Earth Day Insights: How Lawyers Are Fighting Climate Change
Thomson Reuters has long supported The Chancery Lane Project (TCLP), a collaborative effort of lawyers worldwide working to develop new contracts and model laws to help fight climate change. Today TCLP is announcing the publication of 21 new clauses and three new model laws, bringing the total number of free clauses to 71.
The clauses – developed by 700 lawyers from 140 organizations – are freely available to law firms, corporations and governments worldwide, and they cover a wide range of practice areas, subject matters and agreement types.
Legal Current had an opportunity to catch up on TCLP’s latest efforts with Becky Clissmann, environmental law editor at Thomson Reuters Practical Law and a member of TCLP steering group, and Andrew Clarke, Practical Law senior editor, Corporate, Ireland, who has championed TCLP efforts in Ireland. Clissmann last talked with us after TCLP’s 24-hour global hackathon to create new contracts and model laws. Below is a recap of our latest conversation.
Legal Current: Last year’s global hackathon united more than 200 lawyers, who created 100 drafting ideas that will inform important climate-focused legal briefs. What TCLP events are planned for 2021, and what will they focus on?
Clissmann: TCLP have hit the ground running this year! In order to be able to publish a Net Zero Toolkit ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November, TCLP are running a series of sector and practice area focused events that are aligned with COP26 and the UN’s Race to Zero. So far, TCLP have held events focused on drafting climate solutions for land and agriculture, and real estate. Over the coming weeks, TCLP’s events will focus on climate-conscious drafting for the finance, insurance, water and shipping sectors. The drafting from these events will be part of TCLP’s Net Zero Toolkit, which will help Race to Zero participants and any other organizations setting Net Zero targets to ensure their legal agreements are aligned with those targets.
TCLP are also spending time this year to engage with law firms and in-house legal teams to make them aware of the wide variety of climate solutions that have already been developed by their drafting teams and to help them integrate this wording into their precedents and legal agreements.
LC: As TCLP works to create the legal conditions to fight climate change, how are legal contracts helping to facilitate change?
Clarke: Legal agreements govern the commercial world; what is written into them can either lock the parties into a high-carbon business-as-usual scenario or direct them on the path to a lower carbon world. By incorporating TCLP’s climate clauses into precedents and then legal agreements, we are rewiring those contracts, and the way businesses operate, to take account of the climate impacts and risks implicit in their transactions. Effectively, incorporating these clauses into legal agreements translates an organization’s Net Zero targets into the instructions for how the organization will operate when it takes climate impacts and risks into account.
2021 has been billed as a pivotal year for tackling the climate emergency. TCLP’s clauses are a crucial resource for lawyers advising clients on their Net Zero transition.
LC: How is Thomson Reuters supporting the legal profession’s efforts to fight climate change?
Clissmann: Thomson Reuters has backed TCLP from the very start. Sponsoring the hackathons for the last two years wasn’t just about providing a venue and administrative support. The most significant support has been from volunteers in Practical Law teams around the world who have provided expert support to the TCLP drafters. Other Practical Law volunteers have helped to peer review the clauses prior to publication on TCLP’s website. Last but definitely not least, our Social Impact team and Communications team have provided expert advice on how TCLP can best disseminate its message to the profession.
Clarke: Our support goes beyond helping to create TCLP’s clauses. Practical Law editors have also started to incorporate TCLP’s drafting within our resources to ensure that subscribers can access the most comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date information on managing the climate risks faced by their clients. We know that the legal profession needs to take account of climate risks and impacts in every transaction, and we will ensure that our materials reflect what lawyers need to know about this growing body of legal know-how. We have worked with many of our customers on TCLP events as well and specialist working groups have been set up to further develop TCLP in Ireland. The response of our customers has been incredible, and it is brilliant to see. We are starting to build some real momentum now.
LC: How are you celebrating Earth Day?
Clissmann: I’m lucky enough to live on a farm in rural Ireland. We are currently still in lockdown here but I plan to go for a walk to see what plants are popping up in the hedgerows. Bluebells are my absolute favourites, so it is always very special when I see them for the first time each spring.
Clarke: As I live near the sea and a large public park, I intend to do an early morning walk with my two dogs and enjoy fresh air, birdsong and the lovely views from the hill at the top of the park. On a sunny day it is absolutely stunning. Also, I badly need the exercise to shift the latest lockdown pounds; Ireland’s latest lockdown has not been kind on my waistline!
Learn more about how lawyers are fighting climate change by listening to Clissmann’s recent TEDx talk. Also, read about TCLP’s efforts in their news release, and learn more about Thomson Reuters support of TCLP in the 2020 Social Impact Report.