Official approval for Osborne Clarke’s ambitious target to slash its emissions and reach net zero

December 8, 2023

International law firm Osborne Clarke, which has a major office in Bristol, has become one of the first UK businesses to have its net zero targets officially validated.

The firm, which employs around 800 people in Bristol and also has UK offices in London and Reading, is among the first cohort working with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to gain its approval for their efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Its near-term target to reduce its GHGs by 50% across all scopes by 2030, was validated by the SBTi in October last year.

The firm then pledged to submit a long-term target in line with the SBTi standard within 24 months of this verification.

This plan was delivered in 12 months, setting the firm a long-term target of 2040, 10 years ahead of its original 2050 plan.

In line with the SBTi net zero standard, this commitment means reaching at least a 90% reduction against the 2019-20 baseline year by 2040, and only then purchasing removal credits for any residual emissions arising from the firm’s activities.

Osborne Clarke UK managing partner Conrad Davies said the firm was very proud to have approved near and long-term science-based emissions reduction targets with the SBTi.

“To be one of the first organisations to have a verified net zero target of 2040 in line with the SBTi net zero standard is a huge motivator for everyone in the business, and aligns with all of the work we are doing to reduce our impact on the environment and work more sustainably.”

Osborne Clarke recently began rolling out carbon literacy training to its UK business, an upskilling programme designed to provide employees with a deeper individual and collective understanding of how to tackle the climate crisis.

The day-long training covers science and impacts; policy; and action, and informs attendees about what the firm is doing to measure, report and reduce its emissions. The UK executive board was the first cohort to have received the training.

The firm is now working to set international science-based targets, with international CEO Omar Al-Nuaimi leading that project.

It hopes to submit these to the SBTi early next year and has already delivered a number of decarbonisation-themed initiatives and programmes across the international business.

The firm also recently hosted its second annual Decarbonisation Week ahead of the COP28 climate summit, which is currently taking place in Dubai.

Osborne Clarke also recently signed the Fossil to Clean letter, backed by the We Mean Business Coalition, alongside 130 other companies urging national governments to address the primary cause of climate change – burning fossil fuels.

The letter calls on financial institutions, fossil fuel producers and governments to work together in creating viable opportunities to enable the move away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy solutions.

Earlier this year Osborne Clarke relocated its Bristol base from Temple Quay to 74,000 sq ft of state-of-the-art space on the top five floors of the landmark Halo building at Finzels Reach – regarded as one of the UK’s most sustainable offices.

It is one of the first office developments to be connected to Bristol’s pioneering low-carbon district heat network, while other greentech features include roof-top mounted solar panels, which reduce dependence on fossil fuels, highly efficient LED lighting and air quality monitoring technology that responds to levels of pollutants in the indoor environment.

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