On 26 January 2023, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA“) announced that it intends to investigate the accuracy of environmental claims made by businesses in the fast-moving consumer goods (“FMCG”) sector. The CMA has stated that it will examine claims made both online and in-store about household products – such as food and drink, cleaning, homecare and self-care products – to determine whether they comply with UK consumer protection law.

The investigation of goods in the FMCG sector will expand the scope of the CMA’s ongoing anti-greenwashing work, which has the ultimate aim of ensuring products and services that claim to be ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ are being marketed to consumers accurately.Continue Reading Greenwashing: UK competition watchdog to investigate the FMCG sector

On 24 January 2023, each of the European Parliament’s trade committee and economic affairs committee reached agreed positions on the financial aspects of the draft Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (the “Draft Directive”). The agreed positions mark a departure from the European Commission’s and the Council of the European Union’s previous positions on the

FTSE Russell – a leading provider of benchmarks that are used extensively by investors across the globe – has removed 34 companies from the FTSE4 Good All-World benchmark (the “FTSE4Good Index”). The companies were removed for failing to meet climate performance standards imposed by the newly introduced ‘Climate Change Score’ system, which is based on parameters created by the Transition Pathway Initiative (“TPI”), an initiative backed by 132 investors with over US$50 trillion in assets under management.Continue Reading Climate performance – FTSE4Good Index looks to hold companies to higher environmental standards

By far the largest focus in recent years in terms of ‘responsible investment’ has been on the ‘Environment’ limb of ESG. The UN Principles of Responsible Investment (“PRI“) – an international organisation working to encourage the integration of ESG factors into investment decision making – is now seeking to change this with the launch of its ‘Advance‘ initiative, which is a “collaborative stewardship initiative where institutional investors work together to take action on human rights and social issues”. This forms part of a renewed effort to reinvigorate the ‘Social’ and ‘Governance’ limbs to ESG and bring social initiatives to the forefront of ‘responsible investing’.Continue Reading Business and human rights: investors commit to action on human rights and social issues via the world’s largest human rights stewardship initiative

In January 2023, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System released a report that reviews the climate action plans of global systemically important banks (“G-SIBs”) and summarizes the progress they are making toward achieving them (“Climate Action Report”).[1] As discussed below, the Climate Action Report can be an useful tool for banks that are developing sustainable financing products and climate risk management processes because it identifies key peer behaviors and widely used resources.Continue Reading Climate Action and Banks: Review of Climate Action Plans Released by US Federal Reserve

Regulators are increasingly mandating companies to make environmental disclosures (see here, here and here).

The CDP – a not-for-profit organisation aiming to encourage the disclosure of environmental risk – has measured and scored the effectiveness of companies’ 2022 environmental disclosures in their latest ‘A List’ Report (the “CDP Report”). The CDP Report shows that a mere 12 of the 18,700 companies that responded to the CDP’s questionnaires scored a ‘triple A’ for their environmental disclosures, whilst over 29,500 companies scored an ‘F’ after failing to provide any data to the CDP.

According to the CDP, over 680 investors with combined assets of US $130 trillion, and over 280 large purchasers with US $6.4 trillion in buying power requested over 48,000 companies to disclose environmental information through the CDP in 2022. Continue Reading Mandatory Disclosure: companies’ environmental disclosures analysed in the CDP’s 2022 ‘A List’ Report

On 6 December 2022, the Council of the European Union (the “Council“) and the European Parliament (the “EP“) reached a provisional agreement on a proposal to minimise the risk of deforestation and forest degradation with products that are imported into, or exported from, the EU (the “Agreed Position“). The

On December 8, 2022, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (“BCBS”) released guidance to clarify how climate-related financial risks may be captured in existing capital and liquidity requirements for banking organizations (“Climate FAQs”). The Climate FAQs are noteworthy because they indicate that standard setters believe climate-related financial risks should be included in bank capital requirements and

On 30 November 2022, the Council of the European Union (the “Council”) adopted its negotiating position on the European Commission’s proposal for a corporate sustainability and due diligence directive (the “Draft Directive”). As discussed in our previous blog posts (which you can read here and here), the proposed Draft Directive set out an EU standard for human rights and environmental due diligence (“HREDD”) and required EU member states to introduce legislation making in-scope companies responsible for violations of HREDD standards across their entire value chain. This meant that companies would have to conduct HREDD on their suppliers and clients, and could be held liable for how their products and services are used and disposed of. Although the fundamental principles of the proposed Directive remain intact, the Council’s suggested amendments to the Draft Directive do include some important changes.Continue Reading Human Rights and the Environment – EU Council responds to the draft Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive

On 21 November 2022, the World Benchmarking Alliance – a non-profit organisation that develops benchmarks to hold companies to account for their part in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – published its 2022 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark Insights Report (the “2022 Report“).

Compared to previous iterations (which we have discussed in a previous blog post here), the 2022 Report devotes more attention to companies’ efforts to ensure that human rights are respected within their operations and supply chains, rather than simply focussing on the human rights-related commitments that companies have made. The 2022 Report also focusses on companies’ stakeholder engagement, their business models, strategies and risks, and whether they prohibit forms of forced labour.

In applying this revised methodology, the 2022 Report concludes that companies are better recognising their human rights-related responsibilities and have improved their human rights-related risk management strategies. However, the 2022 Report also highlights that the pace of this improvement has been very slow.Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: Corporate Human Rights Benchmark 2022 shows that corporate respect for human rights has gained momentum