, who can support their organisation to deliver significant and rapid climate action.

Sound familiar?

Their website introduces us to the Campaign for Greener Arbitrations (“Driving sustainable change in arbitration”); Legal Sustainability Alliance (“Time is running out to solve the Climate Crisis”); the Global Alliance of Impact Lawyers (“Connect, Learn, Lead”); ClientEarth (“We use the power of the law to protect all life on Earth, combining thousands of individual voices into one powerful force for change”); and Net Zero Lawyers Alliance (“Mobilising commercial law firms and lawyers to accelerate the transition to net zero”).

They also link with another organisation who are pushed at us by the Law Society article:

The Chancery Lane Project

Its website offers up for use 120 model clauses, 54 glossary entries and 8 tools. They are sponsored and supported by Climateworks Foundation; Laudes Foundation; Quadrature Climate Foundation; Generation Foundation; and the Centre For Innovation In Voluntary Action.

I can’t be bothered to analyse all their websites, and will leave it to you to if you are so motivated. For now, it’s enough that we begin to gain an insight into just how many of these organisations exist and how deeply interlinked (and influential) they all are.

Returning to the Chancery Lane Project, the Law Society is keen to push its “green” lease clauses at us. In principle I could fairly readily be on board with this:

To achieve a property’s green potential – and to enjoy the associated benefits of lower running costs, a more comfortable working or living environment and a more marketable asset – parties to a lease should include green obligations, to ensure that their building is used sustainably.

However, as so often, the devil is in the detail. After a quick look at some of the clauses I am not so enthusiastic after all. First, there is Aatmay’s Clause (“Sustainable and Circular Economy Principles in Leasing Arrangements for Repairs and Alterations”). It sounds reasonable enough, put like that, but a reading of the clause gives pause for thought. Before you even get into the meat of it, its recitals require both landlord and tenant to have signed up to the Race To Zero ; to have a common intention to “achieve their respective organisational net zero targets”; to “align with the objectives of the Paris Agreement (in particular pursuing efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and achieving net zero or net negative emissions by 2050 or sooner)”; and to do so in a manner that promotes “a just transition to a low carbon economy and results in at least a 7% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions year on year.

Having been retired for some time, perhaps I am hopelessly out of touch. However, I regard a clause like that (and that’s before even looking at the operative parts of the clause) as massively onerous on both parties, and could render both the freehold and leasehold interests less valuable and less marketable. (But note the spin encouraging use of the clause, claiming that it will help to create a “more marketable asset”!). I won’t delve into the details of the clause as it’s lengthy and technical, but if you’re interested, the embedded link above will allow you to take a look. Suffice it to say that the defined terms include “Adverse Climate Effect”; “Efficiency Objective”; “Efficiency Standard”; “Embedded Carbon”; “GHG Emissions”; “Greenhouse Gases”; “Net Zero Target”; “Offset” and much more. You get the idea.

Next there’s Hannah’s Clause. This “allows owners to include the costs of improving the environmental performance of leased buildings in the service charge costs (where such works are not otherwise required by statute)”. Service charges are often a major bone of contention between landlords and tenants, with tenants regularly complaining that they are too open-ended and allow landlords to impose costs on them in an uncontrolled way. Quite why anyone, least of all the Law Society or solicitors acting for a tenant, would think it’s a good idea to add to the costs the landlord can load on to a tenant via the service charge is beyond me. In answer to the question “why use this?”, the answer offered up is:

Hannah’s Clause helps landlords to: (i) address investor concerns about climate risk and compliance with environmental legislation (e.g. Energy Efficiency Regulations); (ii) respond to tenant demand for efficient, healthy and green buildings; (iii) enjoy increased profitability through higher property values and return on investment; (iv) pass cost savings to tenants; and (v) incentivise tenants to use the property efficiently.

However, you need look no further than some of the terms contained in the additional definitions accompanying the clause to see how this could come back to bite an unwary tenant – “Adverse Climate Effect”; “Carbon Dioxide Equivalent”; “Embedded Carbon”; “Environmental Performance”; “Finite Power Source” (“means a power source which is reliant on Hydrocarbons”); “Green Infrastructure”; “Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)”; “GHG Emissions”; “Hydrocarbons” (“means a class of organic chemical compounds predominantly consisting of hydrogen and carbon and which includes fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas”); “Renewable Energy Sources” (“means naturally replenishing non-fossil sources of energy, including but not limited to hydropower and tidal power, hydrothermal power, aerothermal power and geothermal power, wind and solar”). [Drafting note: Consider specifically excluding nuclear and regenerative biomasses (wood, municipal waste, biomass and landfill gas, ethanol, biodiesel) so as to limit to truly naturally replenishing sources and avoid sources generated by incineration which has significant GHG output and contributes to other forms of small particulate air pollution.]; “Sustainable Procurement”; and “Waste Management Plan”.

