We interviewed our Partner Sarah Bray at ISOLAS LLP for more information on this achievement:
1. What is your role at ISOLAS?
I'm a Partner in the property department and lead partner on ESG initiatives.
2. Why have you taken on the lead role on ESG, why is it important to you?
Environmental issues and the climate crisis are a global concern. There is little point in doing business and 'carrying on as usual', if we run the risk of not having a home, office or planet to work from in the first place.
We have seen just how disruptive the Covid-19 pandemic has been. We have seen how the war in Ukraine can change people's lives forever- forcing millions to flee their homes and face a precarious future. This should be a lesson to us that everything we have can be lost in an instant. The increase in temperatures, driven by increased human emissions, can lead to flash floods, rising sea levels, drought, and the destruction of animal geographic ranges.
ESG efforts are not scaremongering; they are initiatives to bring people together for a common goal of a brighter future. For businesses, climate action can mean a financial investment, but the message is clear: climate inaction will be vastly more expensive.
3. When did ISOLAS start thinking about ESG and what are the drivers for doing so?
Every employee plays a part in the future of our planet- from the mode of transport chosen to get to work each day, to the number of business trips taken, electricity consumed, food choices, paper usage, stock purchases etc. As a firm, we recognise that our offices and our ways of working have an environmental impact. As a major player in the local community, we need to align our ethics and sustainability practices locally with what we want to see, and what we aspire to, globally.
Every action has a knock-on effect and we needed to start somewhere. Last year, we carried out a large-scale carbon footprint audit with an independent assessor, conducted in line with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's UNFCCC Climate Neutral Initiative and ISO 14064:2018, in order to assess what our firm's footprint was per year. The result of this was a catalyst to implement change.
We chose to achieve carbon neutrality with gold-standard global projects that create sustainable development benefits for communities around the world. This means supporting a wide range of initiatives into projects such as:
- renewable energy projects in India, which not only fund wind power and solar panels but also improve air quality there and help provide jobs in impoverished communities, as the projects require maintenance;
- rainforest and wildlife protection projects in South America; and
- reforestation initiatives run by the Eden Project in Madagascar.
We followed the 2022 UN Climate Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt last year and are following the Roadmap to COP28.
4. Where do you see ISOLAS making the biggest difference?
We are the first law firm in Gibraltar to achieve UN accreditation. We hope other law firms and businesses will follow our initiative.
We started small, some years ago- encouraging increased awareness in respect of single-use items and non-recyclable materials by providing reusable alternatives to staff members and clients. We switched from white paper notepads to recycled paper notepads, introduced sustainable water bottles, switched from ordering water bottles to having a central re-fill water point, updated our pens from plastic to bamboo equivalents and introduced plants and green areas in our offices.
Then we went a little bigger and we reduced the use of air conditioning and set a standard temperature for all offices when in use, put our lighting on sensors as part of our refurbishment, carried out firm-wide local beach clean-ups, sponsored the first Gibraltar Eco Festival and purchased carbon footprint offsets to neutralise our yearly carbon footprint.
We are excited by the variety of ideas we have for the year ahead. The most important thing is to reduce our carbon footprint and not simply offset it. We are taking steps to do this.
5. Why is the UN Climate Initiative important?
We need to take this seriously and the United Nations is a world-renowned organisation. The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he was determined to make 2023 a "year for action." Their practical solutions to a raft of pressing problems call on world leaders to step up, to include governments, business, and finance sectors.
The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) secretariat is the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change. It has near universal membership (198 parties) and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
6. Possible pitfalls and things to be aware of
As with anything and especially with emerging technologies, there is scope for abuse. There have been investigations into rainforest carbon offsets in the press recently, as there are organisations who claim to be certified as gold-standard and are not. However, when purchasing emission offsets, it is worth doing some research and choosing not only Gold Standard or Verra certified projects, but also ones that are rated by a third-party carbon intelligence platform.
7. What now?
For Isolas LLP to become a certified member of the UN's Climate Neutral Now Initiative has been a big step in the right direction. We are proud to be the first Gibraltar law firm to be listed on the UN's climate action register at Our participants | UNFCCCand hope that other law firms and businesses in Gibraltar will follow.