Sustainability and ESG

Business leaders are facing ever increasing pressure to ensure their organisations are resilient and best able to address social issues, balancing purpose and profit. As leaders grapple with the pace and disruption of the ‘new normal’ there is greater visibility of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues focused initiatives which present economic, legal, political and reputational risks as companies and their directors are held to commitments beyond those dictated by law.

Our Sustainability practice helps companies navigate the legal, business and political ramifications of developing and implementing initiatives to achieve ESG and sustainable outcomes. We advise on matters such as stakeholder engagement, corporate governance, crisis management, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, ethics and compliance.

Our team is at the forefront of these developing issues, advising clients on matters relating to sustainability, climate change and the impacts on business. We are the first New Zealand firm to commit to climate conscious drafting applying the approach taken in The Chancery Lane Project.  Our team takes a multi-disciplinary approach to sustainability-related risk management that includes commercial, environmental, tax, insurance, banking and financial lawyers.

We advise public and private sector clients – including Refining New Zealand, Ports of Auckland, major banks, government ministries and a wide range of energy companies – on a full suite of corporate governance, sustainability, and climate change challenges.

“Our multi-disciplinary team can help safeguard your corporate reputation, mitigate risk and leverage opportunity.”

How we help

  • Audits, investigations and regulatory reporting into ESG practices and commitments
  • Crisis management
  • Data resilience and cybersecurity
  • Environment and planning
  • ESG due diligence
  • Evolving disclosure standards and third-party reporting frameworks
  • Governance advice across all sectors
  • Human rights and employment issues, including modern slavery
  • Stakeholder analysis and engagement
  • Sustainable finance (including green bonds, green loans and social loans)

Recent work

Establishment of DrylandCarbon Partnership – Advised Z Energy Limited, Air New Zealand Limited, Genesis Energy Limited and Contact Energy Limited on the establishment of the DrylandCarbon Partnership – a limited liability partnership that invests in a geographically diversified forest portfolio to sequester carbon.

New Zealand’s first ESG loan – Acted for Synlait in entering the country’s first Environmental, Social and Governance linked loan, where the pricing is based off performance against an external ESG benchmark.

Climate-related litigation – Acting on an arbitration for a company regarding a dispute as to who is contractually responsible for satisfying carbon emissions obligations pursuant to an indemnity.

Regulatory advice on climate change – Governance advice on climate change responsibilities and challenges, including arising from the Zero Carbon Bill and other regulatory frameworks; advising on offsetting agreements and novel projects designed to reduce emissions and transition businesses; disputes about responsibility for emissions liability and climate risk.

Directors’ duties and ESG performance – Advising B Lab (a global network creating social and environmental performance standards, policies, and tools for business) on director duties and liabilities for purpose-led companies in New Zealand.

Who can help