I’m sure you get the picture. Again, that’s just the definitions – the clause itself is too long and technical for the scope of this article. A single clause that is almost as long as some old leases, and which imposes considerable costs on the tenant at the say so of the landlord, isn’t necessarily a good thing to encourage your tenant client to sign up to. Yet the spin put on it (above) talks about responding to tenant demand, passing cost savings to tenants, and “incentivising” tenants to use the property efficiently. Yeah, right. It sounds like the sort of “incentive” – hitting them in the pocket – that will see people in their millions turning the central heating down – or off altogether – this winter.

Next is Lotta’s Clause. We are told:

The clause raises renewable energy at the outset of commercial relations and in lease negotiations between landlord and tenant. As an operative provision of a lease, Lotta’s Clause delivers real impact by reducing the carbon footprint of the parties and the adverse environmental impact of leased buildings in landlord portfolios.

Well, a lot depends on whether it really is possible for a building, at this moment in time to be serviced entirely by “renewable” energy. Of course, it can’t. The electricity coming out of a plug in one of these buildings is the same as the electricity coming out of the plugs in my house And so one of the new definitions we see as part of this clause is one for a “REGO Certificate”, being a certificate of “Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin”.

There’s more, but I’ll stop there, to prevent eyes glazing over any more than necessary.

Conclusions

I’m sure that the lawyers involved in these organisations, and the people at the Law Society, are acting with the best of intentions. They presumably sincerely believe all this stuff. However, it seems to me that some of the justifications for urging this behaviour on in-house lawyers involves massive spin and in some cases turning reality on its head. I am absolutely convinced that leases containing these clauses will be less valuable and less marketable than those without them. Of course, it could be that the point will arrive when legislation ramming net zero down our throats means that the opposite will be the case. However, that will be down to politics, and I firmly believe that it is not the Law Society’s place to be urging this behaviour on its members.

The other point to note is how it is now taken as read, without even so much as a modicum of intellectual curiosity regarding the allegation, that the “climate crisis is the biggest risk that businesses – and society – have ever faced”. The Law Society states it as fact. Its members are supposed to accept it without question. This view is deeply embedded in the establishment. It is going to take some shifting. Possibly only a Brexit-style revolt by the long-suffering public fed up of the negative impact on their lives of net zero will achieve a reappraisal. And even then, as with Brexit, the establishment won’t readily accept defeat. As I have mentioned before, in the western world generally, and in the UK in particular, we are subject to net zero democracy.

12 Comments

  1. Mark, reading your post causes me to experience the ground moving beneath my feet. Even though this advice does not apparently affect me directly, I wonder just how much of my world is changing as a result of Net Zero machinations and probably not to my benefit.

    Like

  2. Alan,

    Thanks for the observation. I worried (possibly rightly!) that the article was overly technical, banging on as I did about “green” lease clauses. However, the crucial point is really that climate alarmism is now not just deeply embedded in all areas of the establishment (though it is) but rather that it goes beyond that. The establishment is determined to campaign to embed its “green” values in society, and is doing so both directly and indirectly, basically in any and every way that it can. The fact that the Law Society can quite openly state as a fact that “the climate crisis” is the greatest crisis ever, can assume that all its members and readers of its magazine will be 100% on board with that, and can urge membership of campaigning organisations, and use of documentation that embeds its quasi-religious beliefs in the legal documents innocently used by solicitors’ clients, is to my mind extremely worrying. And if it’s going on in the Law Society, I think we can safely assume that there will be similar movements and beliefs in all other professions and occupations – medical, architects, teachers, university lecturers, etc, etc. There are zealots within these occupations and professions, but the key issue now is that the zealots are embedded in the professional bodies, who can (and do) use their position to influence the behaviour of others.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. wonder how this madness started _https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/part/1
    “Changes to legislation:Climate Change Act 2008, Section 1 is up to date with all changes known to be in force on or before 24 October 2022. There are changes that may be brought into force at a future date. Changes that have been made appear in the content and are referenced with annotations. Help about Changes to Legislation
    View outstanding changesstatus warnings
    1The target for 2050
    (1)It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least [F1100%] lower than the 1990 baseline.
    (2)“The 1990 baseline” means the aggregate amount of—
    (a)net UK emissions of carbon dioxide for that year, and
    (b)net UK emissions of each of the other targeted greenhouse gases for the year that is the base year for that gas.”

