Harnessing ISO Standards to Combat Climate Change: Understanding the Climate Change Amendment

In 2021 the International Standards Organisation (ISO) adopted the London Declaration, affirming its commitment to combating climate change through its standards by 2050. This declaration outlines several key objectives, including actively integrating climate science into the development of standards, engaging civil society and vulnerable populations in the process, and establishing a robust action plan with measurable progress-tracking mechanisms.

This new focus on climate change in compliance standards is complemented by the change in consumers’ own standards and expectations. The Deloitte 2023 Sustainable Customer survey found that durability (58%) and repairability (39%) are now consumers’ top priorities; followed closely by recyclability (39%) and biodiversity (37%). 

Of course, we at Principle Defence believe that all organisations should be focused as a matter of course on making their products, services and goods sustainable, and lowering the impact of their operations on the environment. No matter what your organisation’s position on this issue, however, it’s clear that a pincer movement of compliance and consumer expectations means climate impact is not a consideration that you can ignore.

New Requirements for Management Systems:

Two new requirements that sit within 4.1 and 4.2 of the Annex SL standards have been introduced, necessitating organisations to evaluate the relevance of climate change to their management systems and to consider input from relevant interested parties. The following should be added to your ISO Management System(s). 

4.1 “The organisation shall determine whether climate change is a relevant issue”

4.2 “Note2: Relevant interested parties can have requirements related to climate change”

Here's a breakdown of how organisations can demonstrate compliance:

1. Relevance Assessment: Organisations must determine whether climate change is a pertinent issue for their operations. This could involve examining various factors from Clause 4 – Context, including:

  • Interested Parties: Evidence of the needs and equities of interested parties can be found through workshops and focus groups, assessments of their requirements (based on social media, purchasing history), reviews of their websites (Business to Business), consumer surveys, and commercial bodies.
  • Legal and Contractual Obligations: Documentation of legislative requirements pertaining to environmental protection, such as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations, serves as evidence of compliance with governmental and regulatory obligations. Additionally, documented evidence of contractual obligations required by your customers (Business to Business) can help to evidence their needs and interests. 
  • Changes in the industry: Being able to demonstrate that you are keeping up to date with current changes in industry, utilising things like the Deloitte Sustainable Customer Survey, can help you both to identify what your interested parties might be expecting, and provides evidence that you have done so.

2. Workload Assessment:

Determining the level of effort required involves asking critical questions:

  • Environmental Impact: Organisations need to assess whether their management system(s) have any discernible impact on the environment. If not, they must still evidence this outcome. 

  • Climate Change Impact: Similarly, organisations need to evaluate if climate change has any impact on their management system(s). If either of these questions yields a positive response, specific requirements must be identified and evidenced.

The outputs from this assessment will determine whether the organisation needs to take action or not. 

  • If they don’t, evidence should be maintained of the decision and should be regularly reviewed. 
  • If they do, then the organisation must adapt their management system(s) to take into consideration the requirements.

Links to amendments:

While the amendment is free, and the same for all standards, we’ve included some links to the common ISO standards below:

If you’re using a different standard you can search for the amendment here: https://www.iso.org/home.html


The ISO’s Climate Change Amendment represents a significant step in the global effort to address climate change. By embedding climate considerations into management systems, organisations will not only enhance their environmental responsibility but also contribute to the broader goal of mitigating climate risks.

Through systematic assessment and evidence gathering, businesses can ensure compliance with ISO standards while actively participating in the fight against climate change.

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