Excellent team-player, very strong intellect. Paul is fantastic with clients. - The Legal 500

Paul Barker is a partner in the Bay Area office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and a member of the Firm’s ESG & Impact Practice Group.

Paul focuses on finance and investment in climate change solutions, energy transition and carbon markets, particularly by private investment funds sponsors. Complementing this work, Paul is an adjunct at Columbia University in New York, where he teaches a class on “Business and Climate Change: Law, Policy and Practice.”

Paul is an experienced advisor, deal counsel and litigator whose practice intersects fund formation, transactional, finance, regulatory and contentious matters. Paul is qualified in the U.S. and UK and counsels clients worldwide on a broad range of matters under domestic law and international law, often with a cross-border element, including:

  • Carbon Markets — Compliance, voluntary and Article 6 Paris Agreement carbon markets; carbon credit transactions and investment funds; establishment of carbon platforms.
  • Climate/Transition Investing — Fund formation (PE, credit, infrastructure); strategy and operationalization (governance, value creation, impact, risk management, metrics, reporting).
  • Disclosure/Regulation — Voluntary frameworks and standards; public company and private funds ESG regulation and enforcement; litigation.
  • Net Zero Transition — Legal risk relating to net zero/energy transition strategy or investments, including GHG emissions reductions and science-based targets.
  • Sustainable Finance — Financing frameworks and products including sustainability-linked loans (negotiating key performance indicators, sustainability performance targets); credit funds.

Prior to joining the Firm, Paul practiced as a barrister from a prominent London chambers, focusing on energy, finance and foreign investment. He was ranked as a leading barrister for international law and international arbitration by The Legal 500 and Who’s Who Legal, which describes Paul as “an exceptionally gifted and skilled lawyer” with “a brilliant strategic mind.”

Select Representative Clients

Blackstone, Carlyle, Generate Capital, KKR Credit, Macquarie Asset Management, Rubicon Carbon, TPG, Vista Equity Partners


Thought Leadership


Author, “COP28, Dubai: $30B Investment Fund, Carbon Markets Initiatives Reflect Increasing Momentum Behind Private Financing for Climate Solutions and Energy Transition,” Kirkland Alert, December 20, 2023

Author, “California Legislature Regulates Voluntary Carbon Market and Climate-Related Claims,” Kirkland Alert, October 5, 2023

Author, “Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures Publishes Final Framework for Reporting on Nature-Related Issues,” Kirkland Alert, September 27, 2023

Author, “California Legislature Passes Landmark Climate Disclosure Bills,” Kirkland Alert, September 21, 2023

Author, “CFTC, Private Sector Actions May Aid Carbon Market Integrity,” Law360, July 20, 2023

Author, “ISSB Releases Final Global Sustainability Disclosure Standards,” Kirkland Alert, June 29, 2023

Author, “EU Climate Action: Imminent Introduction of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism,” Kirkland Alert, May 1, 2023

Author, “California Climate Disclosure Bills Would Have Far-Reaching Implications for Companies Doing Business in the State,” Kirkland Alert, April 14, 2023

Author, “Voluntary Carbon Market Standard-Setter Issues ‘Core Carbon Principles,’” Kirkland Alert, April 6, 2023

Author, “UN Conference Signals Swell in Private Sector’s Green Efforts,” Law360, January 31, 2023

Author, “U.N. Biodiversity Conference Signals Growing Emphasis on Private Sector Action on Nature Conservation and Restoration in 2023,” Kirkland Alert, January 19, 2023

Author, “COP27 Highlights Climate Opportunities and Risks for the Private Sector,” Kirkland Alert, December 7, 2022

Author, “The Major Questions Doctrine Reigns Supreme in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency — Implications for Climate Policy and Impact Investing,” Kirkland Alert, July 6, 2022

Quoted, "The ESG Report – Overview: Turning on a greenback," Legal Business, June 28, 2022

Author, “SEC Proposes New Climate Disclosure Requirements,” Kirkland Alert, March 24, 2022

