The European Commission has published a proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (2021/0104) (“CSRD”), which forms just one part of a comprehensive package of sustainable finance measures (see our blog here).  The Commission has put forward these measures in response to demand for stronger and wider sustainability reporting standards, over and above what the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive currently provides.  The CSRD seeks to mandate sustainability reporting and assurance through the amendment of existing EU laws, including the Transparency Directive, the Accounting Directive, and the Audit Directive.  More fundamentally, according to the Commission, it will move the EU one step closer to realizing its aim of having sustainability reporting be “on a par” with financial reporting, in terms of attached weight and importance.  This is reflected in the change of terminology used in the CSRD proposal, from a focus on “non-financial” information reporting, to “sustainability”.

We cover below the background and detail, but in summary, these are the key elements of the CSRD proposal that corporates should be aware of:

  • Scope: The CSRD reporting requirements will apply to all large EU companies and all listed companies, including listed small and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”). This is estimated to cover around 49,000 companies.
  • Reporting: The so-called “double materiality” principle remains, but in-scope companies will now have to report according to mandatory sustainability standards. Simpler and “proportionate” standards will apply to listed SMEs.
  • Audit: The CSRD will require, for the first time, a general EU-wide audit (assurance) requirement for sustainability information.
  • Digitization: The sustainability information must be published in companies’ management reports — and not separately reported — and the information will need to be digitized or “tagged” so it can be incorporated into a planned European Single Access Point.
  • Timing: If the proposal is adopted and standards can be agreed in line with current ambitious estimates, large in-scope companies must comply from financial years starting on or after 1 January 2023, publishing reports from 2024; whilst SMEs have to comply from 1 January 2026.


Continue Reading The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive Proposal: What Companies Need to Know

The European Commission has presented a package of key enabling legislation on sustainable finance (the “Sustainable Finance Package”).  This includes the much-awaited first technical screening criteria under the Taxonomy Regulation — outlined in the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act (“TCDA”) — and a proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD”), which significantly revises and expands on the existing Non-Financial Reporting Directive’s remit and disclosure rules for corporates. While the former is directly aimed at financial institutions and investors, and the latter at large and listed entities, the package has broader implications for all corporates.

Sustainable Finance Package: Context and Comment

The Commission’s intention with its Sustainable Finance Package is twofold: (1) in the short term, to set a clear regulatory framework to encourage investments that will contribute to a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic; and (2) in the long term, to ensure the transition to a carbon neutral EU economy by 2050, in accordance with the 2020 European Climate Law.  Following the adoption of the EU Taxonomy Regulation (explained further below), the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, and the Benchmark Regulation, which enhances the transparency of benchmark methodologies, the Commission has in this legislative package laid out the next building blocks for its envisioned sustainable finance ecosystem.


Continue Reading The EU’s Green Capitalism Takes Shape: Taxonomy Screening Criteria and Corporate Sustainability Reporting

This blog is the seventh in a series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

Grid Modernization and Resiliency

Grid modernization and resiliency are critical and intertwined issues that only grow more important as climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. As the Biden Administration notes in its American Jobs Plan fact sheet, recent power outages in Texas took a tremendous human and economic toll, and power outages generally cost the country $70 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. In light of that figure, the American Jobs Plan’s proposed $100 billion dollar investment in grid modernization may be too conservative. When factoring in health and environmental benefits, the return on investment for an improved grid looks to be extraordinarily robust.
Continue Reading Grid Modernization and Greenhouse Gases

Today, on Earth Day, the United States made a bold move to resume international leadership on climate change by announcing the United States’ new target to achieve a 50 to 52 percent reduction in economy-wide greenhouse gas pollution from 2005 levels by 2030.  The President announced the target on the first day of the Leaders Summit on Climate, which he is hosting to raise ambition and set the stage for a successful United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) later this year in Glasgow.
Continue Reading The United States’ New Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and the ABCs of the American Jobs Plan (AJP)

On March 25, 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (“GGPPA”), which establishes a national pricing benchmark for greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. Reference re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, case numbers 38663, 38781, and 39116. Several provinces challenged the law, arguing that it was unconstitutional and that it imposed unlawful taxes. In upholding the constitutionality of Canada’s federal pricing program, the decision is a strong affirmation of the need to impose a uniform price on carbon emissions across jurisdictions and has some significant “upshot” implications for businesses and policymakers in the United States.
Continue Reading Canada Given Green Light to Carbon Pricing: The Supreme Court of Canada Upholds the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act