Green Guide – UK: TLT

TLT officially launched its sustainability strategy in 2021  and created a dedicated sustainability team led by expert and senior sustainability manager Agnes Altmets. The firm’s target to become carbon neutral by 2025 has been SBTi approved.

The firm has done important work to facilitate the transition to electric vehicles through its support of long-term client Ecotricity. A team including head of future energy and real estate Maria Connolly is currently advising on the client’s sale of the Electric Highway, an innovative national charging network to be sold to GRIDSERVE, which plans to replace all the existing pumps on the network with new technology such as contactless payments.

In support of sustainable farming, a team is assisting Fischer Farms on the development of a new vertical farm in Norfolk which the client claims will be the biggest in the world, creating 25,000m2 of growing space whilst minimising the environmental impact of farming.

A Bristol-based team is advising Abundance Investments on its unique funding arrangement with Carbon Plantations in support of its ground-breaking forestry project which seeks to produce commercial, net-zero timber plantations on what used to be intensively farmed land.

Besides its active membership in the Legal Sustainability Alliance and The Chancery Lane Project, the firm is also a signatory of the Greener Litigation Pledge and the Legal Renewables Initiative, and has been appointed to the City of London Law Society Energy Committee. It works closely with organisations such as Green Britain Foundation, Forest Green Rovers, Action Net Zero , Aldersgate Group and Regen. In support of clients’ sustainability strategies, the firm also created a Climate Consortium which brings together decision makers to work towards a sustainable impact.

The Glasgow office recently relocated to Scotland’s most sustainable office CADWorks, and the firm has also implemented an employee electric vehicle scheme.

Sustainability is the responsibility of everyone at TLT; we all have a role to play in reducing our negative impact and maximising our positive impact on the environment, as well as working with our clients and other partner organisations to achieve green goals.

Key to our success has been making sustainability a core pillar of our growth strategy and appointing executive board members responsible for driving our sustainability strategy forward: Maria Connolly, head of future energy and real estate; and Helen Hodgkinson, chief people officer. They are supported by our in-house sustainability team.

When it comes to our practice areas, we are a globally leading adviser to the future energy market and have been advising on the end-to-end project lifecycle for more than 20 years. Our UK-wide team is led by Maria Connolly, head of future energy and real estate.

All of our teams advise their clients on green issues, but we have set up working groups to bring together different teams on shared topics such as green finance (combining financial services, future energy and real estate) and green disputes (bringing together contentious lawyers from across the firm to deliver against the Greener Litigation Pledge).

Green finance is sponsored by Andrew Lyon, head of financial services, and Maria Connolly, head of future energy and real estate, and led by Robin Penfold, financial services regulatory partner, and Imogen Benson, managing associate in corporate banking.

Our Greener Disputes Committee is sponsored by Mark Routley, head of property litigation, and supported by the Litigation Forum.

We believe that collaboration is essential to achieving green goals, and one of our strongest partnerships has been with The Chancery Lane Project (TCLP). TCLP works with lawyers to create climate-aligned contract clauses that are freely available for businesses to use in their contracts. This partnership is led by senior knowledge lawyer Alexandra Holsgrove Jones, who runs our firmwide TCLP working group. In 2022 Alex was invited to join TCLP’s built environment project and won a competitive tender to map climate-aligned contract clauses against the whole lifecycle of a building, enabling TCLP to prioritise new clauses.

Our sustainability strategy

Sustainability has always been a focus for TLT, underpinned by our longstanding reputation as one of the world’s leading advisers to the future energy market. This gives us a unique perspective on the climate emergency and unrivalled experience and expertise that we can and do pass onto others. 

As a result, sustainability is a core pillar of our 2025 growth strategy. We have an ambitious sustainability strategy, not least our industry-leading approach to setting a net zero target (2040) that has been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) under its new Net Zero Standard. A gold standard approach to net zero means it is science-based, 1.5°C aligned, long- and short-term, total scope 1, 2 and 3 (including scope 3 supply chain) and independently verified.  

We are now working on implementing our net zero roadmap, developed in conjunction with specialist consultants Carbon Intelligence.  We have also committed to being carbon neutral by 2025, which means we will reduce our emissions as far as possible by 2025 and then offset.  

Future energy

We’re a leading adviser to the global future energy sector. Immersed in the sector as it’s grown, we’ve built an unrivalled track record delivering what our clients need so that they can lead the journey to net zero and a more sustainable future.  

