The new book: ‘Climate Litigation in a Changing World’ by members of the expert group Jaap Spier with Bastiaan Kock is now available!

Click here to order a copy of the book, until April 2023 with 55% discount if you use the following link and add the discount code Climate2023

“Climate Litigation in a Changing World is distinctive and distinguished. Distinctive because there is no other book currently available that has the coverage and content of this book. It makes an innovative and important contribution to the literature on climate law. Distinguished because of its academic excellence. It is a thoughtful and scholarly explication and analysis of the climate change crisis and its legal solutions.”
The Hon Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales.

Climate change poses tremendous legal challenges. The law is still largely unsettled. Seeing the global consequences of GHG emissions, many enterprises may face litigation before courts in multiple jurisdictions. The outcome of these cases is often hard to predict. It is in the best interest of humankind and the environment to create global obligations, for instance in the form of concrete obligations of States and enterprises, which can be applied by courts around the globe. Using a myriad of legal sources as a basis, this book explores recurring legal features and remedies in the context of climate litigation. It explores the advantages and disadvantages of specific choices, while recognizing that there are often no self-explanatory answers. The lessons drawn are applied to hypothetical cases.

Climate Litigation in a Changing World provides a basis for well-reasoned choices about measures that could, and will likely have to be, effectuated. Taking insufficient measures may give rise to liability. A keen understanding of these issues is vital for legal advisors, investors, NGO’s, businesses and prospective lawyers to anticipate future legal developments.

Full text of the updated Principles on Climate Obligations of Enterprises now available!

Click here for the full text of the Climate Principles for Enterprises and the commentary thereto

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,  or

Update (second edition):

See for a users guide how to implement the Principles: about

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,, and is available for purchase.

On behalf of the Expert Group,

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Jaap Spier & Bastiaan Kock


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 on Climate Obligations of Enterprises is a timely and compelling book that clarifies the critical role that businesses must play in addressing the global climate emergency and preventing catastrophic impacts on human rights. These principles should be understood and applied as legally binding obligations, not as voluntary guidelines.”

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment David Boyd

“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

“Climate change needs the commitment of all players (individuals, private sector, public sector). The principles show how enterprises could and should contribute to limit the rise of global temperature.”

Astrid Epiney, Rector of the University of Freiburg (Switzerland)

“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 impacts of climate change affect all, but the poorer countries and poorer people are affected disproportionately, as they are unable to adapt or deal with the impacts efficiently and effectively. For Bhutan, a small developing and landlocked nation, located in the fragile eastern Himalayan ecosystem, climate change is not just an environmental problem, but a serious challenge to sustainable development and the livelihood of the Bhutanese people. Though Bhutan has not contributed to global warming, we are bearing the brunt of its consequences – given our small size and vulnerabilities, the problems invariably get magnified. I have the pleasure to endorse the Principles with the understanding and belief that – Climate Principles for Enterprises demonstrates human capacity and ability to find solutions – the overwhelming need and urgency to take stewardship of planet earth, with the aspiration to prevent our environmental nightmares from becoming a reality. The need to calibrate the scale and intensity at which nature is used and abused has certainly become an imperative. One big step may not be sufficient to combat climate change, instead many small steps undertaken by all would eventually have a greater impact – as the environment and climate change transcends all boundaries.”

Hon. Tshering Wangchuk, Former Chief Justice of Bhutan

“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

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.