GREEN GUIDE EMEA 2023: Germany
CO2 neutral certified German law firm Arqis Rechtsanwälte combines innovative legal advice with corporate, ecological and social responsibility. In 2021 the firm founded its public and regulatory practice which focuses on environmental law, and regularly handles advice on solar and wind projects, including for key clients such as Bürgersolarpark, a central player for solar energy in Germany.
The firm also advises clients in the burgeoning hydrogen sector. Friedrich Gebert and his team (Luise Schüling, Hannah Düwel and Bernhard Gröhe) are the go-to advisors for Sunfire, a company which researches and produces electrolysers for the generation of green hydrogen, in all matters pertaining to regulation and contract negotiations.
Another area where the firm counts with deep regulatory knowledge is e-mobility, including in connection with charging station infrastructure. Mirjam Boche and Gebert are assisting Ionity on all compliance and public law issues. The client is a joint venture of the car manufacturers BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen which aims to build and operate a network of high-performance fast-charging stations for electric vehicles along Europe’s main transport axes. Dortmunder Energie- und Wasserversorgung also benefit from the firm’s expertise in this space.
Internally, the firm has retroactively offset all its emissions since 2020, analysed its CO2 footprint together with carbon management company Planetly (now OneTrust), and formed the Arqis Green Team, comprised of employees across the firm, to map out its emissions reduction strategy.
Ashurst’s Frankfurt office often handles mandates concerning renewable energy transactions and green mobility solutions, providing an important contribution to the firm’s multijurisdictional renewables and decarbonisation team.
Maximilian Uibeleisen, who leads the firm’s German renewables practice, advised Adidas on its target to become climate neutral at its sites by 2025. Assisting the client’s commitment within the Science Based Targets initiative to transition to clean energy and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the firm advised on procuring a renewable energy provision and on a Europe-wide power purchase agreement.
Within the renewable energy sector, the firm also assisted Commerz Real’s KlimaVest Fund in entering a strategic partnership with EPC provider AMPYR Solar Europe for the development of a 200 MW solar PV pipeline in Germany.
Another recent client was Vinci regarding the tender run by the German government for the construction and operation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure along national motorways and within regional areas. The matter facilitates the uptake of electric vehicles across Germany, helping decarbonise transport and promote sustainable choices.
The firm’s global Sustainability Hub supports clients in developing the expertise necessary for their decarbonisation strategies, with thought leadership including an ESG Matters podcast, focused on net zero and sustainability developments; an ESG financial impact assessment, featuring a contribution from the Frankfurt office; and a global interactive tool which helps investors navigate opportunities within the emerging hydrogen market.
As a member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance, Net Zero Lawyers Alliance, and The Chancery Lane Project, the firm aids the green transition of the legal sector through assisting with the development of green expertise and contractual clauses. Internally, the firm has submitted its Carbon Disclosure Project benchmark and created a global sustainability pledge, in which employees were asked to add their commitments to the firm’s decarbonisation target.
Eversheds Sutherland’s German offices stand out for their work concerning renewable energy projects, with a focus on the wind market. Werner Brickwedde is leading the team on a matter representing RWE Renewables on the establishment of a joint venture with Northland Power, with the aim of developing and operating three offshore wind farms in the German North Sea, with a total capacity of 1.3 GW. The transaction value is expected to be worth several billion euros. Alongside the Paris office, the Düsseldorf team is also advising Rencore Energy in connection with the development of a 150 MW wind power project in Mali, representing one of the first projects in the area well as one of the biggest energy deals to take place in the country.
A UN Global Compact participant, the firm is a founding member of the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance, and a member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance, the Chancery Lane Project, and the Legal Renewables Initiative. Internally, the firm has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability with a firmwide initiative to reduce its scope 1,2 and 3 emissions by 50% by 2030 or sooner, and being net-zero by 2050.
Leading independent German law firm GSK Stockmann’s ESG team is comprised of multi-disciplinary experts from across the firm. The firm especially contributes in the areas of green finance, sustainable real estate, and compliance, including taxonomy, and assists a range of clients with the implementation of ESG regulation.
A team including Christoph Strelczyk advised Terra Kapitalverwaltung on the launch of an SFDR-compliant fund for the development of a sustainable new urban quarter.
Donner & Reuschel seeks the firm’s advice on ESG compliance regarding its products and services, including the development of existing asset management and adjustments to client documentation to facilitate more sustainable client choices. The client is able to draw on managing partner Oliver Glück and financial regulation partner Philippe Lorenz’s key expertise.
