On March 22, 2023, the European Commission (“Commission”) presented its proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims (“Proposed Green Claims Directive”). The Proposed Green Claims Directive is intended to work in tandem with the Commission’s 2022 Proposal for a Directive empowering consumers for the green transition through better protection against unfair practices and better information (“Proposed Greenwashing Directive”). Both Proposed Directives are intended to contribute to the EU’s green transition towards a circular, climate-neutral and clean economy by enabling consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on reliable information about the sustainability of products and traders. In particular, the Proposed Green Claims Directive would create a common methodology for substantiating green claims about the environmental footprint of products, services and companies and require companies making environmental claims to secure a certification of compliance from an independent national “verifier.”
As part of “A Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net Zero Age” to respond to the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) (see our alert), the European Commission (the “Commission”) adopted on 9 March 2023 its Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework for State Aid measures to support the economy following the aggression against Ukraine by Russia (the “TCTF”). The text amends the Temporary Crisis Framework last amended on 28 October 2022 (see our blog).
These are the three most important things you need to know about the TCTF:
- To avoid that an investment would be located outside the European Economic Area (EEA), EU countries may support investments in the manufacturing of relevant equipment for the transition towards a net-zero economy, such as batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps, carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), as well as their key components and critical raw materials necessary for their production. They may even grant aid matching foreign subsidies to support those investments, provided that they are located in the poorer areas of the EU.
- EU countries’ possibilities to grant aid for accelerating the rollout of renewable energy are extended to any renewable technologies, including hydropower, and no longer require a bidding process to select the aided projects that are considered as less mature.
- The TCTF is not a subsidy program, and it is up to EU Member States to provide public funding.
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”).
- Second, the European Commission (“Commission”) is in the process of adopting standards (the so-called “ESRS”) for the EU’s mandatory ESG reporting regime—the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD”)—that will also cover disclosures on companies’ use of carbon credits (including as emission offsets) and their quality.
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.…
The EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age
The US Inflation Reduction Act (the IRA) has raised concerns in the EU about the potential impact on international investment – particularly the possibility that such investment will be pulled into the US, rather than directed to the EU and may encourage ‘green industries’ to relocate production to the US. The EU has been working on an appropriate response that would increase the attractiveness of the EU as a green investment destination without breaching either WTO rules or its own State Aid rules.…
The European Parliament and Council are about to adopt an agreed text on a Regulation on Batteries and Waste Batteries (“Sustainable Batteries Regulation” or “SBR”) that will impose a broad range of requirements on the safety, sustainability and circularity of batteries, including batteries that are part of devices (e.g., laptop batteries), industrial batteries (e.g., large stationary storage applications) and means of transport batteries (e.g., car batteries), as well as extended producer responsibility obligations (including waste take back) on producers marketing them. The SBR is likely to be published in the official journal of the EU within the next couple of months and will repeal and replace the existing EU Directive on Batteries and Waste Batteries.
This post outlines the specific removability and replaceability requirements that the SBR will impose on portable batteries and light means of transport (“LMT”) batteries (e.g., batteries for electric bicycles) marketed in the EU/EEA as of around September/October 2026. The new requirements will oblige producers of appliances to introduce design changes to their appliances and the batteries they incorporate. Moreover, clarifying the details of such requirements is likely to create much controversy and debate among the European Commission, Member States and other stakeholders within the next two years. In effect, the SBR leaves it to the Commission to adopt guidelines interpreting the different removability and replaceability requirements.
The post also briefly mentions the political compromise that the European Parliament and Council reached on the removability and replaceability of electrical vehicle batteries and “starting, lighting and ignition” (“SLI”) batteries, and its emphasis on ensuring that such batteries be removable and replaceable by “independent professionals” (and not just authorized dealers).…
Sustainability governs all policies and sectors of social and economic life. The goal of sustainable development is to meet the needs of today’s generations without compromising the self-sufficiency of future generations. Companies are called upon to innovate as economic conditions indicate a change in the direction of sustainability. Sustainability considerations and green developments have increasingly caught the attention of competition law’s enforcers. Competition authorities such as the European Commission (“Commission”), the Hellenic Competition Commission (“HCC”), the Dutch Competition Authority (“ACM”) and the German Competition Authority (“Bka”) have taken a positive stance towards accepting sustainability initiatives proposed by the private sector. How can companies balance both sustainability and competition law? In this blog post, we analyze recent developments that further explain the sustainability framework that companies have to navigate.…
The European Commission is expected to present a Proposal for a Directive on Green Claims (“Proposed Green Claims Directive” or “the Proposal”) within the next few months. Together with the Proposal for a Directive empowering consumers for the green transition through better protection against unfair practices and better information (“Consumer Empowerment Directive Proposal”), the Proposed Green Claims Directive would contribute to the EU’s green transition towards a circular, climate-neutral and clean economy by creating a common methodology for the substantiation of green claims that concern the environmental footprint of products, services and companies. It would aim to reduce greenwashing and enable consumers to take informed purchasing decisions based on reliable information about the sustainability of products and traders.
If adopted, it is likely to significantly limit the environmental claims that businesses can make in the EU/EEA. Businesses may want to consider approaching the Commission to try to influence the final legislative proposal that it is expected to present by March 2023. Once the Commission presents its legislative proposal, businesses should consider proposing amendments to the European Parliament and Council. …
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.)…
On 6 October 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted a Regulation on an emergency intervention to address high energy prices (the “Regulation”). The Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 7 October. The Regulation has three main elements:
- A requirement to reduce electricity consumption by 5% in peak hours;
- A measure to return the excess revenues or profits of energy companies to the individual Member States; and
- The allocation of proceeds to customers to alleviate retail electricity prices and an extension to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) of the categories of beneficiaries of a possible Member State intervention in the retail price.
The Regulation’s market intervention is exceptional (albeit in response to an extraordinary geopolitical market disruption). It will have widespread positive and negative impacts for energy market sellers and buyers. These circumstances may provoke a range of disputes, transaction (re)structurings or additional compliance obligations that will require expert advice and understanding of the details of the Regulation.…
The European Parliament and Council are in the last stages of the legislative procedure to adopt a Regulation on Batteries and Waste Batteries (“Sustainable Batteries Regulation”), which the European Commission proposed in December 2020. Among other many requirements, the proposed Sustainable Batteries Regulation will require manufacturers to ensure that the portable batteries contained in their electronic devices are removable and replaceable. These requirements will apply to a large variety of electronic devices, including household appliances, IT, telecommunications equipment, and medical devices. They are part of a broader sustainable products package that includes other legislative proposals, such as the Commission proposal for a Regulation on Ecodesign Requirements for Sustainable Products and an upcoming legislative initiative on the right to repair, and will require manufacturers to redesign the electronic devices that they market in the European Union and European Economic Area (“EU/EEA”).…