The issues of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel dependence are now permanent fixtures on the public agenda. As a result, a patchwork of state, regional and federal initiatives, supported by strong public and political demand, are creating new "clean energy" and "green" standards for industry and construction. By leveraging its talents in a myriad of legal disciplines, Stroock's Climate Change Practice Group advises businesses seeking to navigate the maze of new laws and regulations and to capitalize on emerging opportunities.
The risk management characteristics associated with greenhouse gas issues distinguish Stroock's Climate Change Practice Group from traditional stand-alone environmental and energy law practices. Indeed, Stroock's experience with the commodities, insurance, real estate and financial industries enables the firm to approach climate change from a unique – and more acute – angle. Moreover, Stroock's governmental experience and deep relationships with decision makers helps clients manage the regulatory process that often stymies results.
The following explains Stroock's interdisciplinary approach to resolving climate change matters for clients in practical ways:
Energy: Because of their heavy fossil fuel requirements, energy firms are among the companies most impacted by new climate change and greenhouse gas regulation. As the states and federal government continue to mandate renewable energy requirements and greenhouse gas reductions, Stroock's Climate Change lawyers advise energy firms of all sizes as they face greater environmental, regulatory, financial, competitive and reputational risks. Whether guiding clients through the regulatory and legislative process, inventorying and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, complying with new standards, or responding to enforcement or investigative inquiries, Stroock's Climate Change lawyers are adept at handling the full range of climate change issues affecting energy companies.
Environment: Stroock's Environmental lawyers are a vital part of the firm's Climate Change Practice. They have extensive experience in those areas typically important to the development of industrial, commercial and residential projects, such as notable expertise in federal, state and city environmental impact review and permitting processes, but also an in-depth understanding of community dynamics and the emerging and interrelated issues of climate change, environmental justice and green investment. Stroock's Environmental lawyers have been nationally recognized for their work on climate change and carbon matters, and work closely with Stroock's major business, financial and investment clients to assess opportunities in renewable energy and clean technologies. One Stroock Environment and Energy lawyer sits on Mayor Bloomberg's Energy and Policy Task Force and worked on New York City's Sustainability Plan, PlaNYC 2030.
Real Estate: With developers confronting new "green" standards, the cost of doing business is constantly changing. Stroock's Climate Change lawyers advise on a myriad of project types, from receiving government financing or tax credits to resolving compliance and permitting issues to redeveloping brownfields. New green building codes and financial incentives, added to the explosion in the acceptance of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, is transforming the building and construction industry. Stroock's Climate Change lawyers understand how these changes affect the long-term viability of a development. Opportunities in energy efficiency and high performance building technologies not only save operating costs but also increase the intrinsic value of property. With respect to commercial leasing, Stroock has a nationally recognized expert in the newly emerging area of "green" leasing. Finally, with respect to Coops and Condos, "green marketing" issues are emerging. One prominent Stroock lawyer "wrote the book" on environmental claims in advertising.
Carbon Due Diligence: Stroock's Climate Change Practice is now fully integrated with the firm's nationally known practices in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, private equity and venture capital. Knowledge of climate change issues is imperative for any such transactions and investments in the energy or "green tech" space. Stroock advises its business, financial and investment clients regarding the potential opportunities and risks associated with future carbon regulations. To assist in its evaluations, Stroock regularly publishes a "Guide to Greenhouse Gas Regulation," which is a comprehensive review of all local, state and federal legislation, regulation and policies which will impact many sectors of the economy. Stroock believes that whether a company is buying, selling, financing, investing, or simply staying current in an increasingly complex carbon-constrained business environment, proper carbon due diligence will be a critical factor in assuring business success and long-term economic viability.
Infrastructure and Project Finance: Stroock represents the full spectrum of participants engaged in infrastructure projects and project finance transactions, particularly in the energy and real estate development areas. Climate change and carbon emissions have become a significant concern for lenders and investors as they evaluate the short-term and long-term returns on investment. Several major banks developed "Carbon Principles" for an enhanced due diligence process to evaluate and address carbon risks in the financing of electric power projects. This has spread to lending in other sectors, particularly transportation and real estate. Stroock's Climate Change Practice embraces these concerns in helping secure financing.
Derivatives and Commodities: In December 2006, the International Swaps and Dealers Association announced it was creating a Master Trading Agreement to account for emissions transactions. Stroock lawyers assisted in the drafting of this master agreement. While a federal "cap-and-trade" program is not likely in the near future, regional and state slowly march forward to follow the international carbon market. Carbon related products such as CO2-e credits, RECs and SRECS have become commodities, like electricity and natural gas. Companies seeking to trade emissions products now look to Stroock's Climate Change lawyers knowing they will benefit from Stroock's long-standing status as a market leader in derivatives and commodities. In addition, Stroock lawyers, recognized for their depth of their expertise by Chambers Global, understand the intricacies of the new and emerging rules under Dodd-Frank.
Corporate: Private equity firms have been pooling capital to invest in sizeable projects that lower emissions or generate greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Stroock's Climate Change lawyers assist these firms with "green space" investment and acquisition opportunities. They advise public companies seeking to comply with climate change disclosures now required by the SEC and corporate codes of social responsibility.
Insurance: As legislation mandates abatement of greenhouse gases, new risk management structures are emerging. Stroock's Climate Change lawyers work with the firm's Insurance team to create and evaluate products that mitigate the risk of projects going awry and to enable clients to protect themselves financially.
Intellectual Property: As companies move to create "green" products, Stroock's Climate Change lawyers assist clients in securing patent, copyright and trademark protection for new technologies and goods, as well as systems to manage and track carbon emissions. Stroock's lawyers have won some of the largest patent infringement lawsuits in the country.
Litigation: Current regulatory uncertainty with respect to standards governing greenhouse gases and climate change will invariably lead to disputes among industries and with government. Stroock's Climate Change litigators are expert in lawsuits concerning regulatory actions and business disputes involving climate change issues. Moreover, as companies find themselves targeted by government or private plaintiffs, Stroock's Climate Change litigators are experienced at defending against allegations that companies have violated regulatory standards, whether they be through enforcement actions or class action proceedings. Stroock has particular expertise in commodities litigation, an invaluable tool as carbon markets grow and regulations tighten.