Given the ambitious targets for offshore wind in support of the UK’s net zero ambitions, it is recognised that the existing grid connection infrastructure may be inadequate and that it is likely that provision needs to be made for more co-ordinated grid connections that incorporate the additional capability required to connect future offshore generation projects.

The risk of an accusation of “greenwashing” is now an important concern for many companies. Greenwashing is an ill-defined concept but, nevertheless, is increasingly a source of litigation and regulatory scrutiny – with more of both expected. It carries with it reputational, regulatory and litigation risks for which companies should be prepared. Whilst the risks are always context specific – varying by jurisdiction, industry

A new requirement for most developments to achieve a minimum level of “biodiversity net gain” will come into force in November this year.  For some this will be an additional burden when preparing planning applications, but others will see it as an opportunity to create value through enhancing biodiversity whilst burnishing their “green” credentials.

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On 7 June 2023, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA“) – the UK’s independent advertising regulator – banned a series of advertisements from a number of large oil and gas companies for including misleading information about their socio-environmental credentials. These landmark rulings, which mark the latest step in the ASA’s fight against greenwashing, are expected to set a precedent for how companies advertise their socio-environmental credentials in the future. More broadly, the increased regulatory scrutiny will likely feed into the expected rise in ESG-related litigation.

This move from the ASA mirrors similar moves by regulators and law-makers both in the UK and in other jurisdictions. The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has, for example, commenced investigations into the accuracy of environmental claims made by businesses in the fast-moving consumer goods sector (for further information on the CMA’s investigation, read our earlier blog post here). The US Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission have also taken steps to tighten regulation addressing greenwashing in marketing materials (for further information on these initiatives, read our earlier blog posts here and here).Continue Reading Greenwashing: UK advertising watchdog bans greenwashing advertisements

On 30 March 2023, the UK Government published an updated Green Finance Strategy (the “Strategy“). The Strategy, which updates the UK’s 2019 Green Finance Strategy, outlines how “continued UK leadership on green finance will cement the UK’s place at the forefront of this growing global market, and how we will mobilise the investment needed to meet our climate and nature objectives“.Continue Reading The future of green finance in the UK: UK Government publishes updated Green Finance Strategy

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA“) recently published its Discussion Paper (DP23/1) on ‘Finance for positive sustainable change’ (“DP23/1“) as part of its ongoing effort to promote sustainable finance and align the financial sector with the UK’s environmental, social, and governance (“ESG“) goals. DP23/1 draws on the Task

In what marks its latest move to tackle modern slavery, on 10 February 2023, the UK Government published its new guide for commercial and procurement professionals, entitled “Tackling Modern Slavery in Government Supply Chains” (the “Guidance”). The Guidance is aimed at helping procurement and commercial practitioners at all levels who are operating in government comply with their statutory obligations in respect of modern slavery. It builds on the UK Government’s “Slavery and human trafficking in supply chains: guidance for businesses” and its modern slavery statement Progress Report.Continue Reading Business and Human Rights – the UK Government publishes new guidance on tackling modern slavery in Government Supply Chains

The Pensions Regulator has launched a campaign to ensure that trustees are meeting their ESG and climate change reporting obligations.

Trustees of occupational pension schemes with 100+ members are required to prepare:

  • A statement of investment principles (“SIP”) which, among other things, must include the trustees’ policy in relation to financially material ESG and climate change considerations.
  • An annual implementation statement setting out how certain aspects of the SIP have been followed during the scheme year.

Both documents must be published on a website that is accessible free of charge by the general public. Trustees must report on compliance with this obligation in the scheme return.Continue Reading ESG and climate change – new Pensions Regulator campaign

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