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Paul Mertenskötter

Paul Mertenskötter is an associate in the firm’s Brussels office and a member of the Public Policy and International Trade practice groups. He advises multinational companies, governments, and other clients on a range of matters related to public policy, international trade, and new technologies. Mr. Mertenskötter’s practice encompasses advising clients on the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy, including on the Payment Services Directive (PSD 2).

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Mertenskötter clerked at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and was a Fellow at the Institute for International Law and Justice at NYU Law School. His work has been published with Oxford University Press and the Cornell Law Review.

On May 28, the Biden-Harris Administration issued the Voluntary Carbon Markets Joint Policy Statement and Principles (Policy Statement).  You can find Covington’s analysis of the Policy Statement here.  Jointly announced by the U.S. Secretaries of Treasury, Agriculture, and Energy, and senior White House climate officials, the Policy Statement describes a three-pronged approach to responsible carbon market development and participation: (1) credit or supply integrity, including protections regarding climate and environmental justice; (2) demand integrity, to ensure the credible use of credits; and (3) market-level integrity, including facilitating efficient market participation and lowering transaction costs.  The Policy Statement builds on other recent federal actions, including the Commodities Futures Trading Commission’s 2023 proposed guidance for voluntary carbon credit derivatives and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s final climate risk disclosure rule, which requires certain disclosures related to carbon offset purchases, in the Administration’s attention to and elevation of the voluntary carbon market as an important element in the nation’s climate policy. 

In this post, we dive deeper into the voluntary carbon market landscape, implications for business, and additional recent developments. Continue Reading Engaging in Voluntary Carbon Markets: Overview of Key Developments, Risks, and Opportunities

In the early hours of December 14, 2023, the Council of the EU (“Council”) and the European Parliament (“Parliament”) reached a provisional political agreement on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (“CSDDD”). Described as a “historic breakthrough” by Lara Wolters, who has led this file for the Parliament, the CSDDD will require many companies in the EU and beyond to conduct environmental and human rights due diligence on their global operations and value chain, and oblige them to adopt a transition plan for climate change mitigation.

Given the CSDDD’s relevance for companies’ ongoing compliance planning on environmental and human rights matters, this blog aims to advise clients on the basic elements of the CSDDD agreement based on press releases from the Council, Parliament, and the European Commission (“Commission”), even if much uncertainty remains. Although a political agreement has been reached, the text of the agreement is not publicly available and a number of details of the legal text will need to be finalized in follow-up technical meetings. Covington will publish a more detailed alert on “how to prepare” for the CSDDD once the full text is available (likely in early 2024).Continue Reading Provisional Agreement on the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD): Key Elements of the Deal

What You Need to Know.

  • After two days of intense negotiations, world leaders adopted a draft decision that sets out international climate priorities in response to the findings of the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement.  The decision covers several thematic areas, including mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation and resilience in the face of climate change, financing and means of implementation and support for climate projects, and loss and damage funding for climate-vulnerable nations.  The text of the draft decision can be found on the UNFCCC’s website here.

Continue Reading COP28 Final Negotiations Recap: A Global Agreement to Transition Away from Fossil Fuels

What You Need to Know.

  • Azerbaijan is poised to host COP29 next year after receiving regional backing.  If formally confirmed, Azerbaijan’s COP Presidency would resolve months of deadlock.  It will also trigger criticism that next year’s COP will again be hosted by a nation heavily dependent on fossil fuel exports.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 10 Recap: Food in Focus, and a Look Ahead to COP29 and COP30

What You Need to Know.

  • The UNFCCC has released a draft text of the negotiated outcome of the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement.  The draft text currently includes four options to address the question of “phasing out” versus “phasing down” the use of fossil fuels, with the strongest option’s wording being “[a] phase out of fossil fuels in line with best available science.”  Options with weaker wording would call on the Parties to the Paris Agreement to take action towards “phasing out unabated fossil fuels and to rapidly reducing their use so as to achieve net-zero CO2 in energy systems by or around mid-century.”

Continue Reading COP28 Day 8 Recap: Empowering Global Youth and a Look Towards Final Negotiations

What You Need to Know. 

