Zoe Leventhal KC chairing the Bar Sustainability Summit June 2023


On 16 June, the Bar Council hosted its first Bar Sustainability Summit for members of the Bar Sustainability Network. Zoë Leventhal KC, barrister at Matrix Chambers and member of the Bar Council Climate Crisis Working Group, chaired the event.

Here are Zoë's five key takeaways from the Summit:

  1. Every tonne of carbon removed from the atmosphere counts, as Estelle Dehon KC memorably said in her welcome speech. The challenges we face are huge and require us to think big and urgently about our role as professionals in responding to the climate emergency. But we can, and must, also take the smaller steps, often tackling the low hanging fruit, within our chambers – like switching to 100% renewable energy suppliers. Because every tonne counts.
  2. The Bar has particular cultural and logistical challenges: self-employed barristers without a corporate or clear management structure, relatively limited staff resource available to focus on net zero transition measures, working across various historic buildings in the Inns of Court, budgetary pressures on small/medium sized businesses. But our strength to make change lies in working together – with collective action and collective buying power, and collaborative solutions – many of which were discussed at the Summit.
  3. The net zero transition and climate conscious practice are pressing business issues for us, not just moral ones. We heard how our clients are increasingly starting to treat the Bar as part of their supply chain and will be expecting us to demonstrate our sustainability credentials if we want to remain credible. Equally, law students are increasingly scrutinising chambers’ and law firms’ practices with the climate emergency in mind – none of us professionally can afford to ignore this.
  4. The inspiration of the day came from Marie Brousseau-Navarro from the Future Generations Commission in Wales when she reminded us of our responsibility to the future generations of our planet. She gave us an insight into the Welsh model which puts “regenerative and sustainable practice” at the heart of government. The net zero transition is one piece of a wider jigsaw, linked to our wellbeing, our relationship with each other and with nature and, critically, our responsibility to our children and their children.
  5. Where do we go from here? The Summit successfully brought together representatives of more than 30 chambers, as well as different organisations such as the Law Society, Middle and Inner Temples, and other experts, in a room to talk about the issues, and explore the bigger questions about climate conscious practice and ‘Lawyered emissions.’ Let’s use this as a springboard for action – so please join the Bar Sustainability Network if you haven’t already, spread the word to other chambers, and let us know your feedback and what practical steps you all think we should take next. We will be working on this urgently too, alongside the work of the Bar Council’s Climate Crisis Working Group, co-chaired by Ben Cooper KC and Estelle Dehon KC. Huge thanks go to all involved in making the first Summit such a success, and particular thanks to each and every one of the attendees for their time, engagement, honesty and willingness to be part of the solution.

Find out more about the Bar Sustainability Network and sign up your chambers via the Bar Council website.

And for more inspiration and information, read Why barristers should care about the climate by Ben Cooper KC and Estelle Dehon KC, co-chairs of the Bar Council Climate Crisis Working Group.



Delegates taking part in discussion at the Bar Sustainability Summit June 2023