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Law Firm Goes Green

Media Release 5 December 2007


Lowndes Associates The First Carbonzerocert Tm Certified
Law Firm In New Zealand

New Zealand has its first carboNZeroCert TM certified law firm, and Lowndes Associates intends its new carbon neutral status to exemplify how local businesses can match the standard being set internationally.

A recent UN report found New Zealand’s per capita emissions to be among the highest in the developed world, stating that while other countries are dramatically reducing their output, New Zealand’s increased by 25 percent between 1990 and 2005.

Partner Mark Lowndes said Lowndes Associates was prompted to act by similar reports and because of knowledge gleaned through working in international legal networks such as Multilaw, of which Lowndes Associates is the only appointed New Zealand member.

Mr Lowndes said evidence that companies need to act could not be ignored. “Our firm’s decision to be carbon neutral is not just for the ‘feel good’ factor.”

“Climate change is a widely accepted problem, and it has rapidly become a current business issue. Consumers are becoming more demanding of their suppliers. In the UK, the media have reported that the leading supermarket Tesco is planning to give all products a carbon calorie rating to aid customer choice, and that Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer in the world, has pledged to bar all products that contribute to global warming from its shelves.

“When the biggest companies globally are instituting such measures, we need to take heed – New Zealand companies face a real risk of being left behind, and losing business to overseas companies, unless we take decisive action.

“We’re significantly behind our international counterparts in reducing emissions. Businesses need to take responsibility for their own activity, both to preserve New Zealand’s environment and to remain competitive in a global market.

“The benefits of carbon neutrality are multiple: businesses can make substantial cost savings through more efficient practices, and there is extensive evidence from overseas that it gives a serious competitive advantage by improving brand loyalty and increasing market share, because consumers are gravitating towards brands that demonstrate sustainability.

Indeed, Tim Fraser, Climate Change Specialist for Meridian Energy, confirmed his company had seen an increase in customer numbers as a direct result of achieving carboNZeroCert TM certification.

Mr Lowndes also noted that businesses which voluntarily go carbon neutral before legislation is introduced will find the statutory process easier to understand and potentially less expensive.

“There is also the bonus in a tight labour market of increased employee retention rates, because people like to work for businesses that act as leaders and good corporate citizens. As a law firm we’re focused on attracting and retaining the best talent, and this strategy is important for that. Young lawyers think about these sorts of issues. Our staff have been very enthusiastic about our move.”

In line with the trend among law firms internationally, and to meet the needs of clients affected by climate change issues, Lowndes Associates has established a specialist practice group, led by Andrew Fawcett, a Principal of the firm, and Solicitor Len Ward.

Mr Fawcett has specialist experience in advising industries on regulatory issues. Mr Ward brings unique experience to the practice, having previously served as CEO of the New Zealand Futures & Options Exchange and held Chief Executive and Director positions in the local electricity industry.

The firm’s specialist team is collaborating with its Multilaw colleagues to draw on international experience. The team assists clients’ understanding of the government’s emissions trading scheme and the emerging voluntary market for carbon trading; helps clients understand the risk and opportunities associated with climate change and carbon trading issues; and develops commercial contracts that adequately reflect climate change imperatives of clients and their business partners.

Mr Lowndes said proposed new carbon trading and climate change laws meant potential increased costs and liabilities for business. “But they also create new opportunities. Our team’s advice draws on the expertise and experience of Multilaw specialists from 16 countries where climate change issues are further advanced that they are in New Zealand. This is a huge advantage to us and our clients.”

Landcare Research, which issued the carboNZeroCert TM certification, ensured that Lowndes Associates measured its emissions and had established energy-efficient practices. Lowndes Associates has also implemented a strategy to continue to improve efficiency. carboNZeroCert TM certification is valid for one year, with annual audits required for the firm to maintain its carbon neutral status.

Professor Ann Smith, Technical Manager of the carboNZeroCert TM programme, said, “Although Lowndes Associates’ carbon footprint is relatively small, their influence could be very large. We need corporates to act as leaders and set an example, and Lowndes is showing that businesses can, and should, work to make a difference.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers, provided assurance that Lowndes Associates had met the requirements of the carboNZeroCert TM programme. Raechel Cummins, Director of the Climate Change Services Team said, “We congratulate Lowndes Associates on their achievement. They clearly recognise the effects of climate change and the benefits of becoming a carboNZero certified company. We look forward to seeing more businesses follow suit.”

The carboNZeroCert TM programme focuses on measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use, then offsetting any remaining unavoidable emissions by purchasing carbon credits from verified projects that sink, reduce or avoid emissions.

ENDS

About Lowndes Associates

Lowndes Associates is a leading corporate and commercial law firm with a strong New Zealand and international practice.
The firm offers clients a network of trusted associates around the world. Lowndes Associates is the sole representative in New Zealand of Multilaw and Legalink, two of the world’s largest international networks of law firms.

In the 2007 New Zealand Law Awards announced on 8 November, Lowndes Associates was:

- Winner of the 2007 Litigation and Dispute Resolution Law Award,
- First Runner-up in the Intellectual Property Law Award; and
- Second Runner-up in the Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award.

The firm comprises carefully selected teams of industry-leading specialists. Together they reinforce the firm’s reputation as a law firm with a strong sense of commerce. Lowndes Associates prides itself on its ability to integrate specialist input from different areas of the law into seamless advice focused on what matters - the commercial outcome. Many of the firm’s lawyers have second degrees in business and management, and have qualifications and major international firm experience, including in Asia, Europe, the United States, the UK and Australia.

ENDS


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