Working with established and first-of-a-kind technologies, we’re involved in the ground-breaking projects and deals that move the industry forwards. We have the experience, network and sector voice to connect interested parties, create commercial opportunities and get deals done. 

Our network spans the funders, investors, technologists and developers; the enlightened energy companies and the innovators who are creating change. We work hard alongside them to inform the regulatory landscape, drive developments forward and secure essential funding and investment. 

Green finance

As leading advisers to the financial services market, we’ve been advising financial services firms and businesses on all aspects of green lending and investments, from new product launches to the structuring of debt facilities and accessing sustainability-linked loans.  

We work closely with organisations such as UK Finance, the Green Finance Institute and the Aldersgate Group to help shape UK and EU-level policy and provide firms with clear advice on green finance regulation and industry trends. We have also spoken at a number of high-profile events, including Westminster Business Forums, and continue to provide bespoke training to our clients.   

Climate-aligned contract clauses

 As an active participant in The Chancery Lane Project (TCLP), we help to draft and peer review climate-aligned contract clauses that are made freely available for businesses to use in their contracts. Our firmwide TCLP working group ensures that every team, from real estate to employment, is aware of TCLP’s clauses and finds as many opportunities as possible to promote this to clients and incorporate the clauses into precedents, ideally at heads of terms stage.  

We were also invited to join TCLP’s built environment project and won a competitive tender to map climate-aligned contract clauses against the whole lifecycle of a building, enabling TCLP to prioritise the clauses that will have the most impact. 

Litigation

As signatories of the Greener Litigation Pledge, we set up a Greener Disputes Committee to raise awareness of the commitment to reduce the environmental impact of dispute resolution and find new ways of achieving this. Supported by the firmwide Litigation Forum, our early successes include creating a set of precedents for us and clients to use to promote sustainable dispute resolution; rolling out firmwide training to all contentious lawyers; introducing sustainable conduct in court directions in the Commercial Court in London; and introducing the concept of sustainable conduct in how we work with our clients, including in letters of engagement.

What type of work do you handle in connection with “green change”?

Our main areas of work include:  

Maria Connolly, Partner, Head of Future Energy & Real Estate

Green finance – advising financial services firms (including major banks, building societies, pension funds and investors) and corporates on everything from green mortgages and sustainability-linked loans to private equity investments  

Future energy – providing a full range of services to the future energy sector; we often work on first-of-a-kind projects, helping clients to find a way of making new business models work legally, and in turn driving the market forward  

Retrofitting commercial properties – advising clients on retrofitting their properties to reduce their environmental impact   

Risk management – helping clients to comply with green laws and regulations, enabling them to move forward with their green projects with confidence 

Has your firm implemented any internal best practices?

We’ve taken an industry-leading approach to our own sustainability strategy, which includes:  

Strategic prioritisation – environmental sustainability is a core pillar of our growth strategy, meaning it guides our decisions on everything from HR policy to office strategy (e.g. it informed our fully-flexible approach to work, which reduces the need for caron-intensive commuting, and our move to Cadworks in Glasgow – Scotland’s first net zero office building)  

Senior sponsorship – we have two executive board members responsible for our sustainability strategy – Maria Connolly and Helen Hodgkinson – who keep it top of the agenda and keep things moving forward  

In-house expertise – we’ve recruited an in-house sustainability team with specialist expertise to implement our strategy  

Steering groups and working groups – these groups meet regularly to agree priorities and keep things moving forwards  

Employee engagement – we have an annual calendar of employee communications (including articles, webinars, events and competitions) to help raise awareness, educate and empower our colleagues to help us achieve our goals  

Regional sustainability forums – each forum has a chair(s), partner sponsor and a budget to run activities locally to engage people in our sustainability strategy  

External validation – we work with external parties e.g. the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to validate our approach and monitor our progress  

Has your firm joined any external ESG-related projects, networks or initiatives?

