New Workshop Discusses The Challenges and Opportunities For In-House Counsel In Setting and Meeting Appropriate Climate Targets
A workshop for In-house Counsel has heard how they have a major role to play in helping their businesses to navigate the tricky world of net-zero and sustainability.
As the world’s leaders get set to meet at COP26 in Glasgow to discuss the huge challenges facing the environment, attendees at an event held by The Lawyer and Irwin Mitchell discussed how businesses could play their part in the push towards net zero.
The session was co-chaired by Hannah Clipston, Director of Strategic Growth for Corporates & Institutions at Irwin Mitchell, and Louise Needham who is the firm’s new Environment and Sustainability Manager.
Around half of In-House legal teams agreed that their organisations had set or were in the process of setting net-zero or science-based targets as part of their ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) agenda, yet none had decided to verify their commitments externally as yet.
Expert Opinion“ESG is the hot topic of the moment but discussion can often be too broad and doesn’t allow for a real-world focus about what In-House counsel can actually do to help.
“What we found in this workshop was that across all industries knowledge of the specifics around sustainability, such as what net zero means or how to achieve it, varies massively.
“The role of in-house counsel is evolving in a rapidly changing world and it can be a challenge encouraging their boards to take action on climate targets and sustainability, particularly with the wide array of market challenges such as supply chain issues and Covid-19 currently battling to take priority.
“Creating a business case means understanding the key drivers of change but it can be very difficult to quantify issues such as the cost of inaction, reputation risk and resilience to future regulation.
“What was loud and clear from the attendees was that In-House counsel can support collaboration across different teams and it was recognised that there would likely be key allies across all businesses interested in tackling climate change and sustainability. The in-house counsel’s role is join forces with these and other stakeholders to take the necessary steps to improve their business’ sustainability agenda.” Hannah Clipston - Director of Strategic Growth (Corporates ＆ Institutions)
The workshop heard how In-house counsel can help with:
- Strategic auditing of sustainability and helping to develop a top-level commitment to ESG and shared responsibility
- They should be proactively horizon scanning to turn risks into opportunities particularly for any future regulatory requirements
- They can help develop policies and procedures and potentially manage supply chain relationships to ensure the correct due-diligence is undertaken
- And finally they should be involved in any crisis management should any ESG challenges present themselves as the reputation and financial implications can be huge.
The ‘Net Zero and the role of in-house counsel’ workshop included delegates representing a variety of industries across banking & finance, infrastructure & transport, technology, retail and law firms. The session was part of The Lawyer’s In-house Counsel as Business Partner 3-day conference which featured face-to-face and virtual events.