People, planet, prosperity
Our ambitious environmental goals work hand in hand with our client sustainability work.
As a firm, we share responsibility for moving the world onto a more sustainable footing together with our colleagues, clients and business partners. Indeed, to help others transition we must also transition ourselves. This means thinking ambitiously about our impact as a firm, putting effective plans in place to move the dial and highlighting our progress transparently for others to see.
Freshfields’ commitment to environmental sustainability has been longstanding. We were one of the first law firms to offset our emissions in 2007 and, more recently, have committed to ambitious science-based targets (SBTs) to drive our emissions downwards to net zero in line with the Paris ambition (holding the increase in the global average temperature to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels).
We are supported by a number of environmental business partners. With decades of experience in corporate sustainability, they allow us to verify our performance against the standards that all firms must now reach to contribute credibly to the solution.
We aim to demonstrate leading environmental practices as a firm, independently verified for our stakeholders.
Our environmental priorities are:
- delivering upon our commitment to reduce business-related carbon emissions in line with science-based targets
- embedding sustainability as a standard way of doing things, through our procurement practices, office behaviours, smart travel, catering and focus on waste
- transitioning to a modern office network demonstrating high sustainability standards in design, development and operations
- maintaining our carbon neutral status through purchase of offsets on our way to net zero and beyond.
Driven by these priorities, we are focusing on the following areas:
- workplace (energy, water, biodiversity)
- travel (frequency, mode)
- waste (paper, packaging, food, equipment)
- catering (sourcing, diet)
- procurement (supplier charter).
The firm’s environmental priorities are communicated to colleagues from day one at Freshfields and throughout their time at the firm.
Tackling the 21st century’s greatest challenges requires all organisations to play their part. Freshfields can do this through its own example and through its advice to clients on their sustainability journeys.
Environment is everyone’s business.
Our targets and commitments
In January 2023, the firm published near-term science-based targets (SBTs), affirming our commitment to ambitious climate action.
Building on the firm’s wider environmental targets, the SBTs are an important and necessary step on our continued pathway to a net zero future.
Near-term science-based targets
55% reduction in Scope 1 & 2 (operational) emissions by 2027
100% renewable energy supply in all offices by 2030
35% reduction in business travel-related emissions by 2027
62% of our suppliers committed to science-based targets by 2027
Wider environmental targets
40% reduction in paper from 2018/19 baseline by 2025
Phase down of waste to landfill + single-use plastics in all offices
All new offices and refits to meet ambitious sustainability standards
In addition, Freshfields offsets its annual carbon emissions through our Reforestation in East Africa Programme (REAP), which produces a range of co-benefits for local communities including income generation, gender empowerment (through rotating leadership) and protection of biodiversity.
An Environmental Delivery Group (EDG) has been established to drive the actions necessary to deliver our ambition. It is overseen by the firm’s regional COOs and co-opts specialists from Environment, Procurement, Workplace/Facilities Management, Communications, HR and other teams, with input from our Global Green Group. The EDG meets quarterly to review progress and identify areas for increased focus. It is chaired by our Head of Client Sustainability and Environment, Dr Jake Reynolds, and is supported by the Environment team. The EDG reports to the firm’s Senior Partner and Global Leadership Team (GLT).
The EDG oversees the following commitments:
- science-based targets for near-term emissions reduction by 2027 as agreed with the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)
- office moves and refits in line with our workplace standards, including reuse of equipment
- implementation of our green office guidelines and our smart travel policy across the firm
- phase down of waste across all of our offices with a view to achieving zero waste to landfill
- phase down of single-use plastics against a 2021 baseline
- in-house catering and refreshments services to meet a nationally recognised sustainability standard
The Environment team communicates regularly with colleagues across the network, feeding back on progress, celebrating achievements and drawing attention to environmental initiatives across the firm.
Our client work
An overview of our client sustainability practice can be found here.
In tandem, we have committed to the Greener Arbitration Pledge and the Greener Litigation Pledge, helping to minimise the environmental impact of international arbitration and dispute resolution cases.
Freshfields is also a member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance, and is an official dialogue partner of Legal Charter 1.5, an initiative to help law firms align with the Paris ambition to limit global warming to 1.5°C.