Author, “Directors and Executives Position Themselves to Lead on Climate,” Energy & Infrastructure Blog, March 16, 2022

Author, “COP26 and the Role of Private Capital,” Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, December 21, 2021

Author, “TCFD Issues New Guidance as Its Climate Reporting Framework Continues to Gain Traction,” Kirkland Alert, November 10, 2021

Author, “Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization: State Provision to Promote Local Employment in Decarbonization Policies,” Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, 2021

Speaking Engagements

Speaker, “Briefing on SEC’s Final Climate Disclosure Rules,” Kirkland Webinar, March 12, 2024

Speaker, “Creating the regulatory framework to enable energy transition” COP28: How the Law Can Unite and Act to Deliver the UN SDGs, December 7, 2023

Speaker, “ESG – evolving risks and opportunities in infrastructure investment,” PEI’s Infrastructure Investor America Forum 2023, November 29–30, 2023

Speaker, “ESG, (social) impact and sustainability in the face of a recession” SuperReturn North America 2023 Conference, November 6–7, 2023

Speaker, “Finding Opportunities & Avoiding Risk in Rough Seas,” Big Path Capital Impact Capitalism Summit, July 19, 2023

Speaker, “Webinar: Corporate Counsel Symposium: ESG for In-House Lawyers,” New York City Bar Association, March 31, 2023

Speaker, “Webinar: ESG Can’t Wait: Get Ahead of Final SEC Climate Reporting Rules,” Moderne Ventures, March 23, 2023

Speaker, “Voluntary Carbon Markets,” Stanford Law School’s Virtual Conference, October 25, 2022

Speaker, “2022 U.S. DOE Energy Storage Financing,” U.S. DOE, October 20, 2022

Featured, “Hsu Untied: Paul Barker, Partner at Kirkland & Ellis,” Hsu Untied Podcast, October 5, 2022

Speaker, “Emerging ESG Trends in Private Credit,” Private Debt Investor New York Forum 2022, September 21, 2022

Speaker, “Avoiding Greenwashing: Global Trends and Practical Steps,” Responsible Investment Forum: San Francisco, September 15, 2022

Speaker, “Heating Up: Climate Risk Oversight and Disclosure,” Diligent Modern Governance Summit, September 12, 2022

Speaker, “Voluntary Carbon Markets & International Dispute Resolution,” International Bar Association, July 14, 2022

Speaker, “Greenwashing Regulation and Litigation,” 2022 Leadership Summit for Women in Energy & Infrastructure, May 3, 2022

Speaker, “U.S. DOE Energy Storage Financing For Social Equity Summit,” Kirkland Seminar, April 13, 2022

Speaker, “Climate Litigation,” Diligent Climate Leadership Certificate Program, January 18, 2022

Speaker, “Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD): An Overview in the Context of Governance and Oversight,” Diligent Climate Leadership Certificate Program, January 14, 2022

Panelist, “Business, Human Rights, and the Environment,” Business and Human Rights Practitioners Network, London, October 2021

Speaker, “Climate Change, the Net Zero Energy Transition, and International Investment Law,” 2021/22 Investment Law and Investor-State Mediator Training, ICSID (World Bank), Hong Kong, October 2021

Panelist, “Net Zero Lawyers Alliance: Converting Net Zero Ambitions into Net Zero Obligations,” London Climate Action Week: Road to COP26/Glasgow, London, July 2021


UK Bar, Public International Law, The Legal 500

UK Bar, Who’s Who Legal

Arbitration, Who’s Who Legal

Memberships & Affiliations

Research Fellow, Gould Center, Stanford Law School

Visiting Fellow, Lauterpacht Center for International Law, Cambridge University


Admissions & Qualifications

  • California
  • New York
  • Admitted to the Bar of England and Wales, Middle Temple


  • Columbia Law SchoolLL.M.
    James Kent Scholar
  • Emmanuel College, University of CambridgeB.A., Law