    can’t be bothered to read further – what a “gas”

    Like

  4. I did mention that if the Law Society is doing this sort of thing, then RIBA (for architects) was likely to be doing it too…

    “Take your practice to net zero with the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge
    The RIBA has published an updated version of its 2030 Climate Challenge, alongside a ‘Client Guide’ and tips on ‘How to talk to Clients’”

    https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/knowledge-landing-page/take-your-practice-to-net-zero-with-the-riba-2030-climate-challenge#

    Like

  5. I’m sure that the lawyers involved in these organisations, and the people at the Law Society, are acting with the best of intentions

    I’m sure you’re right. But I’m sure those who burned witches in the 17th century acted with the best of intentions too. They didn’t just do it on a whim. There was a complex theory, backed up by peer reviewed theological texts, to support them. And the King was a big supporter too, and had even written an influential text on the subject.

    Oh dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Law Society is at it again. Today’s email, with its “professional update”, includes this:

    “Creating a climate-conscious approach to legal practice”

    https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/climate-change/creating-a-climate-conscious-approach-to-legal-practice

    There’s never been a better time for the legal profession to take the lead in the race to net zero. We’ve published a climate change resolution outlining the role solicitors can play in addressing the climate crisis.

    We’re committed to taking action and we want you to stand with us.

    We’ve published a climate change resolution to support solicitors and the companies or firms they work for, to develop a climate-conscious approach to legal practice.

    There’s more (much more):

    The resolution consists of:

    our commitment to taking action by adopting science-based targets for our own business operations, and providing the profession with guidance on how to take climate change into consideration when providing legal services (sections 1-2)
    a call to action for law firms and solicitors (sections 3-5)

    Then:

    Why we need to act
    The climate crisis is the greatest perceivable threat facing modern humanity.

    The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed in its Sixth Assessment Report that the deadly impacts of human-induced climate change are already occurring.

    It outlines that climate change will have devastating global consequences if rapid and far-reaching changes are not made to limit warming to 1.5°C.

    The IPCC has advised that in order to maintain a 1.5°C temperature limit, “global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030; reaching net zero around 2050”.

    The International Energy Agency has also advised that new coal, oil and gas investments should end by 2021 [perhaps they haven’t noticed that it’s now late 2022] in order to meet such targets.

    Solicitors, through advocacy or daily practice can be part of the change needed to tackle the climate crisis and provide a safe environment for future generations.

    Greatest perceivable threat? With the situation in Korea kicking off; the Russia-Ukraine conflict threatening to degenerate, including Putin’s muttering about nuclear weapons; a worldwide energy crisis; a cost of living crisis; a two-year recession predicted by the Bank of England, to name just a few ongoing issues. In my day lawyers were taught to weight up the evidence and to think for themselves. No more, it seems.

    What about that “climate change resolution”? Here it is:

    Noting that in 2016 the United Kingdom ratified the Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to hold the increase in global warming to “well below 2°C”, and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels;

    Mindful that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed in its 2021 Sixth Assessment Report that “unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach”;

    Acknowledging the essential role of the legal profession in strengthening and upholding the rule of law, human rights and access to justice which are vital for society as a whole, including for advancing efforts which mitigate the climate crisis and strengthen climate justice;

    Acknowledging that solicitors have played a crucial role historically in fundamental positive societal changes and can lead in mitigating the climate crisis to avert its worst effects, including by supporting their clients and (for in-house solicitors) their employers in doing so; and

    Noting the International Bar Association’s Climate Crisis Statement made on the 5th of May 2020:
    The Law Society of England and Wales:

    1.Resolves to develop plans and take rapid action, in a manner which is consistent with restricting global warming to 1.5°C, by adopting science-based targets.

