Civil society united for corporate climate obligations

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[1] 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 energy sector is the largest culprit, yet fossil fuel companies are still recklessly planning mega projects – like the East African Crude Oil Pipeline[2] or the Mozambique LNG projects[3] – bound to set off disastrous ‘carbon bombs’.[4] Agribusiness is sourcing products like meat from farms on thousands of hectares of deforested land in the Amazon, and pumping billions of gallons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas emission, into the atmosphere through animal farming. The global fashion industry produces up to 10% of global carbon emissions.[5] And from aviation, to plastic production to raw materials mining, all sectors are contributing to the crisis.

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. This year Pakistan was hit by the worst floods in over 100 years, leaving millions in need of humanitarian assistance.[6]

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. Young people everywhere are taking to the streets to demand governments stop ignoring the multiple unfolding crises, and for corporations to stop destroying the planet. This groundswell is becoming impossible to ignore.

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.[7] 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.[8] 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, for example a landmark lawsuit brought by a Peruvian farmer against German energy company RWE to demand compensation for flood risks caused by glacial melting[9]. Companies are also being challenged in court for greenwashing and weak climate plans. In 2021, a landmark ruling in the Netherlands recognised the wholesale inadequacy of Shell’s voluntary climate plan and ordered them to reduce their emissions by 45% by 2030[10]. There are currently two lawsuits against TotalEnergies for weak climate transitions plans[11] and misleading claims about fossil gas and biofuels[12].

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 the undersigned activists and groups dedicated to fighting climate change, 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

  • All companies must be obligated to do due diligence and address their climate impacts: to identify and assess the risks of harmful impacts from their greenhouse gas emissions in their global value chains; take appropriate measures to prevent and cease these impacts; and communicate clearly and transparently about this.
  • All companies must be accountable and liable for their impacts: companies must be investigated and sanctioned if they fail their obligations. Local communities, farmers, workers, environmental defenders etc. who are threatened by flooding, drought or other climate impacts must be able to get justice and remedy in court. We must be able to sue companies across the EU for greenwashing and phony climate plans.


Climate Plans

All companies must have a credible plan to align with the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. A plan that:

  • Includes targets – corporate climate plans must have short- and medium-term targets for 2030 and 2050 as well as 5-year milestones.
  • Covers the entire value chain as well as scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. The total impact of business emissions is hidden behind complex chains of business relationships, and the biggest emissions from a product, e.g. oil, do not come from how it is produced, but how it is used (Scope 3).
  • Does not rely on offsetting: offsetting is not a reliable measure of real emissions reductions – companies must calculate their absolute reductions instead.
  • Includes concrete action: companies must explain clearly where and how they can decarbonise their business. The most carbon intensive assets must be closed (companies must be barred from simply selling off emissions to someone else).

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.

Civil society organizations

ACT Alliance EU

ActionAid EU



Alofa Tuvalu

Amigos de la Tierra España

Amis de la Terre France

Amnesty International

Amnesty International Slovenija

Andrew Lees Trust


Association Survie

Attac France

Baltic Environmental Forum Germany

Banana Link

Be Slavery Free

Birdlife Estonia


Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V. (FoE Germany)



CADTM France

CAN Europe

CCFD-Terre Solidaire


Christian Aid Ireland


Climate and Health Alliance

CliMates Austria

Colectivo Agroecológico Zurquí

Collectif Ethique sur l’étiquette


Conectas Direitos Humanos

Confédération paysanne

Corporate Europe Observatory

DD Foundation

Deutsche Umwelthilfe


Dreikönisaktion der Kath. Jungschar (DKA Austria)


ECCJ -European Coalition for Corporate Justice



Eesti Vegan Selts

Electra Energy Cooperative

Emergenza Climatica

Entraide et Fraternité

EPIZ Göttingen – In solidarity for ONE world

Estonian Green Movement (FoE Estonia)

Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation



Extinction Rebellion Bologna

Extinction Rebellion France

Evangelical-Lutheran Church District Rendsburg

Fair Trade Advocacy Office


Fashion Revolution

Federazione GIAN A.P.S.


FIAN Austria

FIAN Belgium

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights


Focus Association for Sustainable Development

Food & Water Action Europe

Forests of the World

Forum citoyen pour la RSE

Fridays For Future Austria

Friends of the Earth Europe

Friends of the Earth Finland

Friends of the Earth Ireland

Front Line Defenders

Fundación Libera

Fundacja Kupuj Odpowiedzialnie

Germanwatch e.V.

