On March 3 and 14, 2022, the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (“EFRAG”) published its most recent set of Working Papers on the future of the EU’s European Sustainability Reporting Standards (“ESRS”). The ESRS will establish dozens of sustainability-related disclosure requirements that will be mandatory for thousands of EU companies under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD”) (see our blog on the CSRD as background). Companies subject to the CSRD will be required to include these disclosures in their annual reports, and these disclosures will need to be audited. Importantly, this is the first time EFRAG has provided significant detail regarding reporting standards for topics that fall under the “S” pillar of the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) framework. The European Commission is currently aiming to have the CSRD and ESRS apply from January 2023, with initial reports due in 2024, and EFRAG will hold public consultations on its draft reporting standards in the coming months.

Continue Reading European Reporting Standards for the “S” in ESG: EFRAG’s New CSRD Disclosure Requirements for Workers and Human Rights Take Shape

On February 2, 2022, the European Commission adopted a Complementary Climate Delegated Act (the “CCDA”) listing specific gas and nuclear activities as “environmentally sustainable” for purposes of the EU Taxonomy Regulation, subject to strict criteria. Only certain activities that comply with strict emissions limits and other criteria detailed below may be so designated. Even so, the Commission’s decision to list nuclear and gas activities as “environmentally sustainable” is controversial and may still be blocked by EU Member States and the European Parliament through an upcoming scrutiny period, and may also be legally challenged before the EU Courts. Nevertheless there is a significant chance that the Commission’s criteria to consider the listed gas and nuclear activities as “environmentally sustainable” will enter into force by the beginning of 2023. This would allow such listed gas and nuclear activities to have access to green investors and ear-marked public funds under the EU’s Next Generation EU investment program.

Continue Reading Gas and Nuclear Activities in the EU Taxonomy Regulation: Under What Conditions Does the Commission Deem Them Environmentally Sustainable?

Addressing climate change has been a priority for President Biden since his first day in office.  On December 8, 2021, President Biden continued that focus by issuing Executive Order (EO) 14057, Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability, which includes a number of requirements directed at introducing sustainability to federal acquisitions.

Continue Reading Contractors Have an Opportunity to Help Shape ESG Requirements

The European Commission seeks stakeholders’ feedback until 18 November on its proposal to define cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy generation that would be eligible to receive EU funding under Connecting European Facility instrument.

Continue Reading European Commission Opens Public Consultation to Define Selection Criteria for Renewable Energy Projects Eligible of EU Funding

This is the twentieth in our series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

As discussed in an earlier post, the American Jobs Plan adopts an expansive definition of “infrastructure” to address systemic inequities and benefit society as a whole. However, the AJP also addresses what is typically called “core infrastructure” by proposing substantial investments to repair and modernize our nation’s roads, highways, bridges, airports, ports, and railways. As with other aspects of the AJP, the President’s investments seek to address climate and sustainability concerns and the creation of American jobs by, among other things, using sustainable and innovative building materials that are made in America.
Continue Reading Tackling Transportation, Traffic, and Transit Troubles

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

 The American Jobs Plan (AJP) envisions moving to 100 percent carbon pollution-free power by 2035.  To do this, the Plan contemplates sweeping updates to the power sector to increase use of zero-emissions electricity and modernize the physical infrastructure to make it cleaner, more resilient, and more cost-effective for end users.

The AJP’s reimagining of the American power sector is a critical component of the President’s goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, as significant investments in electric vehicles (EV), EV charging, and electric heat pumps for both commercial and residential dwellings are intended to accelerate the nation’s progress in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Continue Reading Pioneering a Net Zero Emissions Future through Investments in Power

As of July 3, single-use plastic products marketed in the EU/EEA must comply with the requirements and restrictions of Directive 2019/904 on the Reduction of the Impact of Certain Plastic Products on the Environment (“Single-Use Plastic Directive” –  “SUPD”).  To help Member States implement the SUPD into their national laws and apply its requirements, on May 31, 2021, the European Commission published its long-awaited Guidelines on the Scope of the SUPD.  The Guidelines take different and controversial approaches on the scope the SUPD and the nature of plastics and continue to leave important issues unanswered.
Continue Reading New EU Restrictions on Single-Use Plastic Products to Enter into Force

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 is the eleventh in our series on the “ABCs of the AJP.”

America’s kids are the beneficiaries of many of the provisions of President Biden’s Jobs Plan, and several of the proposals would benefit them and their caretakers specifically.  Children have become a focus point of discussions about climate change, because absent intervention they are poised to inherit a world that suffers from its negative effects without having contributed meaningfully to the emissions that bring it about.  This has been a central narrative of the long-running Juliana litigation, for example.  The Biden Administration has also recognized the intergenerational inequity of climate change in other policy initiatives, for example in its ongoing efforts to revise the social cost of greenhouse gases.
Continue Reading Kids and a Sustainable Future