Environmental sustainability

At A&O Shearman, we have a responsibility as a leading global law firm to act in the best interests of our clients, our people and wider society. Being a diverse, inclusive and impactful firm, we aim to conduct our business in balance with the main global challenges represented by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

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Our vision 

Our goal is to be an integral part of sustainable development and the responsible transition to Net Zero by focusing on our direct and indirect operational impacts on climate, society and nature. 

We work together across our firm to identify and implement innovative solutions and projects that address our environmental impacts. We are facing the challenges of the climate and nature emergencies, while ensuring our actions do not harm vulnerable communities. 

We are continuously reviewing and improving the environmental performance of our own operations as well as that of our value chain.

Our targets 

In May 2021, Allen & Overy set certified science-based targets to halve our global direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 against the 2019 baseline. In 2025 we will re-baseline our emissions as A&O Shearman to extend our commitment. 

Our strategy and next steps 

We are committed to environmental sustainability as a core value and a strategic priority.  

We align our global goals and targets with the needs and opportunities of our diverse and dynamic network, and we empower our people to take local action and share best practice from every region.  

All our offices contribute to meeting our carbon reduction and environmental targets, and implementing operational management projects that make a difference. 

Our carbon reduction strategy focuses on five strategic areas, under the leadership of our Sustainability Governance Working Group. 

  • Data and reporting - improving our carbon data collection, accounting and reporting processes. 
  • Supply chain engagement - collaborating with our suppliers to reduce emissions from the most significant elements of our carbon footprint. 
  • Business travel - looking for more innovative ways to serve our clients while maintaining resilient and long-lasting relationships. 
  • Real estate - ensuring all our existing and future offices are sustainable through ongoing support, effective operational management, targeted certifications, strong design principles and contractual relationships with our landlords. 
  • Communications - building awareness, dialogue, and transparency across the business through direct communications and training. 

Our 2024 priorities 

Our 2024 environmental sustainability priorities are: 

  • Increased transparency through effective sustainability disclosure. 
  • Increased supplier engagement ratio. 
  • Carbon neutrality. 
  • Increased awareness of our nature-related impacts, risks and opportunities. 

Data and highlights 

Our progress against the emissions target between 2019 and 2022 is summarized below.

The environmental working groups support four out of ten of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 

  • SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy). 
  • SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). 
  • SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). 
  • SDG 13 (climate action). 

Our carbon footprint covers all relevant scopes and emissions categories. 

Our global performance for our most material metrics between 2019 and 2022 is summarized below.


Every year we offset all emissions traditionally associated with our operations, namely: 

  • scope 1 (e.g. fuel use, refrigerant losses, company vehicles), 
  • scope 2 (i.e. purchased electricity which is not 100% renewably sourced) 
  • scope 3 emission from water, waste and business travel 

Our latest offsetting projects are: 

  • REDD+ project for Caribbean Guatemala Conservation Coast in cooperation with the World Land Trust. 
  • Gula Gula food forest program. 
  • Unitor REDD+ project. 
  • Zhangye improved grassland management project. 

Certified environmental management systems 

Our approach is underpinned by our ISO 14001 (UK and Netherlands) certified environmental management systems. The scope of our management systems is: 

  • UK – The provision of buildings engineering, facilities management and front of house services at A&O Shearman in London and Belfast. 
  • Netherlands - The provision of business services in the areas of catering, cleaning, security, reception, document management and reproduction and building management at A&O Shearman in Amsterdam. 

We are also actively looking at expanding the coverage of our ISO 14001.