This is the official website for the Principles on Climate Obligations of Enterprises (Climate Principles for Enterprises). Here, you can find the texts of the principles and their extensive commentary, which expands on how the principles should be interpreted and explains their legal substantiation; a list of publications about the Climate Principles for Enterprises; information about the members of the Expert Group on Climate Obligations of Enterprises; a list of endorsers of the principles; and news about the principles and any upcoming events.

We would be delighted to talk about the Principles, the obligations of the corporate and the financial sector and the liability risks posed by unabated climate change. We are open to any format: private discussions, in-house meetings, and speaking at events and conferences about any topic related to our Principles and the update which is still work in progress. We are also most happy to accept invitations to write about the Principles.

For more information please contact Prof. Dr Jaap Spier, jaapspier@gmail.com or jaap.spier@cisl.cam.ac.uk.

Update (second edition):

The reasons for this updated version are the IPCC Special Reports of 2018 and 2019, an increasing number of unprecedented natural catastrophes, new climate cases, reports, academic publications and the growing awareness that the window of time is closing. There is a growing consensus that net zero emissions have to be achieved by 2050 at the latest. For now and with notable exceptions corresponding action falls short.

This unfortunate state of affairs urged us to consider additional measures and targets to avoid passing fatal thresholds. The update emphasises the importance of and offers concrete principles on

  • the emissions of suppliers, products and services;
  • governance;
  • buyers of fossil fuels;
  • major retailers and
  • the obligations of key players:
    • accountants;
    • credit rating agencies;
    • (re)insurers, and
    • attorneys.
The book containing the text of the principles and an elaborate commentary is published by Eleven international publishing, https://www.boomdenhaag.nl/en/webshop/principles-on-climate-obligations-of-enterprises-1, and is now available for purchase.

About the update:

“This document will help corporate leaders to make
informed decisions about the measures to be taken, and allows
others – investors, Prudential Authorities, accountants and NGOs –
to assess whether the required measures have been implemented.”

Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the UK

“The principles, as now updated, can be taken as a fair indication
as to how the law stands or is likely to develop.”

Lord Carnwath, former Justice of the UK Supreme Court

“The principles in this book are not just a matter of legal niceties – they underpin how businesses can survive – indeed thrive – in the face of one of the biggest challenges the human race has ever faced.”

Paul Fisher, former Executive Director, Bank of England

 —

“We will not achieve our climate objectives and fulfill our obligations towards future generations if, apart from states, private actors fail to take up their full responsibility in this matter. The Expert Group on Climate Obligations of Enterprises has spelled out what this means in practice, building on the great legal expertise of its members. I hope these principles will find their way to everyone who has a say in business management.”

Prof.  Dr. L. Lavrysen, Ghent University, Justice Constitutional Court of Belgium, President of the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment

 —

“These Principles on the Climate Obligations of Enterprises address a critical question to which we desperately need an answer: “What is the responsibility of a business organization in responding to the challenge of climate change?”

It is extraordinary that we have failed to address this issue.

I would urge every businessperson, policy maker, investor and citizen to take note of what the Expert Group has to say. And to ask themselves: ‘If not these principles, then what alternative do we advocate, and if not now, when?’”

David Pitt Watson, Investor, and advisor to Sarasin and Partners, Former Chair UN Environment Finance Initiative

“The Principles state enterprises’ and investors’ duties with admirable concreteness and specificity. Believing that clearer duties command more compliance, I regard these attributes as essential in thwarting the human rights threat posed by climate change.

My endorsement of these principles, which are as reasonable as they are concrete, is firm.”

Hon. Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, President of the East African Court of Justice

Text of the updated Principles:

See for the full text of the updated Principles the following link: https://climateprinciplesforenterprises.org/updated-principles/

On behalf of the Expert Group,

Jaap Spier & Bastiaan Kock

JaapSpier-13

Latest developments around the Principles:

See for the latest news concerning the Principles News and Events

Can climate litigation save the world?

Damian Carrington, Environment Editor, explored the role of courts as “a new front line of climate action” and covered the Climate Principles for Enterprises in March 2018 for The Guardian.

“an international panel of senior judges concluded in January that many companies around the world may well already be in breach of existing laws in relation to their impact on climate change. “Very, very few enterprises currently meet their obligations – if they did [climate change] would mostly be solved,” said Jaap Spier, who was advocate general in the Dutch supreme court until 2016 and part of the panel that published the assessment.

Spier says judges are influenced by growing concerns in society, such as worries over climate change, and are increasingly likely to look favourably on climate litigation in coming years. “If you assume companies don’t [change] at some stage, I have not the slightest doubt that courts will understand that they must step in.”

Read the full article here.