Climate change and sustainability dominated news headlines in 2019. Extinction Rebellion protests, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg leading climate strikes around the world, while the President of the US has labelled it all a ‘hoax’. Investors are, in turn, increasingly putting pressure on the world’s largest companies to respond. It has become an enormous area of risk management for every business sector.
And responsibility for managing and assessing that risk has increasingly fallen upon the general counsel (GC). Andrea Harris, group chief counsel at the world’s largest marketing and public relations company, WPP, in recent years took on the head of group sustainability role, as has Heathrow Airport GC Carol Hui. Lawyers at Specsavers sit on that company’s sustainability group to help shape policy, while the GC at FTSE 100 energy giant Centrica, Justine Campbell, identifies the area as one of the biggest challenges she faces.