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ESG, Climate and Social Responsibility

Arntzen de Besche advises clients within a wide range of legal services associated with climate, environment and sustainability work. Whether you are launching a new project, handling polluted ground, defending your enterprise against claims, challenging injunctions, appealing against climate violations, bringing climate, environment and sustainability issues before the court or trading in carbon, we can assist with advice, representation and solutions.

It is the advice we give our customers that is our main contribution to the environment. Our ambition is clear. We aim to be a driving force within climate, renewable energy and sustainability. Our goal harmonises well with assisting market leaders within climate, renewables and sustainability, but also companies that are currently not part of the solution but will have to adapt going forward. Our clients include leading companies within energy, transportation, insurance and aquaculture, as well as banks, agricultural cooperatives, car manufacturers/distributors, non-profit organisations and others. We also work with governments and trade associations to launch legislative initiatives or revise existing legislation.  

Our primary objective at Arntzen de Besche is for our company to inflict as little damage as possible on climate and the environment.

In the period from 2018 to 2019, we reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, and we are constantly working to improve this. We want to do more, and we have therefore purchased carbon credits from the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) fully compensating for our emissions – which makes us carbon neutral. 

We have set ourselves concrete goals:

As the only Norwegian law firm, Arntzen de Besche has produced a climate balance sheet (available on demand). The firm is a member of Skift – Business Climate Leaders and UN Global Compact. 

For more on our own climate and sustainability work at Arntzen de Besche, see here.

Area of Competence

RENEWABLE ENERGY AND CLIMATE LAW

Our renewability team works with legal issues and projects associated with renewable energy, be it water, wind, solar or wave power. For 10 years in a row, Arntzen de Besche has worked with Norwea on organising an autumn conference on Norwegian wind power. For more information, see here (Norwegian).

For more on our work within renewable energy and climate law, see here.

FINANCE REGULATIONS

Our team for finance regulations assists banks, insurance agencies and other financial undertakings, investment firms, asset management companies, estate agencies and debt collection firms etc. We also assist issuers, investors and other stakeholders. 

For more on our work within finance regulations, see here.

COMPLIANCE

The Arntzen de Besche compliance team assists with advice on e.g.: 

• Corporate governance

• Crisis management, whistle-blower cases etc.

• Social responsibility

• Investigations and internal audits

• International sanctions and trade restrictions (WTO, EU/EEA, bilateral investment agreements, trade agreements etc.)

• Anti-money laundering

• Compliance training

For more on our work within compliance, see here.

NON-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS

Arntzen de Besche assists a number of non-profit organisations in their continuous operations and activities. Our lawyers also assist these organisations in their interaction with the authorities and their contractual partners. 

One of our key client groups is companies conducting business operations while also promoting the public interest. 

We have framework agreements with several non-profit organisations, and in January 2020, on behalf of WWF, we successfully brought an action against the Government on the validity of an administrative decision.

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

For several years, Arntzen de Besche has worked on various environmental issues such as the decommissioning of refineries and oil installations, emissions and pollution, and clean-up requirements at various installations. 

Environmental considerations are increasingly regulated in business contracts, and we regularly assist in the drafting, interpretation and enforcement of environmental clauses. 

As advisors, we strive to advance the green shift by promoting ESG and environmentally friendly solutions. 

SOCIAL RIGHTS

Arntzen de Besche assists clients both in and outside of Norway. Safeguarding social rights and human rights is at the core of all our advice. 

Our department for oil, offshore and energy also assists governments and businesses in Africa, Asia and Latin-America on a regular basis. 

In our work on energy issues in Africa, Asia and Latin-America, one challenge is often to make sure that planning and implementation of energy projects do not take place to the detriment of local society or the indigenous population. Likewise, in those same countries, to reduce the risk of such projects negatively affecting health, safety or the environment. These are often countries with significant, uncovered energy needs, but without sufficient resources for government supervision – an unfortunate combination for the protection of social rights.

