Climate change, sustainability & ESG

Understanding the impact of environmental, social and governance factors on business

Climate change and sustainability are critical legal and business issues across all sectors of the economy. As market leaders on climate change law and climate risk, we provide a depth of experience across all aspects of sustainability and ESG.

We understand that for most organisations climate change presents a material commercial risk and we regularly advise boards of directors and executive teams on climate-related regulatory changes, including the Emissions Reduction Plan, New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the incoming climate-related financial disclosures regime.

Our team also has international experience advising on sensitive human rights and business risks, including supply chain and modern slavery risk management. See our Human rights & responsible business page to learn more about our expertise in this area.

Jurisdictions around the world are setting out sustainable finance roadmaps that realign their regulatory and financial policies to enable the financial system to contribute to, rather than hinder, the transition to a low emissions economy.

We are proud to have assisted with landmark transactions including the first green bond in New Zealand, the first New Zealand sustainability bonds, the first New Zealand offers into offshore markets, and New Zealand’s first sustainability-linked loan.

Our finance, financial services and ESG experts closely work together to advise on:

  • governance of responsible investment legal risk
  • development and renewal of responsible investment, sustainable investment and ESG policies
  • advice on incoming mandatory climate-related financial risk reporting for listed issuers, banks, insurers and fund managers
  • compliance with FMA disclosure requirements.

Chapman Tripp is the sole New Zealand law firm to have joined the international Net Zero Lawyers Alliance and provided pro bono legal support to the development of New Zealand’s Investment Management Stewardship Code. In 2022 we were ranked in the inaugural Legal 500 Green Guide Asia Pacific.

Read more about our expertise in Sustainable finance and Impact investing.

Our influential climate change legal experts provide advice for climate‑related risk and opportunities including:

  • directors’ and officers’ legal duties and obligations to manage and disclose climate risk
  • policy reform and regulatory requirements – ETS, Climate Change Response Act, climate risk disclosure
  • emissions trading issues, contracting and disputes
  • mitigating reputational risks
  • maximising climate change-related advantages, including advising on emissions offsetting programmes, sustainability claims and marketing, green bonds and ESG financial instruments
  • managing ESG disclosure
  • global and domestic climate change litigation
  • international climate change law (UNFCCC and Paris Agreement)
  • responsible investment.

Read our Climate Change, Sustainability & ESG Capability Statement

  • Acting for Fonterra, Z Energy and Dairy Holdings in the first climate change litigation targeting corporate defendants for responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Advising numerous clients, including listed issuers, financial institutions, investment managers, and government entities, with the implications of regulatory requirements to report climate-related financial risk.
  • Advising the boards of major Australasian financial institutions and insurers on climate risk and the implications of global climate change litigation.
  • Advising on ESG policies, responsible investment policies, and human rights policies for diverse clients including fund managers and major exporters.
  • Authoring the New Zealand legal opinions on legal duties of directors, fund managers and trustees to consider climate change in decision making on the instructions of The Aotearoa Circle. See our 2019 legal opinion and 2021 legal opinion.
  • Advising on New Zealand and overseas contracts for the sale and purchase of emissions units and contract disputes.
  • Advising New Zealand and overseas issuers of green bonds, including advising on New Zealand’s first green bond.
  • Advising listed issuers on mandatory and voluntary emission reporting obligations and annual report disclosure statements under EU and UK law.
  • Advising a Crown entity on disclosure obligations regarding its climate-related investments.
  • Assisting a number of directly and indirectly affected firms with submissions on and implications of the Zero Carbon Bill and ETS reform including those in the primary industries, electricity generation, energy distribution, and industrial manufacturing sectors.
  • Helping developers of large projects (including industrial facilities and infrastructure assets) manage the consenting implications resulting from direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, and/or harnessing consenting benefits from avoided emissions.

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