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Environmental sustainability

We recognise that, as a global business, we need to rise to the challenges and opportunities of environmental sustainability by continually improving our environmental performance.

Our vision

“To contribute to improving the environmental sustainability of the legal sector by implementing best practice in operational management”

Our management framework, ambition, enthusiasm and data are shared across our international network. We work closely with our people, service partners, clients and external stakeholders to make a difference to the world around them. We are executive members of the Legal Sustainability Alliance (LSA); a collective effort by law firms in the UK to take action to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations and activities. We support the UK Legal Renewables Initiative, and are committed to procuring 100% renewable electricity for our UK offices by 2025.

Our integrated energy and environmental management system

Our approach is underpinned by our ISO 14001 (UK & Netherlands) and ISO 50001 (Netherlands) certified environmental and energy management systems. The scope of our management systems are:

  • UK - “Provision of buildings engineering, facilities management and front of house services at Allen & Overy in London and Belfast”
  • Netherlands - “The provision of business services in the areas of catering, cleaning, security, reception, document management and reproduction and building management at Allen & Overy in Amsterdam”

Our environmental performance

During 2019 the firm continued to demonstrate its commitment to environmental sustainability by addressing its most material sources of CO2 emissions and supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal 13 – Climate Action. We purchased Gold Standard Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VER) credits to offset the CO2 emissions from our global air travel for 2018. Going forward, we plan to offset all our global residual CO2 emissions, including aviation emissions. Just over 75% of our global electricity consumption was supplied from renewable sources in 2019.

Just over 55% of our carbon footprint is within the scope of our ISO 14001 and 50001 Environmental and Energy Management Systems at our London, Belfast and Amsterdam offices. 

Our reported global carbon footprint has decreased from 30,714 tCO2 equivalent (using location based emissions factors* for grid electricity) in calendar year 2018, to 29,079 tCO2 equivalent in calendar year 2019. This decrease of 5% is within the context of an increase in employee numbers and occupied floor space of 2% globally. 
Our carbon footprint has therefore reduced on an absolute, per capita and per unit area basis. 

The most significant reason for our reduced carbon footprint is reduced electricity consumption and reduced grid emissions factors, more than offsetting an increase in fuel consumption and air travel.

Our emissions reduction targets

We’ve set ambitious and independently assessed greenhouse gas emission reduction targets approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The targets will see the firm reduce by 50% its absolute annual global carbon emissions by 2030 from a base year of 2019. 

The approval from SBTi confirms that the new commitment is consistent with the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement, with the firm’s reductions in line with those required to keep global warming to 1.5°C which, according to the latest climate science, is what is needed to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change. 

The approved targets will address the direct carbon emissions made by the firm and its people globally as well as the indirect emissions from its worldwide supply chain and the goods it purchases.

*following the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 guidance

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