In response to growing investor demand for information concerning companies’ sustainability-related financial risks, the sustainability disclosure landscape has rapidly changed over the last decade.  In what marks one of the latest developments to the sustainability disclosure landscape, on 29 April 2022, the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (“EFRAG“) – a private organisation that provides technical assistance to the European Commission – issued its initial draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards (“ESRS“) for public comment. The ESRS, which EFRAG were tasked with preparing by the European Commission as part of the proposed Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD“), set out proposed requirements for companies to report on sustainability-related impacts, opportunities and risks under the CSRD.

Continue Reading The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group issues draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards

Emissions reporting standards and practices in the private equity sector have been described by certain commentators as being some way behind those in the public markets; certainly the private equity asset class has, so far, received less attention in the context of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)-related reporting developments more generally.  That is changing, however; General Partners (“GPs“) are increasingly called upon to disclose climate-related data and establish greenhouse gas (“GHG“) emissions reduction targets across their portfolios.

There is not, at present, an agreed standard for reporting such information at a fund level, which has resulted in inconsistent approaches being adopted by different funds.  Inconsistencies, of course, potentially impair the ability of investors to make meaningful comparisons between portfolio companies, and indeed between funds.

In an attempt to address this inconsistency, the Initiative Climat International (“ICI“) — a practitioner-led group of private equity funds and investors that represents over USD $3 trillion in assets under management — in partnership with sustainability consultancy group Environmental Resources Management (“ERM“), have taken the proactive step of launching a new, non-binding standard that sets out a consistent approach to GHG disclosure across the private equity sector.  The standard, outlined in the ICI and ERM’s Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting report (the “Report”), aims to better align the disclosure practices of private equity funds with the practices currently adopted by many listed companies in the public markets.

Continue Reading New standard published for Greenhouse Gas Emissions reporting in Private Equity

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 sustainable investing market has witnessed remarkable growth. At the same time, the field has been challenged by a lack of consistency in identifying what, exactly, makes an investment “sustainable”.  Sustainability taxonomies (or classification systems) have been developed by governments, international bodies and non-governmental organizations to help identify specific assets, activities or projects that meet defined thresholds and metrics that quantify sustainability.  Many of these taxonomies refer to or emulate the EU Taxonomy, widely regarded as the most developed system for sustainable finance investment classification and measurement.

Continue Reading ICMA Identifies Usability Challenges – and Recommends Action – for Implementing the EU Taxonomy

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

The sustainable investing market is witnessing remarkable growth: since 2018, annual cash flows into sustainable funds have increased tenfold. Now, more than ever, investors and asset managers alike seek sustainable products and strategies offering robust financial returns. The field, however, has been haunted by greenwashing claims and a lack of consistency in identifying what, exactly, makes an investment “sustainable”.

Sustainability or “green” taxonomies developed by governments, international bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can help resolve these challenges and inconsistencies by identifying specific assets, activities or projects that meet defined thresholds and metrics that quantify sustainability. These systems can cover the full spectrum of sustainability topics, from achieving acceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions to compliance with certain human rights standards. Among other benefits, sustainability taxonomies can:

  • assist investors, asset managers and asset owners in identifying sustainable investment opportunities and constructing sustainable portfolios that align with taxonomy criteria;
  • drive capital more efficiently toward priority sustainability projects;
  • help protect asset managers against claims of greenwashing by providing an independent benchmark for the sustainability performance of investments; and
  • guide future public policies and regulations targeting specific economic activities based on taxonomy criteria.

In this series of Blog Posts, we first provide a brief overview of some of the key existing and developing taxonomies around the world. We then set out our analysis of the ways asset managers are already leveraging taxonomies in their businesses based on a review of publicly available responsible investment reports.  Finally, we highlight certain challenges that asset managers may encounter as these systems develop and interest in sustainable investing continues to grow.

Continue reading this Part III to understand some of the taxonomy-related challenges that asset managers may encounter. You can find Parts I and II here and here.