The same conflicts often arise as here in Norway: a proposal, such as a wind farm or a water power plant, considered a worthy environmental protection measure by some, appears an inconvenience to others who may be negatively affected by the project. This is sometimes euphemistically conveyed by the expression "Not in my backyard", but the unfortunate fact is that the legal protection against encroachment on the private sphere, found in Article 105 of the Norwegian Constitution, is absent in many of these countries.

In our work advising various African, Asian and Latin-American governments, we aim to recommend greater focus on safeguarding HSE and reinforcing human rights associated with energy projects, also renewable energy projects.

Selected stories

INVESTMENT IN RENEWABLES

The development of land-based wind power is meeting with political resistance, and the future of the oil and gas industry appears uncertain. This makes offshore wind power production seem like a kind of panacea. Norway has enormous offshore wind resources, we have developed world-leading competence on offshore operations, and the development of offshore wind could provide the Norwegian supplier industry with numerous commissions. Offshore wind has the added advantage of the installations being far from any human habitation. Offshore wind projects would therefore to a lesser degree clash with other interests. 

As of yet, it is unclear when offshore wind will become profitable, but here in Arntzen de Besche we see opportunities in the intersection between the petroleum industry and the production of offshore wind power. With our long experience advising the oil industry, we have a good understanding of the concession law framework for oil and gas, and we have special expertise within petroleum taxation. With the Offshore Energy Act (and associated regulations), there is now also a legal framework in place for the development of offshore wind power. This makes it possible to see opportunities and the connections between these industries. 

The petroleum industry has a high tax burden (78% tax) but this also means favourable rules for deductions and write-offs. Costs incurred in the petroleum industry can be deducted by 78% and is subject to special deduction rules and other special rules such as reimbursement of exploration costs. If an offshore wind project could receive start-up assistance from the Norwegian petroleum tax scheme, this would make it easier to get projects off the ground. 

The petroleum tax regime applies only to petroleum projects. An offshore wind project built to produce power for a regular power grid would therefore not qualify. We nevertheless follow with great interest the Hywind project, where Equinor oversees the construction of an offshore wind park that will provide power for the oil rigs at Snorre and Gullfaks. This will reduce the demand for gas power by around 30% on these platforms. Hywind is considered a part of the petroleum plants and is therefore built within the framework of the Petroleum Act and the petroleum tax regime. But once the project is up and running, there is no guarantee that Equinor and its partners will want to maintain ownership and operation of the plants. For many investors it could be appealing to own and operate such an offshore wind farm. It is also conceivable that similar offshore wind farms will be constructed at other oilfields. Equinor's goal of reducing its CO2 emissions to near 0 within 2050 could help stimulate the development of offshore wind power. Here at Arntzen de Besche we understand the framework for both of these industries, and we can be a helpful partner for those looking to develop, operate or invest in offshore wind in Norway.

FINANCIAL SECTOR – FINANCIAL REGULATION

The Norwegian financial sector is in constant growth and has important social responsibilities – more important than ever as a key sector for achieving sustainability goals and national, regional and international goals for 2030 and 2050. Fortunately, ESG seems to be the main trend of 2020. We maintain a particularly strong focus on this ourselves and will devote a great part of our resources to contribute to a better understanding of soft law and future regulatory requirements meant to promote a low-emission society and goals for sustainability.

Arntzen de Besche offers marked-leading legal advice for the financial sector. We have assisted in some of the largest and most complex projects in the financial market and offer continuous advice on all questions associated with financial markets and the financial sector.

We customise a team suitable for each client's needs, and cooperate seamlessly with our colleagues on technology, privacy, taxes, competition law and transactions. Our goal is to always deliver legal and strategic advice in a practical, effective and understandable manner.

Our lawyers have won prestigious international awards as Norway's leading experts on financial regulation.

Several of our lawyers have previously worked for banks, financial institutions and regulatory authorities, and have authored key specialist literature within the field.

Our experience includes establishment of companies under license, cross-border service provision, acquisition of ownership interests in financial institutions (structural conditions), transactions and reorganisations, distribution, implementation of new regulations, corporate matters, capital adequacy issues and regulatory capital, covered bonds (CB), trade in financial instruments and payment transmission services. 

Related cases

Contacts

Partners and lawyers: ESG, Climate and Social Responsibility