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 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 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

This Lexis practice note discusses market trends in 2021 relating to disclosures of climate change risks and mitigation by public companies, which are intertwined with ESG issues. It also provides illustrative disclosures by public companies regarding how climate change has affected or may affect their operations, both directly (e.g., through disruption of supply chains)

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 Brazilian Securities Commission (CVM) issued, on December 22, 2021, CVM Resolution No. 59 (RCVM 59), which amends CVM Rule No. 480 (CVM Rule 480). This new normative arises from Public Consultation No. 09, closed in March 2021, and brings substantial innovations on the informational regime for issuers of securities. Indeed, the reform promotes a reduction in the cost of compliance for issuers and greater accessibility of information to investors by eliminating redundancies and simplifying the content required in the Reference Form, the main document of publicly-held companies in Brazil.

However, most importantly, through RCVM 59, CVM in an unprecedented way establishes criteria and requirements for the disclosure of information on environmental, social and governance aspects, which was previously a mere deliberation of issuers to attract investors engaged in ESG aspects, and it was not foreseen in any regulation of the autarchy.

Continue Reading Brazilian Securities Commission Establishes ESG Information Disclosure Criteria for Listed Companies

On December 15, 2021, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) responded to two consultations addressing a range of ESG-related topics that could significantly change the ESG reporting landscape for listed companies in Singapore. The consultations address the implementation of (i) mandatory climate-related disclosures for certain sectors aligned with the Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), (ii) mandatory diversity-related disclosures for all issuers and (iii) a list of 27 “Core ESG Metrics” to help listed companies align their ESG disclosures with international standards and best practices on a voluntary basis.

As SGX otherwise requires ESG reporting on a comply-or-explain basis only, these proposals represent a shift toward an increased focus on mandatory climate and diversity disclosures that, in particular, has taken hold among Asian regulators. Just this month, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong implemented mandatory gender diversity requirements and Hong Kong’s Cross-Agency Steering Group reported “progress towards mandating climate-related disclosures aligned with the TCFD framework by 2025 across relevant sectors”, while a group of Malaysian regulators announced their intention to implement mandatory TCFD disclosures by the end of 2024.

In this Blog Post, we highlight key aspects of the recent SGX announcements and provide guidance on how companies are already implementing ESG frameworks incorporating TCFD and more.

Continue Reading Singapore Regulator Prioritizes TCFD, Diversity and ESG Metrics in New Disclosure Rules and Guidance

Many UK companies will soon be mandated to make TCFD-aligned disclosures. This follows the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) introduction of the Listing Rules (Disclosure of Climate-Related Financial Information) Instrument in December 2020, which requires companies with a UK premium listing to disclose on a comply-or-explain basis against the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations in their annual reports. The FCA and UK Government have held consultations on extending this requirement to standard-listed and large private companies.

To help companies comply with these disclosure requirements, the Financial Reporting Council’s Financial Reporting Lab (the ‘Lab‘) has recently published a ‘TCFD: ahead of mandatory reporting’ report (the ‘Report‘), which provides examples of good disclosure practices by companies that have already voluntarily adopted the TCFD framework. The Report refers to research recently conducted by the Alliance Manchester Business School on the approaches companies have taken to conducting climate-related scenario analysis (the ‘Research‘), which is required in order to comply with the TCFD recommendations. Together, the Report and the Research provide holistic practical advice for companies on making TCFD-aligned disclosures, which is also relevant for non UK based companies who are considering how best to address the TCFD recommendations.

Continue Reading TCFD: Preparing for Mandatory Reporting

‘With the most significant change since the GRI Standards launched in 2016, the revised Universal Standards set a new global benchmark for corporate transparency. Fully addressing gaps between the available disclosure frameworks and intergovernmental expectations for responsible business, including human rights reporting, they will enable more effective and comprehensive reporting than ever before.’

Judy Kuszewski, Chair of GRI’s Independent Global Sustainability Standard’s Board

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) have revised their Universal Standards to emphasize and require more transparency in reporting on human rights impacts and due diligence obligations. This is a significant update because all entities reporting in accordance with the GRI standards are required to report on the Universal Standards (now GRI 1, 2 and 3). Previously, human rights-related disclosures were addressed largely in the GRI 400 series on Social topics, on which an organization is required to report only if it determines those topics to be material. Under the revised Universal Standards, all companies reporting in accordance with the GRI Standards will need to be able to identify (and disclose) how they identify severe risks to the economy, environment and people—this now clearly includes impacts on human rights connected with their business, and what they are doing to address these risks.

This development is part of a multi-phase project to update the GRI’s human rights-related disclosures, and the emphasis on “double materiality” brings the GRI standards in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and emerging mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation (see our Previous Blogs here and here).  For companies that already adhere to the UNGPs, these revisions may not present a significant new challenge in practice; however, for companies that have not to date sought to explicitly adhere to the UNGPs, this will present a new challenge in terms of meeting the revised GRI standards.

Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: Revised GRI Standards Integrate UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and Foreshadow Emerging Mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence Legislation

The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Corporation Finance (Division) published a sample letter with comments that the Staff intends to issue to public companies regarding their climate change disclosures—or lack thereof—in SEC filings. As explained in a prior Mayer Brown post, Commissioner Lee, when she was Acting Chair of the SEC earlier this year, directed the Staff to increase its attention on the ways in which public companies implement the SEC’s 2010 Guidance Regarding Disclosure Related to Climate Change, which provides direction to companies regarding the SEC rules that may require disclosure about climate change, despite the fact that climate change is not explicitly referenced in the existing rules.

The SEC’s disclosure requirements are largely principles-based and may require different information from different companies, including climate change-related information.

Continue Reading US SEC Division of Corporation Finance Publishes Sample Letter to Companies Regarding Climate Change Disclosures