At Sweeney Miller Law, we recognise the threat climate change poses to the economy, nature and society at large. As a result, in November 2023, we announced that we had cemented our commitment to the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign by joining the SME Climate Hub.
As part of our commitment, we have pledged to reach the goals of 50% emissions reduction by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050 (we are on track for 2045). To achieve these goals and monitor our progress, we have produced a benchmark Carbon Footprint report covering April 2022 – March 2023, against which all future data will be measured on our journey to zero.
Where we are now
During the benchmark year as a firm, we emitted a total of 252 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent), the equivalent to 3.6 per full-time equivalent employee or nearly 193 flights from London to New York.
The benchmark report covers three ‘scopes’ or emission categories:
- Scope 1 – gas usage (6.07% of total)
- Scope 2 – electricity (12.43% of total)
- Scope three – purchased goods and services, waste generated in operations, and business travel (81.5% of total)
As part of our strategy to reduce this impact, we are focussing on prioritising four areas in advance of any offsetting commitments:
- Eliminate – all decisions made in the firm must consider options to eliminate carbon
- Reduce – we will use resources efficiently to reduce carbon
- Substitute – where appropriate, we will adopt low-carbon alternatives
- Compensate – where the above cannot be achieved, we will look to offset any unavoidable emissions
We have already successfully implemented a number of initiatives to reduce our carbon emissions as a firm, which will continue to contribute to our Net Zero strategy; these include:
- Engaging with a Sustainability Consultant to direct our strategy
- Installing LED lighting throughout both offices
- Reducing the amount we print and post, with the ultimate goal of becoming paperless
- Implementing a cycle-to-work scheme for colleagues
Where we are going
After reviewing our current carbon output, we were able to identify some areas in which we could make some substantial improvements, as well as securing some ‘quick wins’ in the following areas:
- Energy and fuels
- Purchased goods and services
- Business travel
We will work to actively encourage the entire workforce to engage with our commitment, understand the firm's current position, and work to find ways we can work together to reduce our water and energy consumption and achieve our goals. Where possible, we will review our utility contracts and choose renewable tariffs with the aim of 100% renewable electricity by 2028 and explore the option of solar energy at our new, more energy-efficient Sunderland office.
With regard to our commuting emissions, we are committing to understanding these in more depth over the next period and using the data to encourage colleagues to use greener transport options where possible. The option of implementing an electric vehicle salary sacrifice scheme will also be explored alongside the installation of EV charging ports.
We will engage with 80% of our existing suppliers to understand their 2030 carbon emissions predictions and work to ensure these align with our own.
Our team will receive carbon literacy training to ensure they appreciate how climate change will affect not just them but future generations and equip them with the skills to lower their individual carbon footprints.
Partner Damien Todd, who is leading the SME Climate Hub initiative, commented, “Sustainability is in our DNA; we are passionate and committed to understanding more about our impact on the environment and communities. As an SME, we have the benefit of being agile and able to adapt our existing practices to work towards our Net Zero goals. We have some distance to go, but we have now implemented a robust strategy. I am confident that, working with our team, clients, and suppliers, we can achieve – and even surpass – ahead of schedule."
Find out more
We want our staff, clients, partners, and suppliers to understand and support our commitment to Net Zero fully, so we will document our journey on our social media and web pages.
The firm aims to continue to provide an unrivalled service to its existing clients whilst also attracting new clients through its reputation for providing expert legal advice, outstanding service, and exceptional client care.