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KlimaRZ: Climate Protection as a Business Risk – Avoidance and Defense

In the current edition of KlimaRZ – Zeitschrift für materielles und prozessuales Klimarecht, Uwe M. Erling and Dr. Tim Uschkereit, together with Dr. Anke C. Sessler and Max D. Stein of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom as a cross-law firm climate litigation defense team, discuss how climate protection is increasingly becoming a business risk as individual companies are sued for restricting their business operations or changing their business model.

The authors analyze the climate lawsuits brought by Deutsche Umwelthilfe and Greenpeace against individual car manufacturers and gas and oil production companies and put them in legal perspective. In addition, the new trend of so-called greenwashing lawsuits is examined. In the authors’ view, there are consistently good defense arguments against such new types of lawsuits. Nevertheless, they must be taken seriously from a company’s point of view, and avoiding such lawsuits must be given high priority, because the reputation and image of companies – regardless of the outcome of such lawsuits – is already affected immediately when the lawsuit is filed.

The authors recommend a “climate health check” as an avoidance strategy. In essence, this involves companies not only having an emergency plan for such a lawsuit situation that brings together all the relevant information and functions in the company (and externally) on an ad hoc basis, but also drawing up and constantly updating a climate protection plan that shows the transformation to climate neutrality and the concrete steps required by 2030 and 2045. As part of a holistic approach, the company’s ESG strategy and the related communications to customers, the capital market and the public must also be taken into account.

To the current edition.