Climate Change, Sustainability and Competition Law

Here is a fantastic paper by our friend Simon Holmes (UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, Oxford, ClientEarth), recently published in the Oxford Journal of Antitrust Enforcement – and it’s open access!¬†Simon had presented an earlier draft of this article last September at a We Are Competition event at Sciences Po in his (now legendary) Extinction Rebellion t-shirt.

Simon has said: ‘Some may see the timing as unfortunate as the Covid 19 crisis dominates our thoughts. However, this is also a time when I hope we are all more sensitive to what really matters in life and that applies to all aspects of our work including competition policy and the need to build a more sustainable future and fight the climate crisis with all available tools.’


Climate Change is an existential threat. Competition law must be part of the solution and not part of the problem. This article draws on the constitutional provisions of the EU treaties and remarks by leaders such as Commissioner Vestager to show how competition law need not stand in the way of urgent action and co-operation by the private sector to fight climate change. It also shows how sustainability is relevant to both the analysis of mergers and dominance cases. It is a call to update our thinking, our guidelines and, if necessary, our law. Based on EU law it contains ideas that could inspire changes in other jurisdictions.

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