City firms worst on carbon, first LSA report reveals

A&O, Lovells, Slaughter and May and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have the largest carbon footprints per member of staff, it has emerged.

City firms worst on carbon, first LSA report revealsAllen & Overy (A&O), Lovells, Slaughter and May and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have the largest carbon footprints per member of staff, it emerged today, as 18 top firms published their carbon footprints for the first time.

The figures published by the founding firms of the Legal Sector Alliance’s (LSA), an initiative to tackle climate change, reveal that employees’ carbon emissions at large international firms far outstrip those of staff at smaller regional firms (see table below).

By contrast regional member firms including Burges Salmon, Irwin Mitchell and Dickinson Dees have the lowest emission levels per employee.

The LSA was launched in spring by 18 top UK-based firms (TheLawyer.com, 28 April). Its figures are published voluntarily by members to allow them to benchmark themselves against others and to measure their future carbon reductions.

The majority of firms’ emissions are due to electricity purchased externally, the report showed, although at international firms flights also make up a large proportion of emissions.

At Herbert Smith, for example, flights make up almost 30 per cent of total.

At the launch ceremony last night, LSA patron Prince Charles said: “The importance of what you, the Legal Community are doing, can not be overestimated.” He added that many environmental initiatives had historically been shaped by “legal minds”.

The report also revealed that several firms buy a significant amount of their energy from renewable sources, with Freshfields and Linklaters receiving more than 10,000 tonnes worth of CO2 from green sources.

Slaughters, DLA Piper and Bond Pearce generate 7,033, 4,662 and 2,128 tonnes from renewable sources respectively. Additionally, Bond Pearce, DLA Piper, Freshfields and SJ Berwin have offset between around 2,000 and 13,000 tonnes of carbon each through carbon-offsetting programmes.

Each firm’s carbon footprints are based on approximate calculations conducted by each firm, which were not externally audited.

The LSA’s ultimate aim is for every UK law firm to be a member and to reduce their carbon emissions.

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