Climate change has been growing in importance for law firms in recent years as clients seek advice on how to mitigate risks and maximize opportunities within a carbon-constrained economy. As businesses have become more sophisticated in their dealings with the carbon market, so too have the range of carbon products that are on offer — carbon structuring and hedging arrangements have continued to evolve, insurance and reinsurance products specific to carbon and climate change risk have been developed, and banks and hedge funds have continued to grow their dedicated carbon trading teams.

The complexities of the carbon market demand a broad range of skills from lawyers. Whereas, in the early days, climate change issues typically fell within the advisory realm of environmental lawyers, a new breed of carbon markets lawyer is evolving — more akin to a multidisciplined cross-departmental specialist, advising on a wide range of carbon legal issues including public international law, corporate, derivatives, financial services, tax, voluntary offsetting as well as general policy advice. Typically, those firms with a wide international spread have prospered most. However, with the wide-ranging proposals in the U.K.’s Climate Change Bill, domestic opportunities will also present themselves. For example, even mainstream real estate lawyers are now advising on climate change-related issues, including the impact on the carbon reduction commitment and energy performance certificates on landlords and tenants.

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