Support for private and public sector to tackle climate change

Panorama of Grangemouth petrochemical works by gbs097, Canva
Alan Robertson

The University of Strathclyde’s first-ever social enterprise spin-out company – C2LI – aims to tackle global warming by helping private and public sector organisations understand and adhere to climate change-related law.

C2LI – Climate Change Legal Initiative – has created the Climate Change Litigation Knowledge Hub. The searchable open-access online platform takes complex climate change litigation cases ordinarily confined to books, academic material and court documents, and translates them into short, plain language summaries, making them accessible to all.

By increasing knowledge and understanding of these cases and climate related legal developments C2LI seeks to support organisations’ strategic decision-making and ensure legislation designed to protect the environment, drive sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is adhered to.

Established by Dr Kate McKenzie, Dr Francesco Sindico and Amelia Burnette, of the University’s School of Law, as a Community Interest Company, C2LI is fully asset-locked, which ensures that profits or assets are not distributed outside of the company. Instead, all profits are re-invested back into supporting the company’s social and environmental vision.

Dr McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer of C2LI, said: “Climate change is impacting every area of life, and every area of law and we are in a critical decade to take decisive action. To get to where we need to be – keeping global warming down – the law is a really powerful tool to get us there.

“Anyone who wants to do business in this world needs to stay on top of climate change law.

“For example, a company opening a new business in a new country might not possess legal expertise in that jurisdiction and have little knowledge of historical climate related litigation or upcoming legislation that might affect its operations or compliance. We can provide that expertise and help ensure the company follows the law thereby reducing its insurance risk and also taking climate positive actions.”

The Knowledge Hub covers 30 countries, with the help of a global network of legal experts, but the team aims to add 20 more this year and to have global coverage within five years. Their focus is on countries that do not see a lot of climate litigation cases raised, which may indicate legal or political barriers.

Dr McKenzie said: “It has taken us the better part of four or five years to get to 30 countries. It’s time and resource intensive work, and we also ultimately want the information to be provided in the five official United Nations languages.”

The company estimates it needs an additional £3-5M of funding to achieve this goal.

Some of this funding will come from revenue-generating services which will see the company offer bespoke legal research and analysis for clients on climate related legal questions, training and upskilling on climate law and related litigation, and participate in larger funded research projects on climate law.

Strathclyde has supported C2LI with £40,000 in funding to engage an experienced Commercial Champion and support the development of its business plan to demonstrate that the use of the service is viable and sustainable.

Support for C2LI as a Community Interest Company has been provided by specialist social enterprise support providers including Community Enterprise in Scotland  – the UK’s largest social enterprise support agency; Challenges Group – Scotland’s leading international social enterprise consultancy: and the commercial law firm, Morton Fraser MacRoberts LLP MacRoberts.

Gillian Docherty OBE, Chief Commercial Officer at Strathclyde, said: “C2LI is the first social enterprise spinout that the University has invested in and has set out to ensure climate change laws designed to ensure public and private organisations play their part in addressing global warming and environmental sustainability are followed.

“This is useful learning in action and an activity that could have a real and tangible effect in addressing the climate emergency. We are delighted to support C2LI in its mission.”