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 and reached net zero in 2019, the same year that we formally recognised the climate emergency and biodiversity crises and set up our Climate Programme. Wanting to go further we worked with fellow B Corps to calculate and balance our emissions to include some under scope 3, such as those from our people’s commute to work and home working. We have now been measuring our emissions for over 10 years and we produced 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 280 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 workplace pension now includes an option with a 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, be it 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 this decade.

By preparing a draft of the proposed legislation, we supported the Better Business Act campaign to help show how company law could 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. And we look forward to sharing and actioning some of these ideas in the coming months.

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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