Companies have a substantial impact on human rights when carrying out their business activities. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights set the expectation that companies conduct human rights and environmental due diligence (“HREDD“) with respect to their business activities, which includes assessing and responding to actual and potential human rights issues.

The expectation for companies to conduct HREDD is increasingly becoming mandated by legislators across the globe. For example, in Germany the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act will enter into force on 1 January 2023. It is arguably the most comprehensive law in this area to date, since in-scope companies will have to comprehensively analyse their global supply chains, assess the risks within their supply chains and act accordingly. Further, in the European Union an equivalent directive is upcoming. The European Commission’s draft corporate sustainability and due diligence directive (the “Draft Directive“) – which is anticipated to be adopted in 2023 – sets out a proposed HREDD standard, under which companies will be obliged to identify actual and potential adverse human rights and environmental issues arising from their operations or those of their subsidiaries and, where related to their value chains, from their “established business relationships” (for more information on the Draft Directive, read our earlier blog posts here and here). Involving and engaging stakeholders in a meaningful way will be critical for in-scope companies to successfully implement HREDD processes and ensure compliance with these obligations.

To help companies engage with stakeholders, the UN Global Compact Network Germany (“GCNG“) – an organisation created to assist companies in meeting their human rights-related responsibilities – has recently published its “What makes stakeholder engagement meaningful? 5 insights from practice” report (the “GCNG Report“). The GCNG Report highlights five “selected success factors” that companies can adopt to help ensure their engagement with stakeholders is effective and meaningful.

Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: meaningful stakeholder engagement in due diligence

In a timely episode of Tools of the Trade, Mayer Brown Chair Jon Van Gorp and Management Committee member Sally Davies take on a topic of increasing importance: environmental, social and governance principles, commonly referred to as ESG. Their primary guest, David Carpenter, is one of three co-leaders (with Mark Uhrynuk and James Whitaker) of

**A Chinese version of this blog post follows the English version.**

On 19 August 2022, the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), the National Bureau of Statistics (“NBS”), and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (“MEE“) of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) jointly issued the “Implementation Plan on the Accelerating the Establishment of a Unified and Standardised Carbon Emission Statistical Accounting System (the “System”)” (the “Plan“).

Continue Reading China Issues a Plan to Establish a Carbon Emission Statistical Accounting System

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) and Financial Reporting Council (“FRC”) have published the findings of their respective reviews of the first batch of premium listed companies’ Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (“TCFD”)-aligned disclosures (the “Reports”). The FCA’s review involved a relatively high-level quantitative assessment of climate-related disclosures made by 171 premium listed companies, and a more detailed qualitative assessment of the alignment of those disclosures with the TCFD Recommendations for 31 of those companies. The FRC’s review, on the other hand, involved a more granular analysis of the disclosures of 25 premium listed companies that are perceived to face greater climate change-related risks.

Continue Reading The UK’s FCA and FRC review the quality of companies’ TCFD disclosures

On 28 July 2022, 161 States voted in favour of a United Nations General Assembly (“UNGA“) resolution declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a universal human right (“UNGA Resolution“). In a remarkable display of global solidarity, the resolution received zero ‘against’ votes, and eight ‘abstain’ votes. This vote follows the passing of a similar resolution in the United National Human Rights Council in October 2021. UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd, hailed the UNGA Resolution as having the potential “to be a turning point for humanity”.

Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: New Universal Human Right To Access A Clean, Healthy And Sustainable Environment

The Biden Administration’s attempt to tackle the climate crisis has made its way to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Executive Order 14008, dated January 27, 2021, stated “domestic action [on climate change] must go hand in hand with United States international leadership, aimed at significantly enhancing global action,” and called on government agencies to take action.[1] In response, this June, the USPTO unveiled the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program (the Pilot Program) in response to Executive Order 14008. The Pilot Program “is designed to positively impact the climate by accelerating examination of patent applications for innovations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”[2]

Continue Reading USPTO Rolls Out the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program in Response to Executive Order 14008 on Climate Change

Litigation is increasingly being used as a means of advancing – or delaying – effective climate action.

As discussed in our recent legal update on the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment’s 2021 Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation Policy Report (the “2021 Report“), between 2015 and 2021, there was a marked increase in the number of such climate-related cases being brought against 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.

Most recently, the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment’s 2022 Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation Policy Report (the “2022 Report“) confirms that litigation against private sector actors continues to expand as an avenue for climate action.  We discuss the trends identified in the 2022 Report in this blog post.

Continue Reading The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment publishes its 2022 global trends in climate litigation report

On 1 July 2022, the Brazilian Supreme Court issued a ruling on ADPF 708 (Ação de Descumprimento de Preceito Fundamental), which is another climate litigation case under the court’s scrutiny (please read here and here for more information about other climate litigation cases submitted to the Brazilian Supreme Court). In summary, political parties filed ADPF 708 in June 2020, claiming the Brazilian Federal Administration had not taken appropriate measures to ensure allocation and use of funds from the Brazilian Climate Fund, which is supposed to play an important role in “climate financing”, pursuant to the Paris Agreement, by supporting climate change mitigation projects in Brazil.

Continue Reading BRAZILIAN SUPREME COURT RECOGNIZES THE PARIS AGREEMENT AS A HUMAN RIGHTS TREATY

A lot can happen in ESG in three days. By Wednesday last week, there were three important developments in the world of ESG and sustainable finance from the European Securities and Markets Authority (“ESMA”), the International Capital Markets Association (“ICMA”) and the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”). Read more

On June 30, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court decided West Virginia et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, holding that the EPA lacks authority under Section 7411(d) of the Clean Air Act to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants through “generation shifting,” i.e., increasing the use of cleaner energy sources like wind and