Climate Change & Sustainability: Driving Sustainable Change in a Data Driven World

Continuing with our focus on climate change and sustainability issues to coincide with the UN Climate Conference, COP26, in the UK, today we wanted to discuss the contemporary data driven lawyer and its relevance to climate change.

 

We, in Ireland, of course, should be more familiar with the effects of this data driven world. Some of the core group of technology companies that are driving this technology revolution are, and have, had a commercial base in Ireland for many years. This push for data has now spread across society and there is more and more data being produced on climate change and sustainability.

Today’s commercial lawyer has to engage with this explosion of data, and it is one that is set to continue. Increasingly, there are obligations – for accounting practices and securing international finance - to be more transparent around reporting on risks from climate, sustainability and waste issues of business activity. With the advent of an increase in data around these issues it is now unavoidable for a lawyer not to engage with all this data and for it to affect the advice they give to their clients.

Legal clients expect to be protected now and into the future on these issues of climate and sustainability risk. For example, in 5-10 years, it will no longer be good enough to say legal advice given at the time (today) was good, when in fact data was available that could have informed that advice. In extreme cases, such as in the high value energy sector, we see current and former executives being taken to court to answer to company strategic decision-making as it is claimed they should have been aware of these risks to the company and they did not diversify investments – for example, Exxon Mobil, one of the largest multinational energy companies in the US.

Stay tuned over the next week, as we continue our coverage of climate change and sustainability issues and their relevance to the legal profession.

 


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