Zero carbon by 2050- what you can do to help...

In a landmark decision, Theresa May’s legacy may yet still be her commitment to environmental reform, as she leads Britain into a commitment to reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2050. In a move that sees the UK government leading the way for other nations, Prime Minister May has stated that: “We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions, "now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. We must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth."

The move will see serious reductions to the way Britons consume energy, and reforms which will seek to amend our reliance on plastic, single use items and fossil fuel. Described by campaigners as the most urgent issue of our generation, the BBC reported that the government said ‘it was "imperative" other countries followed suit, so there would be a review within five years to ensure other nations were taking similarly ambitious action and British industries were not facing unfair competition.’ These measures will likely include tighter building regulations, a reduced allegiance to fossil fuels and a firmer grip on the meat and dairy industries. While it is yet to be seen who the costs of the change will be prevailed upon, agitations are growing, for private industry to accept its responsibility and contribute towards securing environmental stability.

To help your law firm to promote environmental responsibility we’ve pulled together 10 tips to help you integrate conscious consuming into your day to day activity.

1. Get tech savy—

Don’t fall into the trap of being a stereotypical law firm which is piled high with papers. We live in a digital world, which means there’s a great opportunity to go paperless by creating a digital bank of things such as contracts, documents, and anything that you don’t legally need to have printed out. To help you on the journey to a paperless future, LexisNexis has produced a guide to help you consider a paperless office policy

2.Recycle—

This doesn’t only go for recycling old documents in a confidential waste bin, but also for your general waste. LexisNexis offers a general recycling bin and one for food waste to ensure that our contribution to landfill can be reduced.

3.Reduce single use plastics—

Single use plastics can take more than 1,000 years to bio-degrade and if melted release toxic fumes into the atmosphere. By introducing a ban on these water bottles, or an incentive for bringing in a chemical-free reusable bottle/coffee cup is an easy way to reduce single use plastics in the workplace. Another alternative is to offer ‘workplace kitchenware’ in any kitchen area, where people can use communal glasses, mugs, cutlery and plates

4.Encourage emailing—

It can be hard to get out of the comfort of writing physical letters when it comes to legal matters. However, with things like encryption coding, emailing is a safe and paperless way to send out communications

5.Assess your materials—

Have a look at your materials such as stationary, filing materials, equipment, furniture and electronics, see if anything can be swapped out for sustainable sources, recycled materials or even something that is itself recyclable

6. Sustainable Travel—

Transport for London has released a guide for sustainable business travel, some of the main takeaways include: making an alternative to travel by replacing face-to-face contact with video or teleconferencing; travel blending by reducing the frequency of business travel by combining meetings into one trip and managing time better; encouraging staff to take efficient travel modes, for example LexisNexis offers a ride to work scheme to encourage cycling. Flight providers such as BA are now offering 0% Carbon Footprint flights

7.Measuring your ‘carbon footprint’—

As suggested by the Legal Sustainability Alliance (LSA), the Greenstone calculator provides a user-friendly tool to calculator your footprint and monitor your progress over time. This is intended to improve ‘transparency, consistency and comparability of carbon emissions’

8.Engaging employees—

Employees are already putting pressure on their employers about environmental policies, with the Carbon Trust finding that ‘more than three-quarters of UK employees now consider it important to work for an organisation that has an active policy to reduce its carbon emissions’. Despite this it is still a good idea to run things such as awareness campaigns and identify ‘green champions’, in doing so you are not only mobilising the benefits of employees on climate change, but you can also reduce costs, increase staff morale and improve recruitment and retention. The LSA has an employee engagement tool which can help you implement the above

9.Creating a green policy—

Linda Horbye, Head of Corporate Responsibility at CMS outlines the benefits of a green policy, arguing that they can produce ‘cost savings, such as lower energy bills and zero waste’. Introducing simple things such as energy-efficient light bulbs, and ensuring all electronics and lights are turned off when not in use can easily cut costs and energy usage. Creating a framework for new initiatives such as reducing waste, saving energy and lowering distribution costs can be a guide for all employees

10. Rethink and renovate—

This step may be a little pricier but could save you a lot in the future. If refurbishing your firm’s office, you should be looking at things such as: windows that allow natural light and are reinforced to prevent energy leaks; a recycling water system with energy efficient features; insulation and flooring; using eco-friendly masteries for furniture and décor

Filed Under: Practice of Law

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