In December 2021, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) issued the results of its pilot climate risk stress test (CRST).  The CRST assesses the potential impact of climate change on the Hong Kong banking sector.  It marks the latest such publication by a regulator on the topic, with French regulator, Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (ACPR), having published the results of its climate risk stress test in Q2 2021 and a number of other countries’ regulators undertaking similar analyses during 2022.

The CRST indicates that the Hong Kong banking sector should remain resilient to climate-related shocks given the Banks’ strong capital buffers. However, it was noted that simplified assumptions and use of historical data in modelling could mean the potential impact could be more serious than predicted.

The exercise identified various climate-related vulnerabilities for Banks to seek to address and highlighted gaps in terms of insufficient granular, reliable data, as well as a lack of widely-accepted standards for classifying and identifying climate risk exposures.  HKMA notes that addressing these issues will require concerted efforts of the industry.

In this Blog Post, we set out a high level summary of the CRST in terms of the scope of the CRST, pertinent findings and actions required to enhance climate risk management going forward.


Continue Reading HKMA Publishes Report On First Climate Risk Stress Test Of The Hong Kong Banking Sector

In order to implement the “Plan for the Reform of the Legal Disclosure System of Environmental Information” issued by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) in May 2021, the MEE has issued new disclosure rules (Rules) that will require domestic entities to disclose a range of environmental information

On December 15, 2021, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) responded to two consultations addressing a range of ESG-related topics that could significantly change the ESG reporting landscape for listed companies in Singapore. The consultations address the implementation of (i) mandatory climate-related disclosures for certain sectors aligned with the Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), (ii) mandatory diversity-related disclosures for all issuers and (iii) a list of 27 “Core ESG Metrics” to help listed companies align their ESG disclosures with international standards and best practices on a voluntary basis.

As SGX otherwise requires ESG reporting on a comply-or-explain basis only, these proposals represent a shift toward an increased focus on mandatory climate and diversity disclosures that, in particular, has taken hold among Asian regulators. Just this month, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong implemented mandatory gender diversity requirements and Hong Kong’s Cross-Agency Steering Group reported “progress towards mandating climate-related disclosures aligned with the TCFD framework by 2025 across relevant sectors”, while a group of Malaysian regulators announced their intention to implement mandatory TCFD disclosures by the end of 2024.

In this Blog Post, we highlight key aspects of the recent SGX announcements and provide guidance on how companies are already implementing ESG frameworks incorporating TCFD and more.


Continue Reading Singapore Regulator Prioritizes TCFD, Diversity and ESG Metrics in New Disclosure Rules and Guidance

“Delivering effective corporate governance practices and ESG measures is more than a box-ticking exercise. The change needs to begin with a shift of mindset at the top of the organisations.” – SEHK, December 2021

On December 10, 2021, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK) published the conclusions from its April 2021 consultation on amendments to the SEHK’s Corporate Governance Code (the Code) and Listing Rules intended to promote good corporate governance practices among listed companies and IPO applicants. The final amendments address a range of topics that could significantly change the way that the boards of covered entities operate, including with respect to gender diversity, ESG reporting timelines and the role that ESG plays in corporate governance structures and processes.

In this Blog Post, we highlight final amendments to the Code and the Listing Rules addressing the link between ESG and good corporate governance, ESG reporting and gender diversity at both the board and workforce levels.


Continue Reading ESG and Gender Diversity Requirements Finalized for Listed Companies and IPO Applicants in Hong Kong

On November 26, 2021, Hong Kong’s Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) advanced the Special Administrative Region’s sustainable finance strategy with new Principles for Adopting Sustainable Investing in the Investment and Risk Management Processes of MPF Funds (the Principles). The Principles lay out a high-level ESG integration framework for trustees of Mandatory Provident Funds (MPF), the investment vehicles for the Hong Kong’s mandatory retirement protection scheme, across four key elements: governance, strategy, risk management and disclosure.

In this Blog Post, we provide a brief overview of the Principles and highlight each element, as well as important next steps for MPF trustees. We also provide guidance on how companies are already implementing ESG frameworks similar to the Principles.


Continue Reading Hong Kong Regulator Issues Sustainable Investing Principles for Pension Fund Trustees

On November 10, 2021, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) released Version 1 of the ASEAN Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance (the “ASEAN Taxonomy“). First announced in March 2021, the ASEAN Taxonomy will provide a common language for sustainable finance among the ten ASEAN Member States (AMS) that, together, comprise the fifth largest economy in the world. This is a necessary and timely development as ASEAN remains highly vulnerable to climate change, which has had a significant impact on the people, businesses and governments of ASEAN.

Version 1 is a significant step in ASEAN’s sustainability journey, as this initial document will provide the framework for continuing discussions among AMS as the ASEAN Taxonomy develops. In this Blog Post, we highlight key aspects of Version 1 of the ASEAN Taxonomy and compare this new framework against the world’s most prominent sustainability taxonomy, the EU’s Taxonomy Regulation (the “EU Taxonomy“).


Continue Reading ASEAN Releases Sustainability Taxonomy for Southeast Asia

On 1 January 2019, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (MSA 2018) came into force in Australia. The MSA 2018 requires entities based or operating in Australia with an annual consolidated revenue of more than 100 million AUS dollars to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and the actions taken to address those risks. The requirements of the MSA 2018 reflect increasing and strengthening modern slavery obligations around the world (see, for example, our previous Blog Post and earlier Legal Update).

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) has published a report (the Report) evaluating the quality and compliance of reporting by companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX200) during the first reporting cycle under the MSA 2018.  The report sets out a number of recommendations, including how companies can improve their disclosures and how investors can exert their influence to encourage best practice in modern slavery reporting.  Although the recommendations are focused on the ASX200 and the MSA 2018, the Report’s findings are of broader relevance to best practice reporting beyond Australia – and will be of interest to all stakeholders concerned with modern slavery reporting and emerging mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation.


Continue Reading Business and Human Rights – Reinforcing Modern Slavery Reporting – Lessons from Australia

The European Union’s recent passage of its Sustainability Financial Disclosure Regulation marks yet another milestone in the progression of ESG matters. In a new article in The Secured Lender, we review this regulation and related ESG disclosure requirements, together with other notable ESG developments out of Japan and the United States, and discuss their

Much has been going on over a hot summer of ESG (incidentally, July is reported to have been the world’s hottest month ever recorded). In this Blog Post, we help make sense of the busy season and highlight important developments across Europe and Asia, including:

  • The EU’s “Fit for 55” Package and Taxonomy
  • Carbon Disclosures in the UK
  • The Launch of the TNFD
  • Increasing ESG Litigation
  • Climate-related Regulation in Asia


Continue Reading The Summer of ESG: Developments from Europe and Asia

On August 25, 2021, the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), acting on behalf of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), filed a consumer protection lawsuit with the Federal Court of Australia in respect of certain ESG related statements made in a gas company’s 2020 Annual Report (the Report).

This is the first lawsuit in the world that challenges the veracity of a company’s net zero emissions target, and in relation to the viability of carbon capture and storage and the environmental impacts of hydrogen as an energy source, increasingly touted as the key elements in gas companies’ pathways toward net zero emissions.


Continue Reading World-first Lawsuit Over Clean Energy and Zero Emissions Claims