It is considered by many that sustainability considerations should not be taken into account by competition authorities when analyzing the effects of a conduct or transaction. This short article maintains that the impact on sustainability of certain types of conduct or transactions can be considered in the analysis of their price or non-price effects on quality, choice and innovation. This approach has the advantage of bringing sustainability considerations within the traditional competitive assessment framework, as opposed to characterizing them as public policy considerations that are outside the realm of competition law. This can be done by means of a relatively light fine-tuning of the current analytical toolbox and of the design of competition investigations, and it can help ensure that competition on sustainability, when it affects demand and supply in a particular market, is preserved.

By Cristina A. Volpin1

 What is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it

Aristotle, The Politics and the Constitution of Athens

 

I. THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN SUSTAINABILITY AND COMPETITION POLICY

While the first UN Conference on Environment took place in Stockholm already in 1972, only in more recent years has climate change become perceived as an existential threat by the international community.2 In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, calling governments to take action for the implementatio

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