The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rulemaking process has received much attention under Chair Gensler’s leadership not only because of the volume and substance of proposed rules, but also because of the relatively short comment periods allotted for the public to respond pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act process. As just one example of

Investors are increasingly focussed on how companies address modern slavery and wider human rights issues when making investment decisions.  Despite this, many UK companies are failing to adequately report on, and take sufficient steps to eradicate, modern slavery within their businesses and supply chains, according to the Financial Reporting Council’s (the “FRC“) recently published Modern Slavery Reporting Practices in the UK Report (the “Report”).

The Report, which analysed the reporting practices of 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market, highlighted that the majority of companies are failing to disclose sufficient information to enable stakeholders to make informed decisions about companies’ compliance with modern slavery legislation.  Such shortcomings in the quality of companies’ modern slavery reporting presents a number of compliance, reputational and financial risks to companies.

Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: the Financial Reporting Council identifies failings in UK companies’ modern slavery reporting

On April 7, 2022, the federal government of Canada released its Budget 2022 (Budget), which includes significant measures by the Canadian government to build its Net-Zero Economy and to fight climate change. In the Budget, the Canadian government is committed to move towards mandatory reporting of climate-related financial risks across a broad spectrum of Canadian economy, based on the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework. The new reporting requirements will be applicable to, among others, federally regulated banks and insurers, which “play a prominent role in shaping Canada’s economy” – as noted in the Budget.

Continue Reading Canada to Impose Mandatory Climate Disclosures on Banks and Insurers

In the latest of a series of actions by the Biden-Harris administration aimed at reducing the federal government’s carbon footprint, the US General Services Administration (GSA) has issued new national standards for the concrete and asphalt used in GSA building and paving projects.1 The standards apply to concrete and asphalt provided by GSA’s prime contractors, furthering efforts to prioritize carbon-reduction in federal contracting and to leverage the federal government’s purchasing power in support of the transition to a zero-carbon economy. GSA plans to use these standards for all GSA projects involving at least 10 cubic yards of concrete or asphalt, including GSA projects carried out under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.2

Continue Reading Clean Slate: US GSA Issues New Standards for Environmental Attributes of Concrete and Asphalt

­In a previous blog post, we noted that the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) will shortly publish its proposed general sustainability-related and climate disclosure requirements.

On 31 March 2022, the ISSB published highly anticipated drafts of IFRS S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information (General Requirements Exposure Draft) and IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures (Climate Exposure Draft) for public consultation and comments. Each of the Exposure Drafts are accompanied by a ‘Basis for Conclusions’ and ‘Illustrative Guidance’ document. A high-level summary of the proposed requirements is available here.

Continue Reading International Sustainability Standards Board Begins Public Consultation on Draft Proposed Standards on General Sustainability-Related Financial and Climate-Related Disclosures

The move towards consolidated, aligned, sustainability disclosure requirements, long identified as an essential element of sustainability efforts, took a major step forward last week.  On 24 March 2022, the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (“IFRS Foundation”) and the Global Reporting Initiative (“GRI”) announced a collaboration agreement, the purpose of which is to seek to align their capital market and multi-stakeholder focussed sustainability disclosure regimes (the “Agreement“).  The Agreement represents the latest development in the IFRS Foundation’s efforts to consolidate the plethora of – sometimes disparate – international sustainability reporting regimes into a consolidated, more cohesive, framework, for the benefit of companies, investors and society at large.

Continue Reading International Sustainability Standards Board and Global Sustainability Standards Board to align their sustainability disclosure standards

On March 21, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3:1, with only Commissioner Hester Peirce dissenting, to propose long-awaited rules that, if adopted, would require extensive reporting by public companies of climate change-related disclosure and related attestation (the “Proposal”). Comments on the Proposal are due 30 days after

On 11 February, the European Securities and Markets Authority (“ESMA“) published its Sustainable Finance Roadmap for 2022-2024 (the “Roadmap“).

The Roadmap builds on ESMA’s 2020 Strategy for Sustainable Finance and will be of interest to those in the EU and beyond looking to understand the focus and ambition of the EU’s

Disclosure of information on the ESG-related risks facing financial institutions is widely recognised as a vital tool to promoting market discipline.  It enables stakeholders to assess the risks presented to financial institutions by issues such as climate change, social and governance risks, whilst also allowing stakeholders to review the sustainable finance strategies of financial institutions.  In light of this, governments are increasingly introducing different mandatory ESG-related reporting requirements for financial institutions, such as TCFD-aligned reporting requirements (for further information on TCFD-aligned reporting requirements, please see our previous blog posts here and here).

Adding to the plethora of existing ESG-related reporting requirements, on 24 January 2022, the European Banking Authority (“EBA“) published its final draft implementing technical standards on Pillar 3 disclosures on ESG risks (the “Final Draft ITS“).  The Final Draft ITS sets out mandatory templates, tables and instructions that supplement the EBA’s ‘Pillar 3 package’ prudential reporting requirements (the “Reporting Requirements“), which certain EU-based financial institutions will be required to comply with under the Capital Requirements Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 575/2013) (the “CRR“).

Continue Reading The European Banking Authority publishes new ESG reporting requirements

This Lexis practice note discusses market trends in 2021 relating to disclosures of climate change risks and mitigation by public companies, which are intertwined with ESG issues. It also provides illustrative disclosures by public companies regarding how climate change has affected or may affect their operations, both directly (e.g., through disruption of supply chains)