What does Net Zero mean?

Net Zero means achieving a balance between the amount of carbon emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

In 2019 the UK government became the first major economy in the world to make a legally binding commitment to set a “Net Zero target” for carbon emissions by 2050.

Our Net Zero glossary of terms gives more detailed explanations on the topic and what the firm is doing, and has done for clients.

Who will be affected by Net Zero?

Everyone will be affected. Net Zero will be the single biggest UK policy and legal driver over the next decades. It will impact any public or private entity present, operating in or wanting to do business in the UK, as well as every UK resident.

How can we help?

This scale of change required is huge and we want to help our clients rise to the challenge and benefit from the opportunities to capitalise on the technology, projects and investment that will flow into organisations addressing climate change.

Our multi-sector teams deliver Net Zero legal solutions through market-leading expertise and experience in the key sectors that will need to come together to decarbonise including: Transport, energy, land & food, and the built environment. With in-depth knowledge of the regulation across the four key sectors, we are able to facilitate cross-sector discussions and are uniquely positioned to advise on the policies, regulation, strategies and projects that will need to be developed and implemented by the private and public sector.

We have established networks and strong relationships with leading industry bodies and organisations, allowing us to bring specialists together to deliver Net Zero legal solutions and put you in touch with the right people who can help your business.

We pride ourselves on our Net Zero work making a real difference to enable communities, economies and the environment to flourish.  

What we do

Our expertise in net zero legal services across our specialist sectors includes the following:

Our partnerships

We are well connected and sit on key industry groups ensuring that we have up to date knowledge of these sectors and the regulation around them. We participate in a number of bodies including:

We are committed and invested

Respect for the environment is integral to our responsible business commitments and part of stakeholder expectations, with our people and our clients.

We are passionate about a Net Zero future, and are advocates for positive action and collaboration to make this a reality. We have pledged to make our own business net zero* by the end of 2026. We are partners with conservation charity Trees for Life and also one of the founding members of the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance.

We have also made set our Business Ambition for 1.5oC with the Science Based Targets Initiative

Key elements of our Net Zero approach:

  • We are committed to an approach of emissions reduction first, use of renewables second and use of offsets as the last resort.
  • We have expanded our knowledge of indirect scope 3 emissions through our determination of science based targets which have been submitted to the Science Based Targets Initiative.
  • We are working towards a 50% reduction in emissions across all 3 scopes by 2030 against a 2019 baseline - this is overseen by our Environment Committee and enabled as part of our ISO 14001 accredited environment management system.  

Our work

Take a look at our Net Zero case studies to see the impact our work is having.

For more information about our market-leading service please contact Ross Fairley.


* ‘Net Zero’ means that total emissions are equal to or less than the emissions we remove from the environment. This can be achieved by a combination of emission reduction and removal by offsetting. Emissions can be removed or absorbed by natural processes such as tree planting or by using technologies like carbon capture. We are on target to achieve our Net Zero target date on this basis. We recognise that the definition of Net Zero and pace of change required to meet the climate challenge will evolve and we will keep all of our targets under review.

Source: Net zero emissions: A new UK climate change target? (parliament.uk) dated: 19 Oct 2018


Decarbonised Energy

  • Advising Blue Gem Wind on all aspects of its 96MW floating wind demonstration project, Erebus.

  • Advising Bristol City Council in respect of the City Leap Energy Partnership, a transformative and innovative project to procure a strategic partner to develop, construct and own a number of energy and infrastructure opportunities to facilitate the council’s ambition of Bristol being a carbon neutral city by 2030.

  • Advising Progressive Energy and Cadent on the flagship Hynet North West Carbon Capture and Storage and hydrogen cluster project in relation to CO2 aspects and pipelines as well as other participants in all Government led CCUS commercialisation competitions to date

  • Principal legal adviser to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, assisting it with its mission to research and develop fusion energy and associated technologies.

  • Advising M&S on the award winning community energy scheme, M&S Energy Society, which involves the purchase by M&S of renewable electricity generated by solar panels installed on its stores across the UK, with the generating infrastructure being financed by members of community energy organisation Energy4All

  • Advising the developer of a plant which will convert local NHS hospital clinical waste into clean energy

  • Advising developers, local authorities, funders and customers on low carbon heat networks and solutions

  • Advising a global private equity investor on the regulation of F-gas and the potential regulatory environment for refrigerant gases in a low-GHG-emission future

  • Advising a large wealth management fund on mandatory carbon reporting and regulatory compliance

  • Acting for one of the UK's largest retailers to establish a purchasing agreement for the trading of green gas certificates.

Decarbonised Transport

  • Advising numerous waste to fuel developers and alternative fuel suppliers on all aspects of their businesses, including the end of waste regime and the GB low carbon fuel regimes including the renewable transport fuel obligation.

  • Advising the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles on the design and delivery of the Rapid Charging Fund Advising ESB on the roll out of Electric Vehicle infrastructure across Birmingham.