In support of the advancement of e-mobility in the country, Jan Henning is representing Tesla in landmark proceedings against the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) relating to the incentivisation of e-vehicles through the ‘environmental bonus’ (Klimabonus) scheme.
In 2022 the firm published its first sustainability report after working with an external sustainability consultant, and hosted its first ‘Sustainability Day’ with expert speakers on the topic.
In Germany, Hogan Lovells has demonstrable expertise advising major clients on transactions, finance provisions, and green bond issuances which facilitate the transition to greener and more efficient energy solutions.
In Hamburg, the firm advised EB – Sustainable Investment Management and LHI Group on their acquisition of the 71 MW Swedish windfarm project Aldermyrberget, assisting with contract negotiations, merger control issues, and due diligence.
Supporting the development of renewable energy projects, Carla Luh advised Berenberg Green Energy Junior Debt Funds on its provision of financing to developers for: the construction of a 30 MW onshore wind farm in Finland; the acquisition of a 50 MW solar PV plant in Spain; and the construction and operation of solar PV plants in Italy and Chile.
In a major sustainable finance mandate, the firm’s Frankfurt office advised Norddeutsche Landesbank on its first green bond issuance; the proceeds of the €500m issuance will be used to finance loans for the purchase, construction, or refurbishment of energy-efficient and green buildings.
The firm’s Responsible Business programme has supported the Rewilding initiative, which helps combat climate change through transforming land areas into wild nature carbon sinks. The firm provides pro bono legal advice and financial sponsoring to Rewilding Europe and is partnered with Snowchange, a non-profit cooperative between indigenous Sámi and local communities in eastern Finland, to finance the rewilding of a former peat extraction site.
Through the Science Based Targets initiative, the firm has committed to both reduce 90% of its scopes 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2030 and become net zero by 2030, implementing a global net zero strategy which currently prioritises the transition to renewable energy, sustainable procurement, and green real estate. Facilitating the formulation of clear actions to reduce its internal footprint, the firm certifies its responsible business policies through EcoVadis.
German boutique law firm Lindenpartners specialises in sustainable finance and has expanded its expertise in public administrative law, with a specific focus on ESG. The team advises a range of clients including public authorities and NGOs on implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Of note is the firm’s work for WWF Germany on the “Pathways to Paris” project for which the client provides a discourse platform to reflect on low-emission and alternative technologies as well as an evaluation system to classify these technologies from a financial perspective. Lars Röh and Nils Ipsen lead on the matter. They are joined by Nina Scherber in their continued assistance to the German Savings Banks Association and German Derivatives Association in the implementation of the EU Action Plan “Sustainable Finance”, specifically regarding product governance and disclosure. Ipsen is also active in the developing German hydrogen market.
Under its ‘Green Office’ heading, the firm takes concrete measures to minimise its electricity and water consumption, and the team almost exclusively travels via train for work trips. It also promotes a better understanding of sustainable finance and ESG regulation through regular, free-of-charge legal talks and regularly publishes academic journals such as its whitepaper on sustainable finance which is also publicly accessible.
Norton Rose Fulbright
Norton Rose Fulbright’s long-standing engagement with sustainability is evident in its climate change practice which was established 20 years ago and which sits alongside the firm’s dedicated sustainability and energy transition team. The practice in Germany stands out in particular for its corporate and finance work within the renewable energy space.
In a highlight led by Munich-based Klaus Bader and Sebastien Frech, the team advised JERA, a Japanese power company which promotes the adoption of greener fuels and thermal power that doesn’t emit CO2 during power generation, on its investment in Hydrogenious LOHC, a German company developing, producing and selling technology which supports the safe transport and delivery of hydrogen. Bader and Frech also acted alongside Bernd Dreier and others in advising Brookfield Renewables, which operates one of the world’s largest renewable power platforms, on its acquisition of Sunovis, a solar project design and development company which has successfully developed more than 30 solar projects in Germany and other European countries.
Globally, the firm regularly contributes to thought leadership in the area via its energy transition newsletter and energy transition hub, among other platforms. It is also one of the founding members of the Chancery Lane Project.
