Competition and sustainability: Stepping up to the plate

The global pandemic has suddenly – and rightly – dominated people’s attention. But there is another more significant global emergency raging in our midst: climate change. Over the last year, we have seen a marked increase in the number of clients talking to us about competition law and sustainability. From a desire to co-operate to achieve green objectives, to environmental factors that are driving a deal, these issues are coming up again and again.

As advisors, bound by confidentiality obligations, we can’t talk about the cases that we advise on in specific terms or tell people about the cases where we see environmental initiatives fail to even get off the ground because of concerns about potential competition risk. But we think it is really important to highlight how these issues are coming to the forefront and to offer solutions.

We have commissioned some research looking at what is driving companies’ decision-making on sustainability and competition law. You can see our summary results here. Spoiler alert: competition law is a genuine barrier to companies co-operating on environmental grounds and many companies believe, like us, that competition agencies should act.

To hear a discussion of the results you can access a recording of a webinar we hosted on 28 April with Nicole Kar (Head of our UK Competition Practice), Simon Holmes (judge at the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal), Matthew Bennett (Vice-President, Charles River Associates) and Emma Cochrane (Practice Development Lawyer at Linklaters).

Over the next two weeks, we will be publishing a series of blog posts looking at competition law and sustainability. These posts will focus on practical guidance for companies who are grappling with the many tricky questions and how competition agencies could meaningfully address at least some of them. The Covid-19 response by many agencies has shown us that things can change quickly in extraordinary circumstances. We hope this series is a helpful first step in getting more people talking about competition law and sustainability and would welcome your feedback.

seedling plant in hand