With the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as COP26, arriving in Glasgow in November 2021, we are encouraging the profession to consider the role and responsibilities that law and lawyers play in the work to be done around climate change.
COP26 has been described, scientifically and politically, as a critical moment to focus attention on the climate change agenda. The conference intends to unite action globally by strengthening countries’ ability to handle the impact of climate change and to monitor progress towards delivery of the 2015 Paris Agreement commitments. These include keeping the global temperature rise well below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5ºC.
Impact on the legal profession
Solicitors are involved in advising clients and/or their employers on a range of matters associated with climate change, as well as considering the environmental impact of their own businesses and activities. We need to understand the challenges which are ahead, and ensure we are prepared for opportunities to influence and inform policy and legislative development in this area. So as the eyes of the world turn to Glasgow this autumn, we are looking at what action the profession and the Society can, and should, be taking.
A survey of our members towards the end of 2020, showed that climate change raises a number of issues for the legal profession, including the practical issues around the conference itself. The survey findings also highlighted that our members are interested in climate change issues for both personal and professional reasons, including advising clients or in-house teams on related matters. Post COP26, the Society will be taking the opportunity to consider the legacy for lawyers and the legal profession in Scotland.
The Society's COP26 and Climate Change Working Group
In 2020 we established the COP26 and Climate Change Working Group, which includes volunteers from across existing Law Society committees with varied policy interests including environment, energy, finance, planning, marine, employment and equalities, technology, and criminal law. The working group will provide policy direction for the Society on climate change – in particular, it is setting high level direction for consultation responses led by its committees. It is raising the profile of climate change within the legal profession – in particular, highlighting the cross-cutting nature of climate change as it affects a number of sectors across the profession.
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The Society's COP26 and Climate Change Working Group Convener, Emma Dixon, and group member Angela Daly, talk to Gillian Mawdsley and Alison McNab, Policy Executives at the Society, about why it was important to set up a working group to specifically look at the impact COP26 conference will have, including some of the practical issues arising from such a large scale conference, and how climate change issues will affect the profession in the short and longer term.
Scroll down to read more in our blogs and articles from members of the working group and others involved in COP26 and climate change work.
- Provide policy direction for the Society on climate change – in particular, setting high level direction for consultation responses and work led by policy committees and sub-committees.
- Continue to raise the profile of climate change within the profession – in particular, highlighting the cross-cutting nature of climate change and that this is an issue for a number of sectors of the profession.
- Help to identify opportunities for the Society to engage with COP26 and climate change more generally
- Practical impacts of COP26 – for example, commercial impacts, security and civil order/policing issues, impacts on solicitors’ businesses and life generally in the city.