On 25 January 2023, the new CEO of the UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), Sarah Cardell, set out one way in which the CMA will seek to ensure that the UK’s transition to a net zero economy will not be held up by competition law concerns. Significantly, Sarah Cardell again emphasised that environmental sustainability is a strategic priority for the CMA. This is an invitation for businesses to start pushing harder on the CMA’s open door, for which Mayer Brown’s ESG team is on hand to help.

Continue Reading Climate change: the CMA’s open door

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 31 January 2023, the UK Government published its Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 (the “EIP”), detailing how it plans to restore nature and improve environmental quality in the UK. In particular, the EIP proposes new commitments to upgrade wastewater treatment works, restore wildlife and promote nature-friendly farming practices. These new commitments underpin the ambitious international targets agreed at the UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 in December 2022, which the UK Government helped deliver (for further information about COP15, read our earlier blog post here).

The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that the EIP “provides the blueprint for how we deliver our commitment to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, making sure we drive forward progress with renewed ambition and achieve our target of not just halting, but reversing the decline of nature“.

Continue Reading UK Government publishes refreshed plans to improve environmental quality and reverse nature decline

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

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 20 December 2022, the Green and Sustainable Finance Cross-Agency Steering Group (the “Steering Group”) co-chaired by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (“HKMA”) and the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) announced that it has entered into a collaboration arrangement with CDP, an international non-profit organisation that runs the global environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions.

Continue Reading HKMA and SFC Cross-Agency Steering Group Announces Collaboration with CDP to Facilitate Climate-Related Risk Disclosures by Small and Medium Enterprises

The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) is taking place in Montreal, Canada, until next Monday (December 19).  It has been attracting much attention due to negotiations on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which is hoped to be agreed upon in the next few days. This would be an important milestone has base been described as the “biodiversity equivalent of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change”.  The aims is to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and establish long-term goals by 2050.

Continue Reading Observations from the COP15 (Biodiversity Conference) Halfway Point

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

COP27 has now come to a close. Against the global backdrop of political and economic turbulence, many questions were asked as to what could realistically be expected as outcomes of COP27. We now have the answers to those questions.

Continue Reading COP27 Postscript – much ado about nothing?

We are half way through COP27, so (disregarding the intersessionals that will take place during 2023), the negotiations will “soon” start to focus on Dubai, the venue for next year’s COP28 summit.  Who knows how much progress will be made before then.  One point to note is that COP27 is more of an “implementation” COP, rather than one with a more grandiose task, such as ramping up climate ambition.

Continue Reading Observations from the COP27 Halfway Point