Our approach

Whilst our operational coverage spans across the planet, a comparatively small ecological footprint is produced when compared to other sectors. Nevertheless, we are committed to being leaders in environmental sustainability and our firmwide Environmental Policy is guided by the United Nations Global Compact environment principles; the International Standards Organisation Environmental Management Systems 14001:2015; and the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure continuous improvement.

Leadership and commitment

The Corporate Responsibility Committee, with delegated authority from the Partnership Board, endorses the firmwide environment programme, including the environmental policy. This support intersects with the skills, enthusiasm and capabilities of those responsible for environment in their jurisdiction, most of who manage environment in addition to other core responsibilities e.g. operations, office management, finance.

We are one of only two global law firms to hold firmwide accreditation of the environmental management system (EMS) to ISO 14001:2015; this independent assurance and certification, provides the confidence to our people, clients, and other interested parties that environmental improvements are always underway across our locations.

The EMS has enabled the identification of six areas of focus: climate change, resource conservation, waste management, pollution prevention, biodiversity and taking action. Therefore, environmental impacts are monitored, measured and reduced through innovative initiatives; and engagement is fostered with our people, clients, supply chain partners and other relevant stakeholders.

As a CDP (formerly called the Carbon Disclosure Project) supply chain responders since 2012, Linklaters is the only global firm to have consistently disclosed firmwide greenhouse gas emissions. An A- score was achieved in 2020 for the fourth year in a row, retaining Linklaters CDP environmental stewardship leadership position, and the highest a global law firm has achieved to date. This demonstrates Linklaters is ‘implementing current best practices’.

Advising clients

Our Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) team has a robust understanding of the regulatory and policy drivers of the market and experience across a wide range of sectors and contexts. We take a holistic approach, covering a wide range of areas - from climate change and resource efficiency, human rights and community engagement, antibribery and corruption, transparency and disclosure, product governance, and risk management more generally.

Carbon neutral business

In celebration of the UNEP World Environment Day, in 2017 Linklaters became a carbon neutral business and in 2018 a new three year partnership was announced with ClimateCare to offset unavoidable emissions through the Gola Rainforest Project.

Achieving carbon neutrality followed a 10 year programme of reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions from energy use, business travel, waste and water. Emissions are offset from all scope 1 (e.g. gas use, refrigerant losses), scope 2 (i.e. purchased electricity which is not 100% renewable sourced) and scope 3 (e.g. business travel, electricity transmission and distribution, waste, waste and couriers). New environmental objectives which will ensure emissions continue to reduce are set annually.

> Carbon neutrality infographic (opens pdf)

Engaging our people

Since 2007 the firm has marked UNEP’s World Environment Day as the primary vehicle in raising awareness across the firm as a call to action for some of the world’s most challenging environmental issues. Themes have covered climate change and carbon emissions, energy efficiency, wildlife conservation, plastic pollution, sustainable and local food sourcing, resource conversation, re-use and upcycling and environmental law.

For almost as long as this, the firm has marked Earth Hour. Depending on the issues which are most important to our environment teams across the world, Earth Day, World Water Day and other days of significance are celebrated.

Collective action

We are both founding and executive members of the Legal Sustainability Alliance (LSA), an inclusive network of law firms and related organisations committed to working collaboratively to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations and activities. Linklaters is represented on the Leaders Group, the Taskforce, and subscribes to the LSA Principles.

Other partnerships include the City of London Corporation’s Air Quality Champions Awards and Clean City Awards Scheme, Business in the Community, and with EWS-WWF in the UAE.

Sustainable by design

Consideration is given to environmental certifications and/or ratings of new and existing buildings. For example, Linklaters are occupants in:

  • an A-label building in Amsterdam, a LEED platinum and DGNB gold pre-certification building in Frankfurt, 
  • a ‘Class A’ building in Milan, 
  • a BCA Green Mark Scheme building in Singapore, 
  • a LEED Silver accredited building in Stockholm, and 
  • a BREEAM rated Excellent building in Warsaw. 
  • From summer 2020, we will occupy a LEED ‘Silver’ rated office in New York (certified in 2016). 

    From 2026, our headquarters will be in 20 Ropemaker, London which is designed to be a minimum BREEAM (Shell and Core) ‘Excellent’ rated building.

