Posted 22nd Mar, 2021
The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators London Branch (CIArb London) and the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) held a joint webinar on 18 February 2021.
A panel representing ADR neutrals, practitioners, researchers, and appointing bodies put the lie to Kermit the Frog’s oft quoted complaint that it’s not easy being green’. Instead, the environmental impact of international arbitration can be reduced by a joint effort to modify behaviours to reduce waste, re-use resources and recycle.
The scene was set by independent arbitrator Lucy Greenwood C.Arb FCIArb, founder of the Campaign for Greener Arbitrations. Lucy described her conversion from working in gas-guzzling Texas to initiating the Green Pledge for Arbitration, with the startling fact that the average international arbitration produces the carbon equivalent of 21 thousand trees. The most obvious excesses are unnecessary international flights and superfluous bundles. Both can be readily reduced by the use of video tech and electronic bundles. These sentiments were echoed by Dr Anna Howard a researcher in mediation at Queen Mary University, London and promoter of the Green Pledge for Mediation.
Michelle Bradfield, a partner with Jones Day, London and member of the Steering Committee for the Campaign for Greener Arbitrations identified the need for clear objectives which can be adopted throughout any law firm, including reducing energy consumption and paper use.
Jamie Harrison, Deputy Director General of the LCIA recognised the impact of the move to virtual hearings, but pointed out that the LCIA had an obligation to manage its operations in a sustainable way, irrespective of the actions of the parties. The LCIA does not have a hearing centre, so is limited in what it can achieve, but it has banished single use plastic and signed up for the cycle to work scheme. It hopes its move to a more energy efficient building will also demonstrate its desire to lead by example.
Mia Forbes Pirie, a mediator and facilitator, prompted by the realisation that ‘it’s the environment, stupid’ moved from law to science to advise international organisations on developing energy efficient strategies. Mia emphasised that extravagant waste does not, by definition, contribute to anything, while recognising the need for the ‘buy in’ for these initiatives to come from the leaders.
CIArb London’s Vice-Chair, Nicholas Stewart QC FCIArb moderated a wide-ranging discussion prompted by the Q&A, during which the panel highlighted the following points.
The discussion, which included the thought-provoking idea that dispute avoidance, at its most basic, might be good for the planet, concluded with a call to arms – do not underestimate what a group of like-minded, dedicated individuals can achieve. Brighten up, Kermit, it might not be so hard to be green, after all.
KIM FRANKLIN QC C.Arb FCIArb
Crown Office Chambers