BER21: Educating and advocating for action in relation to climate change and environmental sustainability together

Pinsent Masons

This blog post was produced for inclusion in the Birmingham Economic Review for 2021.

The annual Birmingham Economic Review is produced by the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. It is an in-depth exploration of the economy of England’s second city and a high-quality resource for informing research, policy and investment decisions.

This post is featured in Chapter 5 of the Birmingham Economic Review for 2021, on sustainability and a green, clean and just transition.

Click here to read the Review.

Climate change is having an impact on every business, in ways that could not be foreseen even just a few years ago. Organisations need to take a holistic, coordinated approach to decarbonising their activities.

In September 2020 Pinsent Masons created the Climate Change Mitigation and Sustainability Platform to embed a firmwide approach to the climate crisis. The Platform exists to coordinate internal and market-facing climate change initiatives with the goals of not only reducing the firm's own environmental impacts but also supporting clients in their bids to address and deal with the effects of climate change and working with third parties to influence positive change. 

Through our work, we seek to enable our clients and our people in all groups, sectors, and locations to:

  • Understand the action that governments are taking, including setting ambitious Net Zero targets, to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement;
  • Understand the essential role that businesses can play in arresting climate change;
  • Take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet Net Zero targets and sustainability objectives.

In June this year Pinsent Masons unveiled targets to cut absolute carbon emissions by a minimum of 50% by 2030, as it continues to reduce its environmental impact and support clients in tackling the climate crisis. The firm’s targets, which are among the first law firm targets to be verified by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), commit to reducing absolute global greenhouse gas emissions by FY2030, from a base year of FY2019.

To build on the work already being done to reduce environmental impact as a business, we have also established an employee network dedicated to the personal action that everyone can take to reduce their impact on the planet – because we can all do something to help with climate change. The Climate Change and Sustainability Network was established and is run by Pinsent Masons’ employees, and is independent of and separate to the work that the firm is doing in terms of client advice and reducing the impact of its own operations. The purpose of the Network is to engage, educate, influence and advocate for action on climate change and environmental sustainability. 


What steps have we taken to achieve this?

  • Appointed a network of champions from our offices around the world.
  • Our champions have started to build their own local networks with the aim of engaging as many colleagues as possible.
  • Plans have been developed by each location setting out initial local and regional events and initiatives.

It’s important to emphasise that the Network is not about trying to tell people what to do, nor is it a marketing tool for the firm. We are interested in encouraging personal, positive action to reduce climate change and increase sustainability. Although the Network is still in its infancy, some interesting initiatives are already underway or are planned, including:

  • Use of personal carbon calculators – enabling everyone to take the first step to understand their own environmental footprint and to do something about it;
  • Green your commute initiative – maps showing reduced carbon commuter options and sustainable businesses in the vicinity of our offices;  
  • Office clothes swaps – bring items you don’t want/wear anymore and exchange them with others;
  • Promotion of tree planting apps and websites – search the web or watch some promotions and plant trees as a result;
  • Bring back bees – distribution of bee friendly wildflower seed packs;    
  • Photography competition – capturing the actions being taken to reduce personal impact.  

In September, we welcomed leading expert in carbon footprinting and author of ‘How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything’, Mike Berners-Lee, to officially launch the Network via a webinar.

Businesses have an important role to play in doing their part to lower carbon emissions from business operations and supply chains, but also encouraging personal behavioural changes towards more environmentally sustainable practices across its employees.

Greg Lowson
Pinsent Masons