  • Advising Octopus Group on funding EV Jaguar I-PACE vehicles at Heathrow Airport and advising on an innovative finance option for ‘pay as you drive electric taxi solution’.

  • Advising the Mayor of London’s Energy Efficiency Fund, managed by Amber Fund Management Limited, in connection with a loan to a leading London taxi fleet to fund 30 LEVC TX vehicles the flexible pay-per-mile mechanism managed by Zeti Limited.

  • Advising FirstGroup on a number of Electric Bus and charging infrastructure projects, including the financing arrangements for its fleet of electric buses.

  • Advising Great Western Railway on the contracts required for the trial of a battery-powered train.

  • Advising clients such as FirstGroup, Octopus, Statkraft, ESB, Moixa, Gravis and Zenobe in relation to matters including EV, hydrogen, compressed natural gas and green gas charging and refuelling infrastructure, waste fuels, alternative powered trains and electric and green gas powered buses.

  • Advising a UK transport operator on its framework arrangements (manufacturing supply agreements) for the procurement of hydrogen buses.

Decarbonised Land and Food

  • Advising various vertical farming developers on all aspects of their projects, including financing, construction and operation, intellectual property, real estate, heat and electricity contracts and retail and wholesale contracts

  • Advising industry leading clients on tree planting and carbon offset schemes in England, Wales and Scotland.

  • Advising landowners on management agreements with Natural England on the restoration of carbon-sink protected habitats.

Decarbonised Built Environment

  • Advising a mixed use developer on the development of a new 2000 home community. The project is intended to be one of the lowest carbon mixed use developments of its size in the UK, and will involve using a number of innovative technologies and community energy solutions, including onsite renewable energy generation and smart homes which incorporate battery and solar PV solutions.

  • Advising various entrepreneurial companies looking to solve the energy trilemma at a domestic level, with a focus on providing solutions for those in fuel poverty.

  • Advising the Department of Energy and Climate Change on the Green Deal and its ECO brokerage platform.

  • Advising clients such as Water Companies, Universities, NHS Trusts, Institutional Landlords and facilities managers on energy efficiency projects

  • Advising an energy developer on the legal structuring of a domestic rooftop solar, battery storage, EV charging and air source heat pump product to facilitate energy efficiency in domestic properties.

  • Advising a developer of large-scale industrial and distribution facilities on an energy centre product combining rooftop solar and a CHP plant to provide low-carbon energy for major distribution warehouse developments.

  • The leading advisor in the context of Design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) and Modern methods of construction (MMC), each of which have the potential to allow built environment owners and investors to track and reduce embodied carbon and lifecycle carbon.

Meet the team
Ross Fairley

Ross Fairley Partner

  • Energy and Utilities
  • Head of Renewable Energy
  • Environment
Brioney Thomas

Brioney Thomas Partner

  • Head of Transport
  • Asset Finance and Asset Backed Lending
  • Commercial

Suzanne Padmore Partner

  • Pensions Disputes
  • Professional Negligence
  • Financial services Disputes and Enforcement 
Ross Polkinghorne

Ross Polkinghorne Partner

  • Built Environment
  • Development and Regeneration
  • Infrastructure
Michael Barlow

Michael Barlow Partner

  • Head of Environment
  • Head of Water
  • Head of ESG
Emma Folkes

Emma Folkes Partner

  • Head of Rural Property
  • Estates and Land
  • Food and Farming
Will Woodall

Will Woodall Partner

  • Energy and Utilities
  • Infrastructure
  • Healthcare
Chris Jackson

Chris Jackson Partner

  • Infrastructure
  • Procurement and State Aid
  • Transport
Patrick Robinson

Patrick Robinson Consultant

  • Energy and Utilities
  • Infrastructure
  • Planning and Compulsory Purchase
Julian Boswall

Julian Boswall Partner

  • Energy and Utilities
  • Infrastructure
  • Planning and Compulsory Purchase
Lucy Pegler

Lucy Pegler Partner

  • Technology and Communications
  • Data Protection and Cybersecurity
  • Outsourcing
Tom Hewitt

Tom Hewitt Partner

  • Private Wealth
  • Head of Estates and Land
  • Head of Food and Farming
Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy Partner

  • Estates and Land
  • Private Wealth
  • Agricultural Disputes
Camilla Usher-Clark

Camilla Usher-Clark Partner

  • Corporate
  • Energy and Utilities
  • Co-operatives

The Net Zero Blog

Everything about Hydrogen podcast

Key contact

Ross Fairley

Ross Fairley Partner

  • Energy and Utilities
  • Head of Renewable Energy
  • Environment

Getting to Net Zero report: The potential for heat networks in our communities

View our Net Zero Energy Highlights 2023

Download your copy of Getting to Net Zero: Ensuring energy resilience for industrial and logistics

Download your copy of Getting to Net Zero: Consenting hydrogen projects

Download your copy of Getting to Net Zero: the role of rural land

The Net Zero Podcast

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