Osborne Clarke LLP
In Germany, clients can draw on Osborne Clarke LLP’s expertise in renewable energy, including offshore wind, green hydrogen and PPAs. In an ongoing highlight, head of the firm’s decarbonisation practice Alexander Dlouhy is advising Bauverin on an energy and heat transition matter concerning renewable heat generation (PVT systems and geothermal local heating) and rooftop PV systems. Dlouhy is also acting for Elexon, a provider of solutions for charging electric vehicles, on a range of legal matters.
In another current highlight, head of financial services in Germany, Tanja Aschenbeck, and others are assisting One Group with the restructuring of an ESG impact fund with a value of over €200m, which will be used to finance the management of agricultural land in Angola.
Globally, the firm demonstrated its commitment to a green transition by signing a letter sent to world leaders prior to COP26, urging them to take action to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
Its internal Osborne Clarke For Good initiative aims to make the firm a more sustainable business by reducing its impact on the environment, among other measures. In Germany, train travel has been established as standard means of transport for business trips within the country.
Pohlmann & Company
Leading German compliance boutique Pohlmann & Company provides holistic advice on a range of ESG matters. In 2021 the firm further strengthened its supply chain due diligence expertise with the addition of Martin Schorn who regularly advises on environmental and human rights requirements of the German Supply Chain Act.
Climate change and CO2 emissions trading law specialist, Uwe M. Erling, advises leading carbon offset platforms ForTomorrow and 50ZERO on the financial regulatory compliance of their business model for the purchasing of European Allowances under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). The team is also acting for an NGO aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the transportation sector with accreditation under the EU ETS. Erling’s deep expertise is demonstrable in his role as head of the legal subgroup for the Working Group on Emissions Trading to Combat the Greenhouse Effect at the Federal Ministry for the Environment and his longstanding position as a lecturer on sustainable aviation at Danube University.
The firm’s ESG ideas competition gives employees from across the firm an opportunity to contribute to its internal sustainability strategy. Improvements have focused on CO2 reduction as a company and sustainability in the workplace.
Schalast Law | Tax
In 2021, German boutique law firm Schalast became an official ambassador of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, upholding the values in its legal consulting across all practice areas. Managing partner Christoph Schalast drives the sustainability agenda within the firm, which is also a part of the UNFCCC’s Climate Now Initiative as well as ‘Gold Standard’ climate-neutral certified via agency Climate Extender since March 2020 through offsetting projects. Schalast was additionally elected as the global chair of the law firm network Multilaw’s newly founded ESG committee, aiming to motivate and empower member firms around the globe to raise their ESG profiles.
The firm is at the forefront of the green transition in the aviation sector. Matthias Geurts is leading the legal advice to the Hessian Ministry of Economic Affaires on the financing structure of the decarbonisation of air travel. Also of note is Marc-André Rousseau’s ongoing corporate and commercial legal support to NEX Aero, which is developing hydrogen regional air mobility.
The banking and finance team has built complex blockchain-based tokens for clients such as Green Trade and Aqua Spark which specifically focus on climate change mitigation and sustainability.
Head of corporate/M&A Gregor Wedell assisted long-term client and green transition proponent Viessmann on its joint venture with BEGA, Eltako, and Oventrop to develop the wibulter IoT platform. The aim is to establish an independent standard for the European building technology industry with particular regard to smart homes and buildings.
In 2021 the firm strategically expanded its reach with a specific focus on energy. Hamburg-based Janka Schwaibold and Victoria Boss are supporting one of Germany’s biggest suppliers of renewables, Green Planet Energy, with regard to all customer-related legal questions. The two work closely on a range of legal issues arising from the green transition and innovative renewable technologies.
Von Bredow Valentin Herz
Highly specialised German law firm von Bredow Valentin Herz focuses exclusively on providing legal advice in the renewable energy sector. Recent work led by Katrin Antonow and firm co-founder Florian Valentin has included advice to energy storage solutions provider Leclanché on all legal issues relating to contracts, facilitating the expansion of electricity storage in the country. Jörn Bringewat and Steffen Herz are providing assistance to one of the world’s largest PV manufacturers Hanwa Q CELLS on a range of legal matters including green PPAs and project development of ground-mounted PV systems.
The team’s clear commitment to reducing fossil-fuel dependence is evident through its range of pro bono offerings, including but not limited to support for the German Wind Association, the German Solar Association, and the Association of Energy Storage Systems. Bringewat, Valentin and Bettina Hennig also contribute as legal lecturers on the part-time course “Hydrogen for Professionals and Executives” at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems IWES.
Internally, the firm has established a no-fly policy and provides all employees with public transportation tickets to incentivise low-carbon travel.