The climate crisis is the biggest crisis facing us today. The role of business in worsening this crisis is undeniable. There is an EU law on the table that could make companies tackle their greenhouse gas emissions, but the proposal is too weak to work in practice.

Every economic sector has a heavy climate footprint. The resulting global warming is already taking a devastating toll on people and planet. Last summer, Europeans experienced the heaviest floods and most intense heat waves in decades. However, the heaviest toll  is paid by people in the Global South. People across the world have risen up to demand climate action. The global climate movement is made up of hundreds of thousands of groups and millions of people.

Companies have responded to these demands by making lofty public commitments to align with the Paris Agreement through transition plans and ‘net zero pledges’. But these are mostly empty promises and greenwashing. Net-zero pledges are heavily reliant on offsetting emissions through practices such as forest restoration or carbon capture technologies, despite clear evidence that neither of these are reliable. It is clear that companies are determined to postpone real climate action for as long as possible.

As the harmful impacts caused by climate change mount, we are also seeing an increase in human rights lawsuits. Affected people are mobilising to demand compensation and remedy. Companies are also being challenged in court for greenwashing and weak climate plans. The failure of voluntary commitments and these legal trends show that the more reliable route to reducing emissions from business is to make companies legally accountable for their climate plans and impacts.

At the EU level, a law is being negotiated that could hold companies accountable for human rights abuses and environmental damage in their global value chains. Making sure it makes companies accountable for their climate impacts and for reducing their emissions is essential if we have any hope of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees. But right now, the proposal for a law fails to enforce any meaningful climate obligations on companies.

We demand a strong EU law that is fit to tackle the climate crisis and deliver climate justice. A law that makes companies legally accountable for their climate impacts plans by:

  • Obligating all companies to comply with due diligence and address their climate impacts
  • Holding all companies accountable and liable for their impacts
  • Including targets
  • Covering the entire value chain as well as scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions
  • Not relying on offsetting
  • Including concrete action

The latest climate science warns that unless we have massive emissions cuts in the next decade, the 1.5. degree goal may soon be out of reach. The conclusion is clear – we need to tackle the emissions coming from business today. To ease climate disasters and preserve a liveable future, we demand the EU and member states act now to enforce rules on business.

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