    2.Resolves to:
    (a)support solicitors to be fully informed on how they might act to mitigate the climate crisis;
    (b)provide guidance to solicitors on how, when approaching any matter arising in the course of legal practice, to take into account the likely impact of that matter upon the climate crisis in a way which is compatible with their professional duties and the administration of justice;
    (c)develop, disseminate and publicise educational tools and resources to support solicitors to incorporate into their daily practice advice on the impacts of climate change, and prepare for the likely impacts of climate change upon their daily practice in line with paragraphs 3 and 4 below;
    (d)engage with current and future climate change-related legislative, regulatory and policy reform so far as it impacts on the practice of law, access to justice and the rule of law;
    (e)influence the regime governing legal training and education on issues pertaining to climate change;
    (f)collaborate actively with others for the greatest impact in addressing the climate crisis, including clients, regulators, bar associations, other professional bodies and legal networks focused on ameliorating the climate crisis; and
    (g)report on the steps taken to meet these commitments and the outcomes of such steps and share its learning with the solicitors’ profession.

    3.Urges solicitors, always in a way which is compatible with their professional duties and the administration of justice, to engage in climate conscious legal practice by:
    (a)continuing legal education on matters pertaining to climate change, in recognition of the pervasive impact of climate change on society and legal practice;
    (b)approaching any matter arising in the course of legal practice with regard to the likely impact of that matter upon the climate crisis;
    (c)providing (whether themselves or through others) competent advice to their clients on(i)how they can achieve their objectives in ways which mitigate the effects of the climate crisis and promote adaptation to climate change; and (ii) the potential legal risks and liabilities that may arise from action or inaction that negatively contributes to the climate crisis; and
    (d)advising clients, where applicable, about the benefits of disclosure of climate-related risks and opportunities related to their entire business operation (including supply chains) when reporting to regulators, investors, and stakeholders and on the assessment, monitoring, management, mitigation and reporting on such risks.

    4.Urges law firms and organisations that support the legal industry to operate in a way which restricts the increase in global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to above 1.5°C pre-industrial levels by:
    (a)adopting science-based targets to reduce the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with daily legal practice;
    (b)adopting practical measures to reduce the environmental impact of their business and policies which mitigate their contribution to the climate crisis through the provision of legal services; and
    (c)reporting publicly on the steps taken to meet these commitments and the outcomes of such steps.

    5.Encourages solicitors, law firms and organisations that support the legal industry to take a holistic and proactive approach to mitigating the climate crisis and promoting climate change adaptation by taking action which includes:
    (a)developing well-supported career paths for lawyers who wish to transition into distinct disciplines related to climate change or enhance their practice area by focusing on ways in which that practice can advance net-zero targets, such as clean energy, green real estate, ESG, sustainable finance law and similar climate related aspects;
    (b)engaging in pro bono activities which support this objective;
    (c)engaging in climate change dispute resolution on a basis which ensures affordable access to justice for those negatively affected by the climate crisis, considering the clients’ resources; and
    (d)engaging with current and future legislative and policymaking efforts to mitigate the climate crisis and protect the human rights of those most affected by it and promoting the development and application of legal rules, transparency requirements and policies in a manner that is consistent with climate change mitigation and the climate commitments under international treaties and domestic law.

    Wow. I’m ever more glad that I’m retired.

    Like

  7. It seems that it’s not just lawyers:

    “Why is the Architects Registration Board Insisting on Fealty to Climate Change Orthodoxy as a Condition of Qualifying as an Architect?”

    https://dailysceptic.org/2022/11/17/why-is-the-architects-registration-board-insisting-on-fealty-to-climate-change-orthodoxy-as-a-condition-of-qualifying-as-an-architect/

    …The ARB is unapologetically interfering in university education and legitimising its interventionist actions on the basis that there has been an extensive ‘consultation’. The consultations, of course, have predominantly been engaged in by interest groups that have mobilised to control the parameters of the narrative in their favour. On the issue of dealing with sustainability, for instance, the consultation has resulted in a national policy that says ‘Environmental Sustainability’ must now be included at every level of an Architecture undergraduate, postgraduate and professional diploma education.

    Architecture students must be taught, inter alia:

    • The principles of climate science
    • The importance of advocating for sustainable or regenerative design solutions
    • The relationship between social sustainability, social justice and environmental sustainability
    • How to design to preserve, integrate and enhance natural habitats which encourage biodiversity and support access to green infrastructure space for communities
    • Appropriate renewable technologies
    • The use of onsite renewable energy generation or further offsetting, to achieve decarbonisation

    If you have not been taught these matters – and if you cannot demonstrate that you have learned these environmental rules – then you will be refused access to the Register of Architects. In other words, you will not be allowed to qualify as an architect. In effect, students will be compelled to repeat a mantra in order to pass. There may be ways of pretending to jump through these ARB hoops, but its environmental criteria will still be the frame of reference…

    Like

  8. Some more lawyerly planet-saving in my email inbox today.

    First, in the form of a “professional update” from the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority:

    “What are the benefits of smart meters for solicitors?”

