An LSA Update on Climate Week NYC

An LSA Update on Climate Week NYC

Matt Sparkes, co-chair of the LSA and Sustainability Director at Linklaters, spent last week at Climate Week NYC. We asked him for his thoughts…

Let’s get the irony over before we begin. Yes, there is some absurdity in travelling thousands of miles to bump into those who work just across the street and, yes, hours in a plane is, well…

Truth is, if we were not here in person, we would not find the time to talk, to listen and to learn. We wouldn’t be exposed to new developments, to get a feel for others’ progress and to strike new connections that may or may not be the partnerships of tomorrow. I would not now know – or be reflecting upon – the challenges of turning a city (Bristol) green. I would still be underplaying the importance of governance in a Just Transition. I would still be believing that everyone else knows that much more.


It has been a vibrant, eclectic and chaotic week. The United Nations Global Compact Leaders’ Summit was a platform for launches and celebrations of topics ranging from a living wage to corruption and from human rights to, of course, climate change. It was vast in range and vast in scale (and perhaps too vast for workshops, if truth be told). By contrast, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ‘Goalkeepers’ event was tightly-packed, brightly-coloured and unrelentingly moving as it showcased again and again how the SDGs really must be addressed. Alongside these was a thoughtfully curated Climate Action event which, with an eye to #COP, presented a good case as to why the bandwagon should relocate in its entirety to Dubai in a few more weeks. And that is why these things are tricky. In a virtual world where attention is hard to maintain, even without the cover of ‘camera off’, there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face and being focused and engaged throughout. Those moments where you bump into colleagues and have time to chat and those sessions where you really can follow up with questions, discussion and dates in the diary.


Perhaps we shouldn’t need to go far, far away to achieve these things but that’s the way it is and I’ll be heading home energised by conversation, reacquainted with some bright and engaging people and ready to pick up the baton once again. Bouncing from one capital’s conference centre to another (as many still seem to do) does seem an odd way of making progress but, for those of us for whom this is rather more annual, it is an injection of insight, energy and, yes, hope and we all need more of that every so often, don’t we?

About Matt Sparkes

Matt is co-chair of the LSA and Sustainability Director at Linklaters. Matt leads Linklaters work on responsible business globally, ensuring that the firm’s own ESG performance reflects all stakeholder expectations and the advice provided to clients on many related themes. Matt is active in a range of sustainability networks including as EMEA Chair of Business for Societal Impact and as co-chair of the Legal Sustainability Alliance. He is also a Board Member and Trustee of the UNGC-UK Network, is vice-chair of the Living Wage Foundation and, in his spare time, was until recently proud to act as chair of an east London employability charity.

Law Society Statement on Ukraine

Law Society Statement on Ukraine

The Law Society has issued an important statement on Ukraine which the LSA endorses and which is reproduced below.  The statement can also be accessed via the Law Society website here.

The Law Society of England and Wales president Stephanie Boyce said:

“The Law Society stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian National Bar Association and the Ukrainian Bar Association. We also stand with the Russian people who oppose their government’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and lawyers who are defending the rule of law in the region.

“We condemn the actions of the Russian Federation, which are in contravention of international law. There is no doubt that these actions are a direct threat to the rule of law.

“We continue to support our members in the region at this difficult time.”

Plastic Treaty Signed

Plastic Treaty Signed

Source:UNEP Press Release 02.03.22

On 2 March 2022 Heads of State, Ministers of environment and other representatives from 175 nations endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) today in Nairobi to End Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024. The resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.

President of UNEA-5 and Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment Espen Barth Eide stated “Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best.  Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.”

The resolution, based on three initial draft resolutions from various nations, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which will begin its work in 2022, with the ambition of completing a draft global legally binding agreement by the end of 2024. It is expected to present a legally binding instrument, which would reflect diverse alternatives to address the full lifecycle of plastics, the design of reusable and recyclable products and materials, and the need for enhanced international collaboration to facilitate access to technology, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation.

