The Legal 500 Green Guide: EMEA 2023

GREEN GUIDE EMEA 2023: South Africa


Multi jurisdictional firm CMS is a UN Global Compact Signatory, and counts on a specialised South Africa team that is at the forefront of the country’s renewable energy market.

Following president Ramaphosa’s announcement reforming the license limit for distributed generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW in August 2021, Johannesburg-based Bridgett Majola and Kabelo Dlothi advised the Development Bank of Southern Africa on two novel 100 MW Solar PV projects, considered pioneer projects under the country’s new energy regulatory environment.

Globally, the firm counts on a SDG-based environmental roadmap, which includes measurable goals which demonstrate the firm’s commitment to sustainability. These include avoiding, reducing, and offsetting its environmental impact, carrying out pro bono work, and donating to charities involved in supporting the environment. Furthermore, for the second year in a row, in 2022 the firm organised a CMS Sustainability Month, an internal initiative aimed at raising awareness about environmental issues with a focus on the climate crisis.


Via its environmental practice group which supports the firm’s project finance and commercial law teams, business and litigation law firm Fasken has expertise providing sustainability-focused advice across environmental and renewable energy projects.

Francois Joubert advised DRDGOLD – which rehabilitates sterilised mine land for agricultural, urban, and industrial uses, thereby improving the local environment while facilitating economic and social development – on environmental and regulatory requirements, and on the client’s sustainability and circular-economy strategy. Also within the environmental solutions sector, the firm is experienced in advising on the regulatory requirements and implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility Policy and Scheme. 

Assisting Nedbank and ABSA Bank as lenders in the portfolio financing of five wind energy projects, the firm provided advice on financing and environmental considerations. As one of the largest single renewable energy financings in Africa, the project, targeting a 700 MW capacity, will support the expansion of South Africa’s renewable electricity provision. 

The firm is also active in advising on renewable energy projects within the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). Key individuals include managing partner for South Africa Blaize Vance and co-leader of the firm’s global energy and climate group Ashen Jugoo.

Through its ‘Project Tomorrow’ programme, the firm is committed to making a positive impact through implementing internal ESG strategies. Having established a Green Team within the office to work specifically toward reducing internal greenhouse gas emissions, the firm has since worked with expert consultants to assess and reduce its environmental footprint. Toward attaining its emission-reduction objectives, the firm has installed solar panels which meet the energy demand at its Johannesburg office.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

The Johannesburg office of UN Global Compact member Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has demonstrable experience advising on renewable energy projects and on innovative, multijurisdictional mandates handled by the firm’s global ESG team. 

In an international matter led by Ernst Müller, the ESG team advised the Green Hydrogen Organisation on its Green Hydrogen Contracting and Green Hydrogen Standard initiatives. For the contracting initiative, the firm assisted with drafting and reviewing briefing papers concerning policy and regulatory developments, financing, and sustainable development. For the standard, the firm reviewed the universal code which would be used as a certification by hydrogen-producing companies. Together, the initiatives will help authenticate the eco-friendly claims of green hydrogen producers and support future legal regimes that regulate the fuel’s production and consumption.  

The firm has demonstrable experience advising on corporate and project financing elements within South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), which seeks to expand the country’s electricity capacity through private-sector investment in renewable energy. Pursuant to the REIPPP, the firm advised EDF Renouvelables and EDF Renewables South Africa on the building of three wind farms, and Scatec Solar as EPC provider in their successful bids for a 273 MW solar portfolio, under which the client will sell all power produced through a twenty-year PPA. 

Having established a commitment to become net zero by 2030 within its global sustainability strategy, the firm has certified its near-term reduction targets with the Science Based Targets initiative and verified its footprint data through the Carbon Disclosure Project.

In an effort to help share best practice, build lawyers’ capacity to support the green transition, and reduce the environmental impact of legal work, the firm is a member of the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance, Legal Sustainability Alliance, and Campaign for Greener Arbitrations.

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells’ Johannesburg office makes a key impact to the firm’s global ESG practice area – which encompasses environmental law, the energy transition, sustainable finance, social advice, and corporate governance – by advising on leading green energy projects which help decarbonise South African industry.

Chris Green, a member of the firm’s ESG practice group, advised renewable energy solutions provider SOLA Group on the corporate aspects of its two 100 MW solar PV projects. The projects will generate power to help decarbonise Tronox Mineral Sands’ operations in South Africa and are among the largest private energy generation projects in the country.

To boost clients’ green knowledge, the firm launched an ESG Academy, which provides videos and podcasts on topics including climate change, green finance, sustainable procurement, and the energy transition; and an ESG Global Vision tool, which coordinates insights into international ESG-related regulations, laws, and standards. For the Global Vision tool, the firm has provided advice on South Africa’s green taxonomy, carbon tax act, and national environmental management act.

Globally, the firm is a signatory to the UN Business Ambition for 1.5°C and Race to Zero, and a member of The Chancery Lane Project, which develops climate change-focused contractual clauses for firms to utilise. Through the Science Based Targets initiative, the firm has committed globally to both reduce 90% of its scopes 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2030 and become net zero by 2030, introducing a net zero strategy which currently prioritises the transition to renewable energy, sustainable procurement, and green real estate. To identify clear, impactful actions which can help reduce its internal carbon footprint, the firm certifies its responsible business policies through EcoVadis.