Environment and Natural Resources > Sustainable Development

Businesses seeking to succeed in a carbon-constrained world face significant and complex sustainability challenges. Global, national and local actions to address climate change and the economy-wide impact of those actions require precisely the type of multidisciplinary approach that has long been Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s trademark.

Akin Gump’s sustainable development practice understands the significant and complex business and economic challenges our clients face, as laws and regulations increasingly emerge to encourage, and sometimes mandate, sustainability. The legal obstacles that confront businesses adapting to these challenges must be overcome on several fronts simultaneously, accounting for shifting political, economic, regulatory and social landscapes. Coordinating these efforts is among the greatest challenges facing our clients. We succeed for our clients by leveraging our breadth of knowledge and insight to create comprehensive solutions to sustainability concerns.

Our multidisciplinary sustainable development practice comprises partners and advisors in our domestic and international policy, investment funds, tax policy, trade, litigation, private equity, global transactions, energy and environmental, and intellectual property practices. The practice operates in the United States and internationally and builds on our significant experience and/or relationships with all three branches of the U.S. government, as well as with multilateral environmental agreements and United Nations institutions, the World Bank and other key international organizations and processes.

We are devoted to helping our clients find cost-effective and often competitively advantageous means for handling sustainability issues. We develop unique legal and strategic advice to help clients navigate federal and state programs, advocate and lobby on behalf of our clients on sustainability issues and help clients manage risk, ensure compliance and capitalize on new business opportunities. We bring to our clients’ issues a pragmatic, business-oriented perspective developed through representing public- and private-sector clients in the United States and abroad and informed by our practitioners’ varied experience in business, government, public interest and politics.

Our Services

  • Domestic Policy. Our team tracks law and policy developments, frames issues and advocates on behalf of clients before the Congress, executive agencies and offices, and the states. Our relationships and knowledge of the processes involved in U.S. policymaking are deep, specific and direct, covering the full spectrum of political leadership in the U.S. government on issues such as cap and trade, renewable energy standards, low-carbon fuels, carbon capture and storage, clean technologies, tax policy and other incentive programs.
  • International Policy. We track law and policy developments and advocate on behalf of clients before United Nations organizations, multilateral environmental treaty secretariats, the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other international forums.
  • International Trade. Our lawyers apply their renowned experience and knowledge with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and related U.S. and multilateral institutions, trade regulations, clean technology transfer and financing mechanisms, including a full range of intellectual property protection and enforcement services.
  • Litigation. We provide litigation counsel to clients affected by greenhouse gas and climate change-related lawsuits involving issues such as environmental impact statements, nuisance/torts, permitting, corporate disclosure and administrative rulemaking.
  • Energy and Environmental. We provide environmental counseling services, including compliance and mitigation strategies, permitting, carbon emissions trading and offsets, and certification, monitoring and verification of emission reduction strategies.
  • Investment Funds and Private Equity. We represent purchasers and originators of project-based greenhouse gas emissions credits, as well as brokers, traders, investment banks, hedge funds, compliance purchasers and others making investments and managing risk related to energy, clean technologies and tradable environmental attributes.
  • Global Transactions. We advise clients through the entire project development process, from concept to completion, including creating opportunities to monetize carbon assets and offset carbon footprints. Our professionals possess particular knowledge and experience in the energy and transportation sectors, which have high exposure in a carbon-constrained economy.

Representative Matters

  • representing a major power company (in Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil Corp., et al.) sued by the native village of Kivalina in Alaska for allegedly causing property damage from the emission of greenhouse gases
  • obtaining funding for clean technology research, development and construction under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and similar governmental initiatives
  • representing a carbon offset project developer to improve and enhance the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) by strengthening the administrative procedures governing the CDM Executive Board and other market stakeholders
  • building a coalition of U.S.-based clean technology providers to break down tariff and nontariff barriers to trade, including intellectual property right protections, for the development and deployment of technologies in developing companies
  • working with alternative energy developers, biofuel manufacturers and other low-carbon fuel vendors with tax policy and incentive programs
  • advocating for cap-and-trade solutions to greenhouse gas emissions on behalf of a coalition of business and nongovernmental organizations
  • working with a coalition of governments to strengthen environmental and administrative integrity of international and domestic climate change laws, including compliance mechanisms such as monitoring, reporting and verification
  • providing litigation and regulatory intelligence on climate change to financial institutions
  • working with the oil and gas industry in connection with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rulemaking and congressional investigation related to carbon capture and storage through underground injection
  • defending a big-box retailer in lawsuits challenging development for failure to assess greenhouse gas emissions impacts of project
  • reviewing and drafting emission reduction purchase agreements.