A group of solicitors, barristers and academics in England & Wales will this week launch a suite of contracts and laws to help lawyers around the world fight climate change.

The Climate Contract Playbook and Green Paper of Model Laws to tackle climate change will be launched by the Chancery Lane Project on 26 February at an event hosted at Airbnb’s offices in London.

Lawyers from 63 firms and organisations have collaborated to draft 16 precedent clauses which will help lawyers and businesses wishing to:

• build in green improvement obligations in supply contracts;

• terminate contracts and move to more climate-friendly suppliers;

• back-to-back net zero targets with suppliers and partners;

• drive impact on climate change through their investments; and

• facilitate voluntary work on climate solutions by offering climate sabbaticals.

The green paper sets out seven model laws to accelerate the transition to net-zero emissions, such as a proposal to change planning regulations to favour sustainable developments and an incentive to mobilise infrastructure scale investment into tree planting. 

All the clauses and model laws are free to use for law firms, businesses and policymakers.

They are the first output of the Chancery Lane Project, a group of lawyers working pro bono to create the legal conditions needed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. One prominent supporter is Supreme Court justice Lord Carnwath, who commented:

"The role for commercial lawyers to help tackle the climate crisis has been largely overlooked. Lawyers who draft the contracts that shape the economic relationships of our society must use these arrangements to enable rather than hinder the transition [to net zero]."

He added: "I strongly welcome this initiative by the Chancery Lane Project. I add my encouragement to lawyers and businesses to use these contractual clauses whenever practicable, and to help the project to improve and extend this work."

Matthew Gingell, general counsel at Oxygen House Group and chair of the project's steering group explained: "The project is different. It is not about individuals, organisations or founders. No one person or organsiation has all answers. It is about the collective effort in finding them. We believe all lawyers can make a difference, from corporate solicitors to human rights barristers."

He added: "Our laws and contracts have until now allowed and encouraged humans to live unsustainably. But those laws and contracts are human inventions. The Chancery Lane Project shows us when we collaborate without agenda we can create the solutions needed to tackle the climate crisis."