Companies are being called to account for climate risks with growing pressure from governments, investment companies, unions and the public. Nearly one thousand leading businesses have set reduced emissions targets with notable pledges from Nestle, BP and Coca-Cola European Partners to achieve Net Zero in the next 20 to 30 years.

To meet these targets, companies will need to reduce their Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 Emissions. These scopes cover both the direct and indirect emissions of the organisation which are influenced by the workforce, ranging from office electricity, paper and water consumption to business travel and waste disposal. 

However, in their implementation, the majority of pledges take a top-down approach and only concentrate on cutting emissions through the manufacturing and supply side of the business, while the role of the world’s 3 billion employees have been underutilised and overlooked.  

Employees in an organisation will need to be encouraged to play their part in meeting a company’s Net Zero target. However, the absence of formal practices has led to limited employee opportunities, awareness and control, which has fostered scepticism over the value of an individual’s action on climate change mitigation.

We propose that employers collaborate with their employees to ensure that sustainability solutions are engrained into every part of the employment relationship and thereby into the very fabric of the organisation. It is through this level of collaboration that employers are going to be able to best hit their environmental targets.

Adoption of the Employer-employee environmental obligations clauses will grant employees the right to volunteer for environmental organisations on garden leave or on a partially funded sabbatical, while the Net Zero Culture Employment Handbook will allow environmental, sustainability and Net Zero initiatives to be interwoven into employment policies and contracts.

Clyde & Co is delighted to be supporting clients interested in introducing these clauses into their employment contracts and internal employment policies.

Alongside this, Clyde & Co has pioneered an innovative HR “Eco Audit” which is a review and where appropriate, reconfiguration of each and every aspect of the employment relationship to maximise sustainability and drive forward climate change initiatives through greater collaboration with employees, and embed a climate focused culture in the workplace. The HR Eco Audit not only focuses on new contractual clauses and/or policies and procedures that could be introduced above and beyond those mentioned above, it also considers other key contractual documents (such as settlement agreements) and suggests new initiatives to improve and enhance a sustainability working culture, whilst also flagging the specific employment legal risks if employers fail to take steps to address climate change.

Please reach out to me or Charlie Urquhart if these clauses or the HR “Eco Audit” are of interest. 

This post is part of a series of short updates summarising the precedent clauses drafted in the course of collaborative hackathons organised by The Chancery Lane Project.  Clyde & Co held its own hackathon in partnership with The Chancery Lane Project in July 2020, and has taken a leading role in the Big Hack, another hackathon organised centrally by The Chancery Lane Project throughout autumn 2020.