Environmental, health and wellbeing aspects are also included in the design process for fitting out new office space or when office space is refurbished. This has included using materials made from recycled components, re-using existing materials, minimising waste, installing LED lights, motion detectors and purchasing furniture with good environmental certifications and low chemical paints.

A positive dialogue with building management is key to the ongoing environmental performance of office space, and, in many locations for managing environmental data. In Hong Kong, for example, the building manager hosts tenant sustainability meetings.

Tangible Results

In 2017 the firmwide base year was re-stated to 2010 (previously 2007), achievements include greenhouse gas emissions:

  • across scope 1, 2 and 3 reduced by 26%
  • resulting from electricity reduced by 42%

In 2018, 73% of electricity was sourced from a 100% renewable supply.

Linklaters Greenhouse Gas Emissions Statement

Firmwide Carbon Emissions Units 20101 20172,5 20183  20194
Scope 1 Company Vehicles tonnes CO2e  48 58 56  58
  Fugitive Emissions tonnes CO2e 58  158 119  176
  On-Site Combustion tonnes CO2e  1,431  1,403 1,446  1,315
Scope 1 subtotal tonnes CO2e 1,529 1,620 1,622  1,548
Scope 2 Electricity tonnes CO2e 15,125  9,950 8,761  7,582
Direct Heating & Cooling tonnes CO2e 3,200 739 543  413
Scope 2 subtotal tonnes CO2e 18,325 10,689 9,304 7,995 
  Scope 2 subtotal (accounting for
 renewable energy purchased)
 tonnes CO2e n/a  7,166   4,411  3,696

Scope 3

Business Travel tonnes CO2e 9,889 9,704 11,564 11,970 
  Events Travel  tonnes CO2e  n/a  n/a  368 717 
  Transmission & Distribution tonnes CO2e 1,450  846 770 544 
Waste tonnes CO2e 288  64 65 61 
  Paper Purchased tonnes CO2e n/a  n/a  438 414 
  Water tonnes CO2e 102 78 73 78 
Scope 3 subtotal tonnes CO2e 11,729 10,693 13,277 

Total emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3) tonnes CO2e 31,583 23,001 24,202 23,330 

Total emissions intensity

(Scope 1, 2 and 3)

tonnes CO2e 5.45 3.60 3.74 3.53 
Total emissions (accounting for renewable energy purchased)    tonnes CO2e n/a 19,479 19,310 19,029 
12010 data limited assurance to the principles of AA1000 (2008): inclusivity, materiality and responsiveness. 
22017 data limited verification in accordance with the requirements of ISO 14064 – part 3 standard.
32018 data limited verification in accordance with the requirements of ISO 14064 – part 3 standard.
42019 data limited verification in accordance with the requirements of ISO 14064 – part 3 standard.
5to ensure consistency across greenhouse gas emissions factors for electricity and due to DEFRA ending the production of electricity factors for overseas locations in 2016,electricity emissions factors were instead sourced from the IEA and rebaselined for all years. Therefore, years 2010 and 2016 above have been updated since the previous assurance years.

The 2019 Greenhouse Gas Assurance Statement is here.

Environmental Performance

Firmwide Unites 20101 2017 2018  2019
Business Travel Air Million km 44.9 62.1 71.9  71.5
Road Million km 1.8 1.4 1.4 1.1 
Rail Million km 4.5 3.5 3.1 2.6 
Energy Electricity Million kWh 35.7 23.8 23.7 23.5 
Renewable Tariff Percentage 61 61 72  73
Other2 Million kWh 20.9 11.1 10.4  9.2
Resource Use Paper A4 Reams 207,351 170,580 165,846 153,895 
Water M3 97,831 71,485 72,899  73,686
 Waste Disposal  All waste3 Tonnes 2,453 2,109 1,839  1,615  
   Recycling4 Percentage 57 78 77  75  
1Base year was restated to 2010 (from 2007) in 2017.
2Includes gas, district heating and cooling, fuel and gas oil.
3This includes over 10 different types of waste streams, based on a combination of weighed and estimated waste data.
4Recycling rate in 2019 in the UK was 88%, based on weighed data.