Fossil oil companies are paying millions of high-profile law firms to “avoid liability.”

The world’s largest corporate law firms have spent millions of dollars on fossil fuels, but as the climate crisis worsens, this work is under increasing scrutiny.

Over the past five years, the top 100 law firms in the United States have facilitated 1.36tn fossil fuel transactions, and in 358 legal cases have received $ 35 million in compensation for their work to support the fossil fuels industry on behalf of fossil fuels. “Climate Outcome Card” published in August

A third-year student and law student co-founder of Yale Law School, who co-authored the Criteria for Climate Accountability, said the size of the fossil fuels industry is huge. “When we started digging, we realized how universal this was. All that fossil fuel companies want to do, they need lawyers to do.

The fossil fuels rely heavily on lawyers to advise on projects, to lobby, to negotiate contracts, to protect licenses, and to investigate growing climate lawsuits. As climate warnings become more severe and the International Energy Agency’s new fossil fuel development is not in line with its zero-emission goal by 2050, the legal companies’ fossil fuel industry’s performance is up compared to last year’s scorecard.

The Climate Registration Card ranks companies based on “aggravating climate change”, support for fossil fuels, and on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.

Paul Weiss, one of the top 10 U.S. companies in the Valt law rankings, was one of 37 who received the lowest F rating. Over the past five years, the company has taken action against fossil fuels in 30 cases. One of the most famous was ExxonMobil, which represented the company in a historic attempt to mislead investors about the dangers of climate change to its business. The court ruled that He ruled Exx in 2019. Paul Weiss did not respond to a request for comment.

In October 2019, the New York County Court of Appeals ruled in favor of climate activists.
In October 2019, the New York County Court of Appeals ruled in favor of climate activists. Photograph – Justin Lane / E.P.

Only 12 law firms are rated A or B on the scoreboard, which means they have not worked for fossil fuels. Three companies – Coolie; Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; And Schulte Roth & Zabel: Actively respond to climate change by renewable energy transactions, lobby or climate dispute.

“We agree with the law that this is for the good of the nation,” said Hers Chel-Burns. But one thing we found amazing is that they are very, very big law firms [representing] The Wrong Side ”

Alisa Johl, legal director of the Climate Endurance Center, said there is a real human value. “Prominent law firms are representing high-profile lawyers on behalf of oil and gas companies,” he said. For justice-seeking communities across the country, the end result is delays and overcrowding by some of the country’s biggest law firms.

Climate accountability law students are calling on law firms to pledge support for a new fossil fuels industry, to end their current operations in 2025, and to boost their work for new energy industries and to deal with the crisis.

It can be a controversial issue in terms of the principle that everyone should have legal representation. But Herschel-Burns said that this principle is often “proven to be able to represent the highest paid legal entities in low-income areas.”

Some companies have accepted the choice. At a conference last year on the link between law and climate change, Cleron Owundend of Cleford Opportunity said: “We can choose what we support and what we don’t.” We must not be independent professional providers. ”

Law firms continue to develop fossil fuels, but they are also raising their own climate action. Sherman and Sterling and Hogan Loveves, a number of organizations that have scored F-ratings on the Climate Outcome Card, have signed up for the Net Zero Advocates Alliance, which began in July. Members pledged to work with customers to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and to include climate goals and drive “system change”. Neither company commented on the guard’s comments.

Another member of the coalition, Dilla Piper, aims to halve all emissions by 2030, including indirect emissions from the organization’s supply chain. The company has been appointed as the official legal provider for the upcoming Cop26 climate talks. But he only scored a D on the Climate Card and represented customers, including LLL, Exxon Mobile and BP. The organization declined to comment.

Tom Weather, professor of law and director of the Oxford Sustainable Law Program, one of the organizations supporting the union, said it may be difficult for organizations to take action in the right direction, but they still do not have the best practices. We have to move the whole sector, and for many companies involved, this is the beginning of the journey.

Some of the lower-ranking law firms on the Climate Card were eager to promote their green energy. According to the scorecard, Allen and Over, who has invested $ 125 billion in fossil fuels over the past five years, “do more renewable work than any other law firm in the world.” He said the card was “to the end or above” to provide advice on renewable finance, which involved a $ 123 billion fossil fuel transaction.

However, both companies, which have registered a F, have not responded to questions about how to deal with this on behalf of fossil fuels.

Lawyers have a responsibility to reflect on their role and to ask if their clients’ values ​​are in line with their own, Weather said. Organizations that actively participate in the net zero transition will be rewarded. Customers value their judgment and profession, high talent is easily attracted and retained, and these companies strengthen their social will to do their job.

The nonprofit environmental law, which makes the card a powerful tool, says lawjustice law firms are the best employees. “No one will think about professional decisions in the future because they are compatible with their climate.”

It’s too late now to discuss legal ethics and climate, Sankar. “The [fossil fuel] The industry is paying a lot of law firms to avoid responsibility and prevent regulatory reforms.

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