Schjødt has established a dedicated Sustainability Law Group, covering all legal aspects relating to sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG). We are in the forefront in Norway with respect to ESG and finance, and regularly assist clients on a variety of ESG matters.
Sustainability Law is a new field of law bridging public law and private and commercial law, dealing with enactments and rules promoting sustainability and laws having the potential effects of promoting substantiality or sanctioning activities detrimental thereto.
"Sustainability" may be generally defined as the task of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. An important part of Sustainability Law is to define the concept of sustainability in further details, and to address the various activities promotional or detrimental thereto.
By "Sustainability Laws" we wish to include both international treaties and national or supra-national laws. The introduction of this field of law now, in the spring of 2020, is meant to signify and acknowledge that we are facing an emerging field of new laws reflecting high regulatory ambitions, in particular in the European Union ("EU"). Environmental issues are high on the agenda, and in particular global, regional and local initiatives to combat climate changes. Acknowledging the connectivity of matters, Sustainability Law transgresses the more established Environmental Law focus on physical impacts on Nature, by including a wide range of economic activities in finance, technology and services having limited direct physical impact on the environment but potential for significant indirect effects. Significant legal tools are now directed not at the environmental base but at the ideological superstructure represented by international finance.
Sustainability Law is inter-disciplinary and transgressive also in its demand for sustainability to be integrated in all economic activities, bridging economics, science and legal perspectives on how to develop a green economy. Of particular importance is the EUs preference of a market-based and incentivising approach to a direct and prescriptive approach. This is reflected in the new Financial Action Plan and the older system of carbon taxation with tradeable decreasing permits (the "ETS"). This brings Sustainability Law deep into commercial law and commercial activities of relevance to most sectors of the economy. If successful, it may also give evidence to a market-based approach as more effective than a prescriptive mode of regulation.
Schjødt follows the legal development closely and assist clients on all types of legal matters relating to Sustainability Law. This includes e.g. ESG due diligence of companies in relation to M&A, preparation of internal routines, review and preparation of information material, misrepresentation and strategic advice with respect to future developments and classifications.