35 FEB 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM HELPING CLIENTS TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH BIODIVERSITY reputational standpoint. However, the Environment Act goes further, increasing due diligence requirements placed on businesses to ‘green’ their supply chains, including a duty to establish a system for identifying, assessing and mitigating the risk of illegally produced forest commodities entering their supply chains. Lawyers can assist businesses in meeting new requirements by writing their due diligence policies, as well as working with the client to help them to ‘green’ supplier contracts. To protect clients and their reputations, ‘green clauses’ can require net-zero standards for suppliers, helping clients meet their own net-zero targets by reducing their Scope 3 emissions. They can use incentive-based models in agreements to ensure sustainability objectives are adhered to and maintained or use late payment mechanisms to support green causes or off-setting. There are also opportunities to introduce green execution protocols, which lawyers and their clients can collectively agree in heads of terms at the start of an execution, minimising the carbon footprint of deal execution. Lawyers can make contracts and processes green in a multitude of ways, working with clients to ensure that their business partners are aligned with environmental goals. responsible body, such as a charity or local authority, to preserve wildlife, habitat or heritage assets. Conservation covenants, binding agreements with remedies for breach including specific performance, damages and injunctions, are a tool where landowners can leave a lasting legacy and create ecological benefits for generations to come. Whether the obligation is to preserve ancient woodland or to require a biodiversity net gain, it will be registered with the Land Registry as a local land charge – meaning if the actions of a subsequent owner circumvent the terms of the original agreement while the obligation is still binding, they may face prosecution, even 150 years later. If landowners can be encouraged to support conservation covenants, they can be a key asset for preserving biodiversity. Lawyers may need to raise awareness of new legislation among clients and how conservation covenant agreements can help clients fulfil their environmentally friendly aims and wishes. New requirements for local authorities The Act also extends some protections for the natural environment, including a requirement for local highway authorities to consult with communities before felling street trees (unless the trees qualify for certain exemptions, as may be the case with trees infected with ash dieback). Consultation must be in accordance with established principles and regard any guidance issued by the relevant Secretary of State for the present purpose, including that local authorities must give sufficient information to give ‘intelligent consideration’ – meaning that consultations must be available, accessible and easily understood so that consultees can provide an informed response. Law firms can provide guidance to local authorities to ensure they are acting within both new and established principles, as well as assisting their clients with essential Leaving a lasting legacy The Government’s landmark Environment Bill introduced legislation for conservation covenant agreements, proving there is growing recognition of the importance of protecting the environment, wildlife and habitats. Conservation covenant agreements enable a landowner to enter a voluntary, but legally binding, contract with a Lawyers can assist businesses in meeting new requirements by writing their due diligence policies, as well as working with the client to help them to ‘green’ supplier contracts.