Following the BEIS Secretary of State’s request, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its advice on how the competition and consumer regimes could better support the UK’s net zero and environmental sustainability goals (including climate adaptation).
Their advice includes some recommendations for further action for the Government to consider, specifically:
- changes to consumer law to make it easier for consumers to make sustainable choices and to support effective enforcement against breaches of consumer law that may give rise to environmental harm
- encouraging greater consistency and coordination across sectors and regulatory regimes in the approach to tackling climate change
- identifying other ways of promoting more sustainable consumption
When asked if current competition and consumer legal frameworks constrain or frustrate initiatives that might support the UK’s Net Zero and sustainability goals the CMA responded:
“We have not seen sufficient persuasive evidence from the responses to our CFI and in the course of our other relevant work to conclude that the current competition and consumer law frameworks are themselves an obstacle to sustainability initiatives such that fundamental changes to those frameworks are necessary.
“As we explain in the information document on environmental sustainability which we published for businesses, many initiatives aimed at achieving sustainability goals can fully and lawfully take place under the current competition law framework. This is also the case under the mergers and markets regimes.
“However, stakeholders have underlined the need for further clarity about how competition law will be applied in an environmental sustainability context.”
According the the CMA, stakeholders they consulted with had emphasised that a lack of certainty about how competition law would apply to sustainability initiatives made it difficult to self-assess whether a given agreement would merit exemption.