Collaboration is the best tool for fixing the climate

Maria Connolly, TLT

Maria Connolly, Head of Clean Energy and Real Estate and Executive Board Member responsible for sustainability at TLT, explains how the law firm sees working together with other companies as key to meeting their environmental and business targets.

There’s no denying it, we’re in trouble. It’s a climate emergency, as Bristol City Council was the first to acknowledge. And when you’re in trouble, the thing you need most is a circle of friends who can help.

At TLT, we set ourselves the ambitious goal of being a net zero carbon operation by 2025. We are legal advisers to some of the clean energy industry’s leading companies, and we have learned from them that sustainability is not an add-on; it must be a foundational part of business strategy.

The commitment to eliminating our carbon footprint comes at the same time as a revolution in workplace flexibility, hurried on and informed by the Covid pandemic. It’s not as simple as metering the energy use of one central building.

We have staff and partners in different locations and circumstances. Our progressive, fully flexible working policy helps to attract the best people and empowers them to work at full capacity, while reducing travel and office space requirements. This is good for the firm’s work and carbon targets, but it makes measuring our environmental impact challenging.

We turned to Carbon Intelligence, a specialist in positive environmental business change, for help with our roadmap to net zero. Meaningful commitments require measurable targets. They’re undertaking a full review of our business. Their strategists, data scientists and engineers are working together to find opportunities for us to grow into a company that will carry on delivering for all our stakeholders while also reducing our environmental impact.

I’m happy to be able to say that our clients and partners have found equally good outcomes in the work we have done with them. We are working with Forest Green Rovers, the world’s greenest football club, fully vegan, and the first to be certified as a net zero carbon emitter by the UN, on a number of great initiatives, and advising on the building of its new wind and solar-powered stadium, Eco Park. We also provide pro bono advice as part of our wider partnership commitment, and are working together on sustainability education in schools.

Action Net Zero is a group in Bristol, dedicated to accelerating the positive steps we can take towards a better environment, including encouraging electric vehicle take-up through sharing charge points in homes and businesses. TLT is working through the legal issues around liability and accessibility and has been delighted to work with the broad partnership of businesses that Action Net Zero has assembled.

The Chancery Lane Project (TCLP) is a pro bono group of more than 700 legal collaborators. It works to create a library of contract clauses, for use by anyone, that are designed to reduce carbon emissions. TLT is an active member of TCLP, contributing to its more than 70 templates including requirements for green transport, circular economy principles in property law, and employment contracts that promote environmental responsibility.

Our clients come to TLT because we understand the objectives embedded in their organisations and the power of tackling climate change together. Sustainability, collaboration, flexibility and employee wellbeing are business positives because they contribute to the bottom line as well as benefiting the communities we are all part of.

When we work together, businesses can reduce environmental issues and become a part of the solution.