  • “We very much believe and respect the science,” said COP28 President Al Jaber on Monday after it had been reported that he had earlier commented that there was “no science” behind requiring the phase-out of fossil fuels to limit global warming to 1.5C. President Al Jaber went on to say that “the phase down and the phase out of fossil fuel is inevitable.”  This statement comes after heavy criticism from climate activists and scientists of President Al Jaber’s earlier comments, further emphasizing the centrality of the “phase down” vs. “phase out” debate as a wedge issue at this COP.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 5 Recap: Climate Finance Continues to Grow and Carbon Offsets Face More Regulation

Laws and regulations that require companies, both private and public, to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to expand in the European Union and in the United States.  Under the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), beginning in 2025, EU-based public companies and large EU-based private companies will be required to report all material Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions as set forth in the European Sustainability Reporting Standards.  In the United States, California recently passed landmark climate-related disclosure legislation that will require U.S. companies that do business in California and have greater than $1 billion in annual revenues to file annual reports publicly disclosing their Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions beginning in 2026 and Scope 3 GHG emissions in 2027.  This legislation is expected to be joined by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed climate-related disclosure rule.  Initially proposed in March 2022, if finalized, the SEC rule would require public companies to disclose their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions and material Scope 3 emissions.  And later this year, world policymakers, activists, and business leaders will convene at COP28 to discuss global progress towards achieving the net-zero GHG emissions targets set by the Paris Agreement.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) sits at the center of all these efforts.  Established by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Counsel for Sustainable Development in 2001, the GHG Protocol establishes comprehensive standards for private and public entities to calculate and report their GHG emissions and track progress towards their emissions targets.

Continue Reading Calculating and Reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A Primer on the GHG Protocol

On September 13, 2023, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1305 (AB 1305), which imposes wide-ranging disclosure requirements on (1) entities that market or sell voluntary carbon offsets and (2) entities that purchase and rely on these offsets to advertise their climate goals.  The bill has been enrolled and is currently on Governor Newsom’s desk.

AB 1305 comes on the heels of escalating criticism of voluntary carbon offsets, including arguments that corporations use low-quality offsets to engage in greenwashing.  AB 1305 is likely to prompt companies to engage in careful due diligence before making climate-related claims and to ensure that they rely on high-quality offsets that correspond to real emission reductions or removals.Continue Reading Law Enacted by California Legislature Would Require Companies to Disclose Key Details About Voluntary Carbon Offsets and Claims Made in Reliance Upon Them

The European Union (“EU”) is coming closer to adopting mandatory rules for companies that use carbon credits.

  • First, the European Parliament and Council are considering for adoption a Commission for a Regulation on a Carbon Removal Certification Framework (“CRCF Regulation Proposal”).

These two regulatory initiatives are closely tied to each other.  In effect, the draft ESRS that the Commission is considering for adoption require subject entities to disclose GHG removals and GHG mitigation projects financed through carbon credits.

The EU’s aim of regulating carbon credits coincides with its push for carbon neutrality by 2050, and a related significant proliferation of companies publicly committing to achieve “net-zero” emissions by mid-century, which has triggered an uptick in strategic purchases of carbon credits in the voluntary carbon market (“VCM”). The CRCF Regulation Proposal and the upcoming ESRS will help to expand sustainable and verified carbon removals and encourage investment in technological innovation.   

Companies turning to the VCM to reach their net zero goals, and others active in the generation, trading, and use of carbon credits, will want to follow these initiatives closely.  Opportunities remain for companies to express views that may shape the final contours of these regulations.Continue Reading The EU’s Emerging Mandatory Disclosure and Certification Rules for Carbon Credits

The European Union (“EU”) has passed the world’s most far-reaching mandatory environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) reporting regime.

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD”) will apply to an initial group of large EU companies from 2024 and gradually extend its reach to smaller companies over the course of the following four years. It is ultimately expected to apply to more than 50,000 companies incorporated, listed, or doing business in the EU. Notably, from 2028 the CSRD will apply to non-EU parent companies that generate more than EUR 150M of net turnover in the EU and have at least one EU subsidiary subject to the CSRD (or a local branch of a certain size). (See Appendix for a table with detailed information on the CSRD’s application thresholds and dates.)Continue Reading EU Mandatory ESG Reporting Takes Shape: CSRD is Passed and EFRAG Adopts Draft ESRS