Over the last 2 years (since Jan 2020) we have worked with a range of people including Michelle Meagher and Ben Metz to consider how the law can be used to provide solutions to tackle the biodiversity crisis. This work has focused mainly on the legal sector. However, there are lessons to be learnt from our thinking on this that can be applied by any organisation.

We need a shift away from exploiting our planet and towards stewarding and protecting the planet and supporting biodiversity to come back from the dramatic and extreme effects on the planet caused by deforestation, modern agricultural practices, land management, urbanisation, greenhouse gas emissions and rising temperatures. We are dependent on a thriving planet so the need to act is critical.

With climate change threatening our right to life, what role does the law play in preserving our planet? The law has the potential to contribute to transformative systemic change both through regulation and legislation as well as through litigation. Empowered stakeholders can potentially have a role to in making organisations act for the climate, and fiduciary duty considerations are updated, more of us will have a voice in making a difference for the planet where we see derelictions of duty by corporations, charities, NGOs and governments.

What you can do:

  • Support the Better Business Act (link) which seeks to amend the Companies Act embed a commitment to wider society and the environment in every UK Business. More than 700 organisations have supported the campaign and it has cross-government support. A 2020 poll showed that 72% of respondents believe business should have a legal responsibility to people and planet. But you don’t need to wait for the legislation to change to start making a difference. Any organisation is able to amend their articles now to put the needs of planet and people into their decision making if they have the will of their shareholders (link to purposely?)
  • Look at your pensions and investments. Switching to a sustainable pension is one of the most powerful acts that an individual can make to address climate change (link to make my money matter campaign). Think of the enormous amounts invested in your corporate pension, and now think about the potentially huge impact moving those funds could have on the planet. By divesting from fossil fuels and other harmful activities in your pensions and investments, your organisation could really drive change.
  • Have you set a net zero target? Are you measuring and reducing your scope 3 emissions and encouraging your suppliers and clients to do the same? As a nation and as organisations, we all need to stop and take account of the impact of our actions on the planet. The first step is to measure where you are now and make a commitment to reduce all emissions that you can -this is something we should all be doing. But beyond that, you need to think about how you encourage others to join you, Unless you are a producer of things, most of your emissions will come from your supply chain. Can you put clauses in your supplier agreements or measure the performance of your suppliers based on their action on climate change?
  • Collaborate, network and share knowledge. There are a lot of businesses wanting to do more and do better. By collaborating, sharing your successes and failures and working with ‘competitors’ we can all get better at taking actions that are truly sustainable and put the planet first. Working together is the only way to reset the balance in favour of the planet and given that this is critical for our survival, it’s a bit of a no brainer.
  • Support initiatives that address the crisis with your time, money or expertise. There are so many people out there trying to make a difference, with your support they would be more likely to succeed and that is better for all of us.

If you don’t know where to start in finding people/ initiatives who need your support, networking is key. Angela M, our dedicated P&I lead, has a fantastic network that can help you get started. Reach out to her to find out more.