Today is International Polar Bear Day. But polar bears are just to tip of the iceberg when it comes to climate change.

The totemic image of climate change threat is the lone polar bear adrift on a small ice flow, marooned from the main landmass and facing a perilous and uncertain future. For many it is the plight of the bear that symbolises climate change. Let’s use the Care for the Bear as a call to action.

The current estimated worldwide population of 26,000 bears is set to decline by 30% by 2030. Without action on climate change, Polar Bears International warn that we could lose all but a few polar bear populations by the end of the century.

Exacerbating this issue is the misunderstanding increased sightings around human settlements means that the populations are increasing. They aren’t. Malnourished bears spend more time on land for longer periods and are venturing into settlements where they are looking for food.

What can you and I do in our everyday city life thousands of miles from the Arctic to help stop the decline in populations? Well, the first and most obvious thing is to reduce your impact on the planet by addressing your own carbon footprint. For every tonne of CO2e you avoid putting into the atmosphere (whether by buying less, flying less, driving less, switching to a renewable energy source) you are taking an active step to halt climate change and increase the bears’ chance of survival.

Our individual footprints are important as they all add up, but greater still is the impact your law firm can have if you choose to take positive climate action.

Here are 5 things you can do if you care about the bears:

➡ Measure your carbon emissions footprint across all your operations and supply chain – scopes 1 2 & 3 ( LSA members can use the free online calculator)

➡ Set a challenging reduction, science aligned target to get your emissions down 50% by 2030

➡ Educate and inform your colleagues across the business about climate change and what it means -use The Law Society Guidance on Climate Change as a conversation starter

➡ Ask your clients how you can support their net zero transition journey – it matters to clients as much as to lawyers

➡  Identify and commit to a robust, reliable offsetting programme that will help to mitigate both your current emissions (as you journey to net zero) and all the historic emissions that have built up since the industrial revolution. Every tonne of CO2 we remove from the atmosphere and sequester counts.

⚪ Oh and one extra one – consider adopting a Polar Bear through the WWF Fund for Nature scheme – while it won’t solve the problem, it will provide vital funds to help tackle the key threats the bears face. You can adopt a bear for less than the price of a coffee each month.

With thanks to Amanda Carpenter for this rallying call to action.