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LinkingCompetition: Competition and Sustainability Series

Climate change is a global emergency, rocketing up the social and political agenda. To ensure their resilience and long-term viability, organisations need to proactively respond. There are huge opportunities for differentiation and growth into new markets and technologies. But there is also a competition law dimension, however laudable the aims.

This five-part LinkingCompetition blog series is dedicated to walking you through the issues from competitor collaborations to M&A and State aid. We focus on the key questions we are being asked by our clients and give practical guidance on how to navigate the interplay between the growing expectations of governments and society, and the significant consequences of breaching the competition rules.

To download an interactive version of all five posts, please click here.

We have also commissioned research which sheds new light on the interplay between competition law and sustainability, discussed further in this webinar. This research shows that sustainability leaders want to see changes to the competition rules to remove obstacles preventing collaboration on sustainability initiatives. And check out this podcast for practical guidance on how companies can lawfully pursue their green agenda in the here and now.

Download your copy of the survey results

Competition law is not cooperating: Linklaters survey results


Competition ESG survey front page

seedling plant

Competition and sustainability

If you would like to read all five posts in our Competition and Sustainability Series together in one place, please download the full report.


hands holding plant in soil

Competition and sustainability:
How can companies cooperate

Our recent experience advising companies as well as our survey results tell us that they are keen to help to address the climate emergency. Because going it alone may put a company at a competitive disadvantage, industry-wide cooperation will be far more effective. Companies need more guidance on the applicability of the competition rules in this space. But there are practical steps companies can take now to lawfully collaborate on sustainability. We walk through these in this, the second post in our Competition and Sustainability Series.

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wind turbines

Competition and sustainability: Evolving industrial and State aid policies to fuel green initiatives

Industrial policy across major jurisdictions is shifting to make economies more sustainable. Part of this transition involves encouraging public and private green investments through subsidies and regulation. In the EU, ambitious plans to combat climate change confer a central role on the State aid rules, which have already made strides in supporting sustainability projects. We walk through these important developments in this post, the fourth of our Competition and Sustainability Series.

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garbage on beach

Competition and sustainability: Stepping up to the plate

This first post asks the why and the how: why are we talking about this now, how should companies grapple with the many tricky questions – from competitor collaboration to M&A and State aid – and how could competition agencies meaningfully address at least some of them. The Covid-19 response by many of them has shown us that things can change quickly when they need to. We hope this series is a helpful first step in getting more people talking about competition law and sustainability.

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money stack growing into plant

Competition and sustainability: Fostering green deals via merger control policy

Compliance with the increasing expectations of governments and society has made “going green” an important common objective for companies and competition authorities. Merger control policies are evolving to take better account of these new strategic drivers. Dealmakers should think about how to respond tactically in the context of their M&A deals. We walk through the practical implications in this post, the third in our Competition and Sustainability Series.

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balancing stone scales

Competition and sustainability: Quantifying the environmental benefits of cooperation

The key to successfully exempting sustainability agreements from the competition rules is showing that their environmental benefits outweigh any competitive harm. To do this, we need to clearly quantify these and consider the right group of consumers, whether present or future generations. Building on the discussion in our Competition and Sustainability webinar from economic expert Matthew Bennett of Charles River Associates, this bonus post walks through some thoughts on these questions.

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Listen to Nicole Kar (Linklaters Head of UK Antitrust & Foreign Investment Group) and Vanessa Havard-Williams (Linklaters Global Head of Environment) share their insights into ESG, climate change and the competition agenda. This podcast focuses on why environmental issues are so important for businesses, the interplay with competition law – especially in the context of competitor cooperation, and, while we await clearer guidance from authorities, how companies can lawfully pursue their collaborative sustainability initiatives in the here and now.

On 28 April 2020, we hosted a webinar on competition law and sustainability. Listen to Nicole Kar (Head of UK Antitrust & Foreign Investment Group), Simon Holmes (judge at the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal), Matthew Bennett (Vice-President, Charles River Associates) and Emma Cochrane (Practice Development Lawyer at Linklaters) about how companies can achieve their ESG goals and stay within the competition rules as they currently apply, potential reforms, and the lessons we can apply from the Covid-19 crisis to competition law and climate change.

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