GLOBAL 2000 (FoE Austria)

Global Witness

Greenpeace Europe

Greenpeace Slovenia

Heilbronn mittendrin

Infostelle Klimagerechtigkeit – Zentrum für Mission und Ökumene

Initiative Lieferkettengesetz

INKOTA-netzwerk e.V.

Instituto Jane Goodall España

Instituto Para la Participación y el Desarrollo INPADE FOCO

Instutute for circular economy

International Federation for the Economy for the Common Good

International Land Coalition Secretariat

Irish Doctors for the Environment

Jane Goodall Institute Austria

Jane Goodall Institute France

Jordens Vänner (FoE Sweden)

Justice et Paix Luxembourg


Klimagerechtigkeit Kassel

Large Movements APS

Micha Deutschland e.V.



Minerva BHR

Mouvement Laudato Si

Movimento No TAP/SNAM Brindisi

MTÜ Ökotark website

MTÜ Rakendusökoloogia Keskus

Naturefriends Greece

Naturefriends International

Naturfreunde Internationale Austria



NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark

Nordkirche weltweit

Not Here Not Anywhere

Notre Affaire à Tous


ÖGB Europabüro


Ökumenisches Netzwerk Klimagerechtigkeit

Ordensfrauen für Menschenwürde

OroVerde – Tropical Forest Foundation


Päästame Eesti Metsad

Per il Clima Fuori dal Fossile

Plant Based Doctors Ireland

Plataforma por Empresas Responsables

PowerShift e.V.


Protection International


Protect Our Winters Austria

Reclaim Finance

Recycling Netwerk Benelux

Rete Legalità per il Clima

Rise For Climate Belgium

Romero Initiative

SDG Watch Europe





Slow Food Deutschland

SMA Justice Office





System Change, not Climate Change

The Jus Semper Global Alliance



Unis Pour Le Climat et la Biodiversité

Vamos e.V.





WeSmellGas Belgium

WeSmellGas International


Youth and Environment Europe

Youth for climate Val de Sambre

Zambia Climate Change Network

Zavod za pravično trgovino, 3MUHE

Zero Waste Germany e.V.

Zero Waste Kiel e.V. Europe


Camille Etienne

Adélaïde Charlier

Luisa Neubauer

Anuna de Wever

Boon Breyne, climate justice activist at Youth for Climate Belgium

Nyombi Morris, activist at Fridays For Future Uganda

Michael Spiekermann, spokesperson of Fridays For Future Austria

Alice Picard, co-spokesperson of Attac France

Vincent Gay, member of the chair of Attac France

Maxime Combes, economist

Alexander Schilling, citizen

Anna Beck, citizen

Antonin, activist at XR France

buggenhout, activist at XR Belgium

Cass Hebron, The Green Fix

Christoph Hartmann, pastor

Claire, activist at XR France

Diego Pedraza Lahoz, policy analyst

Dorno, activist at XR France

Dr. Tanja Zöllner, psychologist

Gisela Djelassi, citizen

Hendrix Valentine, activist at Youth for Climate Belgium

Jannis Eicker, PhD candidate Kassel University

Joachim David, activist at XR Belgium

Lena Wacker, education officer

Manuela Lanzinger, environmental consultant

Marion Frers, citizen

Mekki Djelassi citizen

Xeno, activist at Better.Planet.Online

Wintz, member of Internationale des Amis de la nature

Wim De Waegeneer, activist at XR Belgium

Werner Wilkens, member of Grannies for future Köln

Ulrike Lohr, member of Parents for Future Köln

Tony Bureau, citizen

Sr. Beate Krug sustainability officer

Simon Ruts, activist at Fridays for Future Antwerp

Severine Chance, citizen

Sabine Blankenstein, member of Grannies for future köln

Pros Staelens, citizen

Luise Fröhlich, member of Parents for Future Köln

Dorothee Holzapfel, pastor, member of Churches for Future

Charlotte Geiger, climate activist at Klimaentscheid Bayreuth

Sr. Beatrix Barth OSF, head of house at Kongregation der Dienerinnen der hl. Kindheit

Ivonne Jackelen, member Mar a Mar / El Camino de Costa Rica

Daniel Ostertag, team member Micha Deutschland, Lokalgruppe Stuttgart