Climate change is the most pressing issue in our time. Of that there can be little doubt, and yet in most legal practises, it is hard to have any sense that we are doing enough. Sure, at a personal level we can reduce the use of vehicles, purchase ethically and look at the impact our daily lives have; but it's a huge problem, where small actions feel rather futile. It can be overwhelming.
In our practises, decisions are made by clients with little opportunity to promote climate change reduction or other ethical issues. That position has the potential to change.
The Chancery Lane Project has released a series of peer reviewed clauses which promote fighting climate change through contract drafting. Currently, there are 71 clauses, free to issue. The clauses range from Ming's clause, which provides for a shrinking target carbon footprint for projects; through Athena's clause, requiring employer's to provide a range of climate change education and awareness-raising interventions; to Ashkan's clause, requiring contractors and project delivery teams to use sustainable working practices on site to reduce the energy used in construction; and Annie's clause, providing for termination so that owners can pivot to greener suppliers.
The draft clauses cover a wider gamut of legal involvement than just construction, and give a clear indication of where legal drafting can move to promote real climate change initiatives. Better still, initial reactions from clients have been very positive. This is yet another area where lawyers can help to take the initiative in fighting climate change.