The treaty reflects the growing challenge of tackling plastic pollution:

Plastic production soared from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, becoming a global industry valued at US$522.6 billion, and it is expected to double in capacity by 2040. The impacts of plastic production and pollution on the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution are a catastrophe in the making:


The Climate Papers Podcast Series

The Climate Papers Podcast Series

Preparing for COP26? The Climate Papers is a series of podcasts brought to you by the COP26 Universities Network; a network of more than 55 UK universities coordinated by The Grantham Institute at Imperial College, working together to support ambitious outcomes for climate action at COP26 and beyond.  Each podcast explores a topic in one of the COP26 Universities Network’s briefing papers, which can be found here (


COP26 Universities Network Briefing Papers:
The Climate Papers Podcasts:
Wainwright Prize 2020 Winners Announced!

Wainwright Prize 2020 Winners Announced!

16-year-old Dara McAnulty wins the Prize for Nature Writing and Benedict Macdonald wins first ever Writing on Global Conservation Prize

The winner for the much-loved Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing has been announced at a virtual awards ceremony on September 8th. Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty chronicles the turning of the then 15-year-old’s world and breaks the mould of modern nature writing. As the youngest ever winner of a major literary prize, Dara’s book is an extraordinary portrayal of his intense connection to the natural world alongside his perspective as an autistic teenager juggling exams, friendships and a life of campaigning. Mike Parker’s beautiful On the Red Hill was awarded highly commended in the category.

Hear Dara McAnulty sharing his thoughts on winning the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing here

This year’s prize has been extended to include a second category for books about global conservation and climate change, and Rebirding by Benedict Macdonald is its inaugural winner. Praised as ‘visionary’ by conservationists and landowners alike, Rebirding sets out a compelling manifesto for restoring Britain’s wildlife, rewilding its species and restoring rural jobs – to the benefit of all. Irreplaceable by Justin Hoffman was awarded highly commended in the category.

Hear Benedict Macdonald expressing his thanks for winning the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation here

Listen to the stories behind each one of this year’s 13 shortlisted books across the two categories as told by the authors to Planet Pod here

LSA response to Jonathan Goldsmith Article for Law Gazette

LSA response to Jonathan Goldsmith Article for Law Gazette

‘Closing the Circle on Climate Change’ 1st June 2020


Covid 19 has impacted every aspect of our professional and personal lives. Across all professions and businesses, talk is now of the ‘new normal’ of a safe return to work and post the pandemic and what that might look like. Addressing the climate emergency must be central to that new way of working. Lawyers and law firms have adapted to an alternative way of working, time in front of a screen has replaced time commuting with the obvious environmental benefits that brings. Overnight, ideas that the Legal Sustainability Alliance (LSA) has been advocating for the last 14 years such as reducing air travel and cutting carbon emissions from plant and practices, have become operational everyday practice.

Pollution levels are down, air quality is visibly improved, wildlife is returning to urban landscapes and nature is regenerating. Carbon emissions are predicted to be down in 2020 by between 4-7% which although not huge, it is a significant shift towards helping the UK to achieve its Net Zero targets by 2050. This shutdown is not desirable, the pain and loss of Covid 19 are immense and not the route any of us would have chosen to address climate catastrophe. We do however have to learn the lessons, both for public health and the environment, as well as to see how we can move forwards sustainably.

The LSA is at the forefront of this agenda for the legal profession as a UK network of over 180 law firms supported by the Law Society which seeks to encourage the profession to work more sustainably and to reduce its impact on the planet, not just be reducing emissions but through changed behaviours by working collaboratively with clients and colleagues to share best practice.

At the LSA we would argue that as influencers and leaders, lawyers have the ability to support and challenge themselves, their clients and the policy makers to move this agenda forward. The pandemic shows that we are globally connected and climate change, like Covid, has the power to affect us all. The legal profession has a key role to play. Sustainable business is good business and will of itself become the “new normal”.

The success of The Chancery Lane Project launched in late 2019 which has now, with the help of thousands of hours of pro bono time, created the Climate Contract Playbook and the Green Paper of Model Laws. Both are evidence that “the legal community has a responsibility to ensure the whole machinery of law, public and private, is brought into line with the objective of a just transition to a climate resilient and net zero emissions economy” as Lord Robert Carnwath, CVO, Justice of the Supreme Court says in his foreword to the first edition of the playbook.

As Greta Thunberg says ‘if not now then when? If not you then who?’ This call to action matters now more than ever.

Caroline May, Partner Legal Sustainability Alliance Co Chair LSA

Matt Sparkes, Head of CR Linklaters, Co Chair LSA

If you would like to join the LSA please contact the team at i[email protected] or find out more at