    You may have heard that installing a smart meter can give your practice a boost, but how exactly? Smart Energy GB, a working with partner of the Law Society, details four key areas where smart meters can really make a difference…

    …With multiple contracts to read and clients to meet with, it’s no wonder time is so precious to solicitors.

    That’s where smart meters come in: they can help your practice to save time.

    An initial short installation can provide long term time-saving benefits.

    For instance, with a smart meter you won’t have to be in the office to let someone in to read the meter, or rummage around in the back of a stationery cupboard to record and submit a reading…

    …Getting a smart meter installed in your practice could give you transparency on your energy usage.

    Depending on your supplier, you could get an in-home display (IHD) or an app which shows you how much energy your practice is using, in pounds and pence, every day, week and month…

    …A smart meter can put you back in control, meaning you can say goodbye to estimated energy bills.

    Accurate energy bills cause less disruption to your cash flow forecasting, meaning you can be certain you know what you’ve got coming in and going out each month. Your accountant will be forever grateful….

    …Your practice isn’t the only beneficiary of a smart meter, as the benefits expand far beyond your office walls.

    Smart meters can help Great Britain reach our net zero targets. To achieve net zero, we need to reduce the greenhouse gases we emit. This means using fewer fossil fuels to generate energy and replacing them with more renewable energy.

    That’s where the smart energy system, enabled by smart meters comes in – helping us to make the most of renewable energy such as solar or wind.

    But what is a smart energy system? It is an energy system that uses modern digital technology to understand when customers across Great Britain use energy, as well as how much they use.

    Smart meter data can also enable the smart energy system to:

    identify and respond to power outages quicker
    better balance supply with demand, which can help reduce energy wastage
    use more sources of renewable energy
    By getting a smart meter in your practice, you’ll be playing a key part to make our energy system smarter….

    I find it more than a little worrying that my professional regulator doesn’t have a problem in writing this sort of stuff.

    Secondly, from the Oxford Law Faculty:

    “Rising to sustainability challenges: building the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme”

    In September 2022, the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme will launch its Climate Litigation Lab, a new initiative leveraging multidisciplinary research to inform climate change litigation efforts around
    the world.
    The Lab will bring together scientists, scholars, and practitioners from a range of disciplines to address
    practical challenges presented by climate litigation across the globe.
    It will interface with climate litigation practitioners and stakeholders to understand the strategic and
    evidentiary landscape informing climate litigation efforts in various jurisdictions and conduct research across the natural, social, and legal sciences to help enable just and effective legal outcomes at scale.

    And quite a lot more in similar vein, including this:

    The report found that policies and planning are growing for climate change adaptation, financing and implementation are still far behind where they need to be. The report also finds that we are
    missing the opportunity to use the fiscal recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to prioritize green economic growth, that also helps nations adapt to climate impacts such as floods, droughts, storms, and wildfires.

    Like

  9. The Law Society is still at it. This week’s edition of the Law Society Gazette features on its front page a mock-up of a polar bear on what looks like an ice cube, with the headline “Melting Point”, and beneath it the words “What can lawyers do to help prevent climate catastrophe?”.

    https://edition.pagesuite.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx

    Their timing is a little unfortunate – a “melting point” headline while Britain freezes. From page 20 onwards there is a 4 page article which concludes with the words “The Law Society will publish professional conduct guidance on matters related to climate change in early 2023”.

    Think of that for a moment. I wait with a mixture of trepidation and disbelief to discover whether the Law Society will seek to impose a professional obligation on solicitors to “deal with” climate change!

    Like

  10. It’s relentless. This week’s email from the Law Society includes a section called “Take action against climate change”. Click the link and it takes you here:

    https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/climate-change/legal-voices-for-the-future

    Legal Voices for the Future is an initiative that aims to encourage discourse and action on the most pressing issue facing us: climate change.

    …Our objective is to give voice to a new generation of lawyers on the most pressing issue facing us: the climate and ecological crisis.

    We propose to do so by holding monthly knowledge sessions open to everyone – lawyers and non-lawyers alike. In order to bring fresh perspective and encourage innovation on pressing global issues such as climate change, each session is led by a different member.

    The forum is an inclusive and safe space allowing for collaboration and collective learning without professing expertise.