Continue Reading Leveraging Taxonomies: How Asset Managers Are Using New Sustainability Classification Systems – Part III

Much is heard of the plethora of – often disparate – disclosure regimes and standards around sustainability, and the attendant difficulties for stakeholders, including investors, customers, and the public more generally, of assessing and comparing performance in a meaningful way.  Significant developments in the consolidation of the sustainability disclosure landscape are, however, imminent.

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) – an international consortium of businesses and NGOs that offers companies a framework for reporting environmental information – has announced that it will close down its operations and consolidate with the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) at the end of January 2022.  In addition, the ISSB will complete the consolidation of the Value Reporting Foundation (VRF) – an international NGO that houses the Integrated Reporting Framework and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Standards – by the end of June 2022. These developments mark significant steps towards the ISSB’s ambition to become the world’s leading sustainability standards board.

Continue Reading International Sustainability Standards Board Commences its Streamlining of the Sustainability Disclosure Landscape

The sustainable investing market is witnessing remarkable growth: since 2018, annual cash flows into sustainable funds have increased tenfold. Now, more than ever, investors and asset managers alike seek sustainable products and strategies offering robust financial returns. The field, however, has been haunted by greenwashing claims and a lack of consistency in identifying what, exactly, makes an investment “sustainable”.

Sustainability or “green” taxonomies developed by governments, international bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can help resolve these challenges and inconsistencies by identifying specific assets, activities or projects that meet defined thresholds and metrics that quantify sustainability. These systems can cover the full spectrum of sustainability topics, from achieving acceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions to compliance with certain human rights standards. Among other benefits, sustainability taxonomies can:

  • assist investors, asset managers and asset owners in identifying sustainable investment opportunities and constructing sustainable portfolios that align with taxonomy criteria;
  • drive capital more efficiently toward priority sustainability projects;
  • help protect asset managers against claims of greenwashing by providing an independent benchmark for the sustainability performance of investments; and
  • guide future public policies and regulations targeting specific economic activities based on taxonomy criteria.

In this series of Blog Posts, we first provide a brief overview of some of the key existing and developing taxonomies around the world. We then set out our analysis of the ways asset managers are already leveraging taxonomies in their businesses based on a review of publicly available responsible investment reports.  Finally, we highlight certain challenges that asset managers may encounter as these systems develop and interest in sustainable investing continues to grow.

Continue reading this Part II for our analysis of how asset managers are already leveraging taxonomies. You can find Parts I and III here and here.

Continue Reading Leveraging Taxonomies: How Asset Managers Are Using New Sustainability Classification Systems – Part II

The sustainable investing market is witnessing remarkable growth: since 2018, annual cash flows into sustainable funds have increased tenfold. Now, more than ever, investors and asset managers alike seek sustainable products and strategies offering robust financial returns. The field, however, has been haunted by greenwashing claims and a lack of consistency in identifying what, exactly, makes an investment “sustainable”.

Sustainability or “green” taxonomies developed by governments, international bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can help resolve these challenges and inconsistencies by identifying specific assets, activities or projects that meet defined thresholds and metrics that quantify sustainability. These systems can cover the full spectrum of sustainability topics, from achieving acceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions to compliance with certain human rights standards. Among other benefits, sustainability taxonomies can:

  • assist investors, asset managers and asset owners in identifying sustainable investment opportunities and constructing sustainable portfolios that align with taxonomy criteria;
  • drive capital more efficiently toward priority sustainability projects;
  • help protect asset managers against claims of greenwashing by providing an independent benchmark for the sustainability performance of investments; and
  • guide future public policies and regulations targeting specific economic activities based on taxonomy criteria.

In this series of Blog Posts, we first provide a brief overview of some of the key existing and developing taxonomies around the world. We then set out our analysis of the ways asset managers are already leveraging taxonomies in their businesses based on a review of publicly available responsible investment reports.  Finally, we highlight certain challenges that asset managers may encounter as these systems develop and interest in sustainable investing continues to grow.

Continue reading this Part I for a better understanding of existing and developing taxonomies around the world. You can find Parts II and III here and here.

Continue Reading Leveraging Taxonomies: How Asset Managers Are Using New Sustainability Classification Systems – Part I