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

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

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

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

Companies have long been awaiting some more clarity on their reporting obligations vis à vis the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (SCDDA). The BAFA has now shed some light on what is expected of the reporting entities by publishing 38 detailed questions (in addition to some general information on the reporting entity) covering the whole spectrum of due diligence obligations under the SCDDA. 

Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: Supply Chain Due Diligence – Questionnaire for reporting published by German authority