    We want to empower our members to use the law as a force for positive change and to collaborate on solutions to climate change and related societal injustices….

    As junior lawyers, we see a pressing need for environmental and ethical issues such as climate change, just transition and biodiversity destruction to be brought to the attention of the legal profession.

    Clients often rely on lawyers to address both current risks and risks they are likely to face in the future. We can expect to come across an increasing range of legal issues that call for greater climate consciousness.

    However, the compulsory curriculum for legal education in England and Wales does not require law students to take courses on climate change, environmental law or biodiversity, nor have these issues yet properly permeated mainstream legal practice. The same is true of the BPTC and LPC.

    As a result, many aspiring and practicing lawyers lack a proper understanding of these urgent issues. This is not only to the detriment of the profession, but equally to that of society.

    Given the legal duty that lawyers have to advise their clients and act in their best interests, the role of the entire legal profession in the context of wider societal shifts towards decarbonisation and a green transition cannot be understated….

    Like

  11. Thanks to another email today from the Law Society, I have just realised that an entire section of the Law Society website is devoted to climate change:

    https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/climate-change/

    You can tell that I haven’t been paying sufficient attention, due to the fact that I am (thankfully) retired from legal practice.

    It is sub-headed “Guidance and resources on sustainability, legal risks, legal updates and political developments, as you prepare for the impact of climate change on your daily practice” and includes things like a film complete with dramatic music, because “In 2021, we asked experts to predict what life will be like in 2050. The remarkable findings were published in a report called Future Worlds 2050. This film, the first in a series, focuses on the climate crisis.”

    It wouldn’t look out of place at the Guardian. However, the link in today’s email was to this:

    “Green leases and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards”

    https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/climate-change/green-leases-and-minimum-energy-efficiency-standards

    ‘Green lease drafting’ is drafting that provides for the landlord and the tenant to undertake specific responsibilities and obligations to minimise carbon emissions arising from the sustainable development, operation and occupation of a property.

    Examples include:

    energy efficiency measures, including obtaining and/or maintaining an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
    data sharing – including, for example, utilities consumption
    waste reduction and management and recycling
    using sustainable materials for repairs and alterations
    water efficiency
    measures to comply with statutory environmental standards and/or achieve target certifications such as MEES and Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM)
    consideration of wider adverse climate impacts

    In fairness to the Law Society, solicitors do need to know about ongoing developments so as to be able to advise their clients. The ongoing (and eve-increasing) requirements scare me, as does the Law Society’s quasi-religious zeal for pushing the climate change narrative way beyond what is necessary to enable solicitors to keep up with the red tape spewing out of Parliament:

    Disclosure standards
    ESG disclosure standards, including the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TFCD) recommendations, are the most prominent global set of climate-related risk disclosures that have been incorporated into many public bodies as well as regulator policies, including the Bank of England.

    Further disclosure standards are also being finalised by the International Sustainability Standards Boards which provide sustainability disclosure standards for financial reporting globally, including specifically on real estate.

    The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (consultation paper) implementation timeline is 30 June 2023 to 30 June 2026.

    Once implemented, the FCA will require real economy companies, including insurers, and asset managers and asset owners to report on their sustainability risks, opportunities and impacts.

    Regulation in this area will likely increase.

    I don’t doubt that last point for one moment. There’s more:

    MEES and duty of care to advise on related risk
    In many cases the biggest impetus to introduce green provisions to leases is the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).

    The legislation to create the MEES came into force on 1 April 2018. At the time of writing, the effect of the legislation currently is that:

    if the energy performance certificate or EPC rating a property is termed ‘sub-standard’ (a rating of F or G), then
    the grant of a new lease or the extension or renewal of an existing lease of that property is unlawful and carries the potential of penalties for the landlord, unless
    a valid exemption has been registered
    From 1 April 2023, this rating requirement (of a minimum lawful EPC rating of E) applies not only for the grant, renewal or extension of leases of commercial property but also for the continuation of any existing lease or tenancy of a commercial property.

    In each case, where the property has an EPC rating lower rating than E, the landlord will be liable to a penalty unless a valid exemption is registered.

    Beyond April 2023, the government currently proposes that staged rises in the required EPC rating for commercial properties are due in 2027 and 2030.

    These rises will ultimately lead to a required rating of at least B.

    The 2027 and 2030 rises will include a prior ‘window’ period in which landlords must obtain EPCs and are expected to carry out any necessary improvements or register a valid exemption.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.