Climate Change Capital’s Anthony Hobley is at the forefront of environmental law change, but is suspicious of firms trying to jump on the bandwagon. David Middleton reports

Anthony Hobley does not like to see himself as a lawyer on a crusade to save the world. But Hobley is the man who most in the City credited with creating the law governing climate change and carbon trading. He has had a massive influence on the market, on this developing area of law and, ultimately, on the future of the world.

After a spell at Baker & McKenzie between 2001 and 2004, Hobley moved in-house to Climate Change Capital (CCC), an environmentally focused investment bank.

He was consulted in the creation of the EU’s emissions trading scheme, which governs the rules for carbon trading in the EU. He was also heavily involved in the UK Government’s emissions trading group and was given a special audience with UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs David Miliband when the Government published its energy review.

Hobley worked on the first emissions trading contracts and advised on the scope and design of the EU’s registry system – the infrastructure that makes trading possible.

“I’m one of those optimistic souls and I do see this as a way of making the world better, a way to change things,” says Hobley. “I’ve never seen myself as a lawyer as such, just an environmental lawyer. I always knew precisely what I wanted to do within law, but I also had a constrained entrepreneur inside me; I wanted to put my expertise into a business context. Yes, I wanted to make money and I’m financially well rewarded, but I also wanted to help do something that’s right and positive and good.”

Last week (11 September) CCC announced two market-shaking deals and Hobley was at the centre of both. The company announced a E500m (£340.7m) private carbon fund, which is expected to top E1bn (£681.4m) in the coming months, with further deal activity planned. In addition, CCC has created the largest private syndication of carbon – a 30-million-tonne deal with the City’s leading financial institutions.

“We’re very excited about this. The upshot is I’m now in the market to recruit two or three additional people for my legal team as we handle the future transactions and issues surrounding this syndication and fund,” says Hobley. “We’ve a lot of achievements planned for the next two years and I’m going to need the in-house support.”

The fund also means Hobley’s role has been split. He acts as general counsel to the funds, as well as being the director of legal policy for CCC, helping to shape its future strategies and taking a leading role in lobbying for further change.

After studying physics and chemistry before switching to law, Hobley has found life in-house has again taken him in new directions. “I know more about VAT, the Financial Services Authority and trade issues than I ever thought I would as an environmental lawyer,” he says.

Although Hobley’s move in-house was a big blow to Bakers’ climate change practice, he still rates it as the leading firm for that type of work. “Particularly in its Sydney office,” he says. “I don’t think anyone else has the depth of expertise that Bakers has assembled there.” Indeed, Bakers was the firm Hobley used for the structuring of its carbon syndication deal and it remains his primary outside counsel.

Despite an increasing number of firms looking to pile into the market, Hobley says it is still far too early to consider a panel system, although he admits that one is likely in the future. “DLA Piper are very keen to develop this practice, and they’re a firm we also use a bit; but while people are still coming into the market and developing, it’s important I maintain the flexibility to see which firms properly develop,” he says.

He also is suspicious of firms just looking to capitalise on the market. “What frustrates me is there’s not a great number of firms who’ve invested the time and effort in this area. You talk to a number who claim they’re experts, but when you scratch the surface you’ll find their expertise is very superficial and there’s no real investment.”

There is no denying that Hobley’s work is morally, as well as financially, rewarding. But for now it comprises a small and select group of crusaders.

Anthony Hobley
Director of legal policy/general counsel to the fund
Climate Change Capital

Organisation: Climate Change Capital
Sector: Renewable energy/carbon trading
Organisation type: Investment Bank
Funds under management: $1bn (£530m)
Employees: 90
Director of legal policy/general counsel to the fund: Anthony Hobley
Reporting to: Chief executive officer Mark Woodall
Annual legal spend: €4m (£2.73m)
Legal capability: Three
Main law firms: Baker & McKenzie, DLA Piper, Nabarro Nathanson, Norton Rose
Anthony Hobley’s CV: Education: 1988 – BSc (chemistry and physics) first-class honours Plymouth University; 1989 -90 (Chemistry) Darwin College, Cambridge; 1990-92 – CPE and Law
Society Finals, DeMontfort University, Leicester; 2002 – LLM University College London
Work history: 1992 – trainee, Ince & Co; 1994 – solicitor, Nabarro Nathanson; 1996 – solicitor, McKenna & Co; 1998 – senior associate, CMS Cameron McKenna; 2001 – senior associate, Baker & McKenzie; 2005 – director of legal policy, Climate Change Capital