Climate Change Failings Violate Citizens' Rights:
A Landmark Ruling and What It Means for Business

The recent ruling by the European Court, which holds governments legally liable for the health effects of global warming if they fail to meet their climate protection commitments, marks a significant shift in the legal landscape surrounding climate change. This decision underscores the urgent need for businesses to reassess their strategies and align with sustainable practices or face severe consequences.

Those familiar with my book, Five Horizons, will recognize how this development ties into several critical themes. The ruling highlights the convergence of three forces in what I call the "virtuous triangle": consumer demand, government regulation, and competitive market dynamics. These forces are coming together to precipitate tipping points driven by the pressures of sustainability.

The Virtuous Triangle in Action

  1. Consumer Demand: Today's consumers are increasingly aware of and concerned about climate change. They demand sustainable and ethical practices from the businesses they support. This shift in consumer behavior is a powerful driver for change, compelling companies to adopt more sustainable practices.

  2. Government Regulation: With the European Court's ruling, it is clear that governments can no longer afford to delay or dilute their climate protection efforts. Legal liabilities and punitive penalties are on the horizon for those who fail to act, forcing governments to enforce stricter regulations on businesses.

  3. Competitive Markets: The market will reward those who lead in sustainability and ethical practices. Companies that fail to adapt will find themselves outpaced by more agile, forward-thinking competitors. This competitive pressure will only intensify as regulations tighten and consumer expectations rise.

Implications for Business Leaders

This ruling is a wake-up call for business leaders. The legal and financial risks associated with climate inaction are now clearer than ever. Shareholder value is at stake, and companies must take proactive steps to lead in this transition or risk being left behind.

Five Horizons provides a strategic framework to help businesses navigate this complex landscape. The book outlines how to engage stakeholders to determine where and when to take action across value chain horizons and time horizons. Initially, companies had five horizons to act upon; now, with the accelerating pace of change, there may only be four.

Strategic Steps to Take Now

  1. Assess Your Current Position: Understand where your business stands in terms of sustainability practices. Identify gaps and areas for improvement.

  2. Engage Stakeholders: Collaborate with stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, and regulators, to gather insights and build a comprehensive sustainability strategy.

  3. Prioritise Actions: Use the Five Horizons framework to prioritize actions across different parts of your value chain and timeline. Focus on areas where you can make the most significant impact quickly.

  4. Implement Changes: Start with small, manageable changes that can be scaled over time. Ensure that sustainability becomes an integral part of your business operations and culture.

  5. Monitor and Adapt: Continuously monitor your progress and adapt your strategies as necessary. Stay informed about regulatory changes and evolving consumer expectations.


The European Court's ruling is a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change. It signals a clear mandate for businesses to take decisive action or face severe consequences. By leveraging the insights and strategies outlined in Five Horizons, companies can position themselves as leaders in sustainability, ensuring long-term success and resilience.


Are You Prepared to Sustain Your Business if 40-50% of Demand Disappears?