We believe collaboration is key to sustainability and have set up a number of strategic partnerships, including:  

Action Net Zero (easy, affordable actions for communities, individuals and businesses including transport, energy and buildings) – partner  

Aldersgate Group (politically impartial, multi-stakeholder alliance championing a prosperous, net zero emissions, environmentally sustainable economy) – member; we recently launched a new podcast series together called Sustainability Breakthroughs, interviewing businesses about how they’re achieving sustainability goals and responding to new legal and regulatory requirements  

Belmont Estate (restoring nature, climate and community) – first corporate partner  

Bristol24/7’s Better Business network (driving positive local change) – partner  

Business in the Community (creating a fair and sustainable world) – member; we are also one of 20 companies invited to join its Making Work Work campaign (a national campaign promoting faster, braver and bolder approaches to working “fairer, greener and together”)   

City of London Law Society’s energy committee (leading the debate on pending legislation, law reform and practice issues) – member  

Forest Green Rovers (the world’s greenest football club) – partner  

Future Leap Network (space, knowledge and tools to accelerate sustainability journey and progress towards carbon neutrality) – member  

Green Britain Foundation (charity) – supporting initiatives like the Ministry of Eco Education  

Greener Litigation Pledge (taking active steps to reduce, with a view to minimising, the environmental impact of litigation) – signatory; we have also launched our own Greener Disputes Committee to raise awareness and deliver against the pledge, which has achieved a phenomenal amount in a short space of time  

Legal Sustainability Alliance (advice, information and resources for law firms) – member and signatory of the Legal Renewables Initiative (commitment to use 100% renewable energy by 2025 – already achieved at TLT)  

Sustainable Recruitment Alliance (pledge to cut waste and make carbon savings in early talent recruitment) – signatory  

The Chancery Lane Project (climate-aligned contract clauses) – we are active in suggesting, drafting and peer reviewing clauses; also appointed to its advisory committee for the built environment; we also won a project to map opportunities for climate-aligned contract clauses against the whole lifecycle of a building, to ensure that the most impactful clauses can be fast-tracked into TCLP’s toolkit  

What are your firm’s ESG-related goals?

Our ambitious commitment to achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2040 has been verified by the SBTi, marking a monumental step forward in our comprehensive decarbonisation strategy. Our full set of near- and long-term targets include:  

  • Reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 emissions 80% by FY2030 from a FY2019 base year  
  • Reduce absolute scope 3 emissions 47% by FY2030 from a FY2019 base year  
  • Reduce absolute scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions 90% by FY2040 from a FY2019 base year 

This goes beyond the SBTi’s recommendation that businesses halve their emissions before 2030 and achieve net zero before 2050, as well as the UK’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2050.   

In recognition of the urgency of the global climate crisis and the importance of rapid and deep emission cuts, TLT’s targets are:  

  • Science-based – meaning they align with the latest climate science  
  • 1.5°C aligned – meaning they pursue the lowest target for global warming recognised in the Paris Agreement and by major governments and scientists worldwide  
  • Long-term and short-term – meaning they align with a net zero future   
  • Total Scope 1, 2 and 3 – meaning they include scope 3 supply chain emissions (which are traditionally excluded from corporate strategies, the largest proportion of TLT’s emissions and the hardest to control)  

Approved under the SBTi’s new Net-Zero Standard – the world’s first science-based standard for setting corporate net zero targets  

Is your firm involved in any public outreach or client education?

Yes, our firmwide volunteering programme sees groups of staff engage in local sustainability initiatives such as tree planting and restoring community spaces, and we are working with Belmont Estate on a bespoke volunteering scheme for our colleagues to support nature restoration. We have also run a number of sustainability training sessions for our clients, for example covering the role of lawyers in sustainability, key sustainability issues and how climate-aligned contract clauses can be used to achieve sustainability goals including net zero.  

When did ESG, climate change and/or sustainability become an area of focus at your firm?

Sustainability has always been a focus for TLT, underpinned by our longstanding reputation as one of the world’s leading advisers to the future energy market. We have formalised this in our latest growth strategy (2021-2025).  

What has driven your firm’s involvement in a green transition? (Client demand? Business case? Personal attitudes/beliefs/initiatives?)

Our longstanding work with the future energy market has been a major contributing factor, as it gives us a unique perspective and we have been acting at the forefront of the climate change agenda for decades.  

As a major business and employer, we believe it’s the right thing to do, but we’re also seeing increasing client demand for certain ESG standards, as well as new regulatory requirements and employee demand (particularly in the recruitment process).  

Do you have any strategic plans to expand your work or your initiatives in this area in the future?

Yes – as well as our existing focus on net zero, we are expanding our sustainability strategy to include nature and biodiversity, as demonstrated by us becoming the first corporate partner of Belmont Estate, a nationally-important nature restoration programme.  

Where do you see the future of ESG/sustainability in the legal community (both in terms of legal offerings and firms’ best practices)?

Two key trends will be:  

  • Increased client demand for related services and consultancy  
  • Increased awareness of how the law can be used to achieve sustainability goals e.g. by using climate-aligned contract clauses to reduce emissions in the supply chain