Is your community experiencing the negative impacts of climate change? Do you know companies that aren’t doing enough to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or admit and address their climate-related harms to people or the environment? The OECD Guidelines may help you fight for a greener future.

What the OECD Guidelines say about climate change

The OECD Guidelines refer to the Paris Agreement and call on companies to play their own important part in facing this global challenge through both climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. You can use the OECD Guidelines to demand that companies:

  • Take action against climate change, for instance by reducing their GHG emissions and transitioning to greener fuels and methods.
  • Show their GHG emissions align with internationally agreed global temperature goals based on best-available science.
  • Implement science-based climate change policies and transition plans.
  • Set and monitor GHG emissions mitigation targets that are short-, medium-, and long-term; based on the latest available science; include absolute and also, where relevant, intensity-based GHG reduction targets; and take into account scope 1, 2, and, to the extent possible based on best available information, scope 3 GHG emissions.
  • Prioritise eliminating or reducing sources of emissions over offsetting, compensation, or neutralisation measures, and use carbon credits or offsets (only of high integrity) only as a last resort.
  • Avoid activities that undermine the resilience and climate adaptation ability of communities, workers, and ecosystems. These include activities such as overuse of water resources.
  • Report accurately and publicly on climate impacts, including potentially reporting on climate impacts as financially “material” risks (that is, risks that impact the value of the company).


Remind companies and complaints bodies that scope 3 emissions are often the largest portion of a company’s emissions and often can be directly controllable by the business. Present information showing that it is possible and impactful for the company to calculate and address its scope 3 emissions.

Read the text

  • Chapter VI (Environment): chapeau; paragraph 1; commentaries 76, 77, and 79
  • Chapter III (Disclosure): paragraphs 2 and 3; commentary 33

Additional important information

What are the OECD Guidelines?

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (OECD Guidelines) are recommendations from governments to companies on how to act responsibly. The OECD Guidelines set non-binding standards for responsible business conduct across a range of issues important to communities, such as human rights, workers rights, and the environment, and also cover issues such as corruption and taxation.

Governments that follow the OECD Guidelines must establish a non-judicial complaints body called a National Contact Point for Responsible Business Conduct to promote the Guidelines and handle complaints about harmful business activity. The Guidelines set good standards for all companies, but complaints can only be filed against two types of companies operating across borders:

  1. multinational enterprises headquartered in a country that follows the OECD Guidelines, or
  2. multinational enterprises operating in a country that follows the OECD Guidelines.

How can you use the OECD Guidelines?

Civil society can use the Guidelines to:

  • Raise community awareness about company standards.
  • Talk to companies to demand better conduct.
  • File complaints when companies fall below the standards.
  • Advocate for strong laws and policies on corporate responsibility.

Further resources