EU adopts sustainability due diligence rules

  • : Coal, Crude oil, Natural gas
  • 24/04/24

The European parliament has formally approved a Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), which will require large EU companies to make "best efforts" for climate change mitigation.

The law will mean that relevant companies will have to adopt a transition plan to make their business model compatible with the 1.5°C temperature limit set by the Paris climate agreement. It will apply to EU firms with over 1,000 employees and turnover above €450mn ($481mn). It will also apply to some companies with franchising or licensing agreements in the EU.

The directive requires transposition into different EU national laws. It obliges member states to ensure relevant firms adopt and put into effect a transition plan for climate change mitigation. Transition plans must aim to "ensure, through best efforts" that business models and company strategies are compatible with transition to a sustainable economy, limiting global warming to 1.5°C and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Where "relevant", the plans should limit "exposure of the company to coal-, oil- and gas-related activities".

Despite a provisional agreement, EU states initially failed to formally approve the provisional agreement reached with parliament in December, after some member states blocked the deal. Parliament's adoption — at its last session before breaking for EU elections — paves the way for entry into force later in the year.

Industry has obtained clarification, in the non-legal introduction, that the directive's requirements are an "obligation of means and not of results" with "due account" being given to progress that firms make as well as the "complexity and evolving" nature of climate transitioning.

Still, firms' climate transition plans need to contain "time-bound" targets for 2030 and in five-year intervals until 2050 based on "conclusive scientific" evidence and, where appropriate, absolute reduction targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) for direct scope 1 emissions as well as scope 2 and scope 3 emissions.

Scope 1 refers to emissions directly stemming from an organisation's activity, while scope 2 refers to indirect emissions from purchased energy. Scope 3 refers to end-use emissions.

"It is alarming to see how member states weakened the law in the final negotiations. And the law lacks an effective mechanism to force companies to reduce their climate emissions," said Paul de Clerck, campaigner at non-governmental organisation Friends of the Earth Europe, pointing to "gaping" loopholes in the adopted text.

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