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Oliver Williams is an associate in the Banking & Finance practice of the London office. He is also an active member of the firm’s Global ESG Group.

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The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD“) entered into force on 5 January 2023 and the associated European Sustainability Reporting Standards (“ESRS“) were adopted by the European Commission on 31 July 2023. Together, the CSRD and ESRS create detailed sustainability reporting requirements that will apply to a significant number of EU and non-EU companies and substantially increase the scope of their sustainability reporting.

Application of the rules is now imminent and, for some, CSRD reporting periods will begin from 1 January 2024.

In this update, we take a look at the implications of the CSRD for non-EU companies and what companies can do to prepare.

Continue Reading The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive is upon us – what non-EU companies should know and do

On 31 July 2023, the European Commission adopted the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (“ESRS“). EU and non-EU entities subject to the new EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD“) will be required to report against the ESRS, making the development of interest to entities preparing for reporting under the CSRD regime.

Continue Reading European Commission adopts the European Sustainability Reporting Standards

The risk of an accusation of “greenwashing” is now an important concern for many companies. Greenwashing is an ill-defined concept but, nevertheless, is increasingly a source of litigation and regulatory scrutiny – with more of both expected. It carries with it reputational, regulatory and litigation risks for which companies should be prepared. Whilst the risks are always context specific – varying by jurisdiction, industry

Climate-related litigation is increasingly being used as a tool to hold private and public sector actors to account over their contributions to climate change. According to the Grantham Institute’s 2023 Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation Policy Report (the “Report“) – which was published on 29 June 2023 – around two-thirds of climate-related cases have been filed since 2015: between 1986 and 2014, approximately 800 cases were filed, but between 2015 and May 2023, approximately 1,557 cases were filed.

Although the majority of the climate-related cases identified in the Report were brought against regional and national governments, the Report identified an increase in the number of climate-related cases brought against private sector actors. Of the 190 climate-related cases identified in the Report as being filed between June 2022 and May 2023, around 46% were filed against an increasingly diverse pool of private sector actors. This reflects the growing recognition by prospective litigants of litigation as an effective means of influencing the actions private sector actors are taking to address climate change. We discuss the trends identified in the Report in this blog post.

Continue Reading Climate litigation – the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment publishes its 2023 global trends in climate litigation report

On 26 June 2023, the International Sustainability Standards Board (“ISSB”) issued its long-awaited inaugural global sustainability disclosure standards: IFRS S1 (General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information) and IFRS S2 (Climate-related Disclosures) (together, the “Standards”). The ISSB also released a related Sustainability Standards Navigator tool and a three-minute video. The

On 7 June 2023, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA“) – the UK’s independent advertising regulator – banned a series of advertisements from a number of large oil and gas companies for including misleading information about their socio-environmental credentials. These landmark rulings, which mark the latest step in the ASA’s fight against greenwashing, are expected to set a precedent for how companies advertise their socio-environmental credentials in the future. More broadly, the increased regulatory scrutiny will likely feed into the expected rise in ESG-related litigation.

This move from the ASA mirrors similar moves by regulators and law-makers both in the UK and in other jurisdictions. The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has, for example, commenced investigations into the accuracy of environmental claims made by businesses in the fast-moving consumer goods sector (for further information on the CMA’s investigation, read our earlier blog post here). The US Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission have also taken steps to tighten regulation addressing greenwashing in marketing materials (for further information on these initiatives, read our earlier blog posts here and here).

Continue Reading Greenwashing: UK advertising watchdog bans greenwashing advertisements

On 1 June 2023, the European Parliament (the “EP“) plenary session adopted its proposed amendments to the draft EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (“CSDDD“).

The adopted text largely mirrors the version voted on by the EP’s Legal Affairs Committee in April 2023 (which we discussed in our earlier blog post), in that it confirms that:

  • asset managers and institutional investors will be in-scope;
  • the due diligence requirements will apply to: (i) EU companies with over 250 employees and a global turnover of over €40 million; (ii) parent companies with over 500 employees and a global turnover of over €150 million; and (iii) non-EU companies with a global turnover of over €150 million if at least €40 million of this was generated in the EU; and
  • directors of companies with more than 1,000 employees will be responsible for ensuring the company implements a transition plan that is compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The adopted text also confirms that non-compliant companies may be liable for damages and could be sanctioned by the national supervisory authorities of EU member states. Sanctions include taking a company’s goods off the market and/or the imposition of fines of at least 5% of a company’s net global turnover. Non-EU companies that fail to comply may also be banned from public procurement in the EU.

Continue Reading Human Rights and the Environment – European Parliament adopts amendments to draft Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive

On April 19, 2023, the influential CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) announced that nearly 7,000 organizations worldwide can disclose their plastic-related impacts for the first time, as CDP’s global environmental disclosure platform opens for 2023 reporting. CDP is adding plastic-related reporting to its online platform in response to a request from more than

On 25 April 2023, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee voted in favour of a revised version of the EU draft Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (“the Draft Directive”).

The revised version differs from the versions that we have previously commented on here, here and here in the following key respects:

  • Inclusion

On 30 March 2023, the UK Government published an updated Green Finance Strategy (the “Strategy“). The Strategy, which updates the UK’s 2019 Green Finance Strategy, outlines how “continued UK leadership on green finance will cement the UK’s place at the forefront of this growing global market, and how we will mobilise the investment needed to meet our climate and nature objectives“.

Continue Reading The future of green finance in the UK: UK Government publishes updated Green Finance Strategy