Climate emergency

We see the climate emergency as one of the most critical problems facing our society. We are committed to both actively reducing our impact on the environment and to using law as a force for good to support a just transition to net zero.

More about Bates Wells & the climate emergency

We have done a lot of work to directly reduce our carbon emissions. Over the last 10 years we have reduced our carbon emissions by over 80% and we reached net zero carbon on our scope 1 and 2 emissions and those scope 3 emissions we were able to measure in 2019. We achieved this through carbon reduction activities and balancing our residual emissions through verified carbon offset schemes. Year on year we have increased the scope 3 emissions that we measure and we have now set a science-based target that has been validated by the Science-Based Targets Initiative to reduce all our emissions (including the emissions from all of our spend) by 50% by 2029 and 90% by 2050.

We formally recognised the climate and biodiversity crises in 2019 and set up our Climate Programme to help us meet the commitments we made when we recognised the crises. We published our first Climate Report in 2020.

With the help of our Climate Programme and support from the wider firm, we have set up a range of targets and initiatives to lessen our environmental impact. Our plastic free project aims to significantly reduce the use of single-use plastic in our operations, which we have now cut by 80%. Our Print ReLeaf initiative sees us offset our printing and we have planted over 360 trees since June 2019. We have also updated our supplier questionnaire and code of conduct to push net zero ambitions further down our supply chain.

Many of these ideas come from our people who we actively engage and involve in our collective efforts to lessen our environmental impact. And we encourage planet-friendly lifestyle choices. Our default workplace pension fund has a more sustainable portfolio, and we promote a ‘sustainable swaps’ programme which offers top tips for easy actions that our people can take in their daily lives.

Where we can, we support our people in these sustainable choices, for example by setting up recycling points where they can dispose of hard-to-recycle waste such as contact lenses and medicine packets or offering a subsidy to those switching to selected green energy providers. We also run internal talks to contextualise the initiatives we promote with external speakers joining us from think-tanks, B Corps, banks and sustainable businesses. There is more on our Climate Programme and reducing our environmental impact in our annual Climate Report.

We know that these efforts to lessen our environmental impact are important steps in tackling the climate emergency, but we also want to do more, namely, to use our influence and legal expertise to drive change in our social and economic system so we can help accelerate meaningful action on climate in this decade.

By preparing a draft of the proposed legislation, we supported the Better Business Act campaign to help show how company law can change to apply a ‘triple bottom line approach’ to business, and so align the interests of shareholders with those of wider society and the environment. We also work with the Chancery Lane Project to help businesses incorporate climate and net zero aligned clauses into contractual drafting.

Our B Lab Boardroom 2030 activation saw us host a climate-focused hackathon to explore our people’s ideas around how we best harness our influence and expertise to drive the change we need to see. We are already working on some of these ideas and have recently launched our sustainability & responsibility pledge. This publicly sets out how we want to use the law as a force for good. It is an explicit acknowledgement that we recognise the influence we can have by making positive choices about the clients and work we are prepared to take on.

We know that collaboration will be key as we move forward. We want others to take the steps we are taking and to inspire us to do more, so that together we can make even more of a difference.



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