ESG

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

Last week, the California Legislature passed two bills comprising the core of a landmark “Climate Accountability Package.”  Together, the two bills will impose extensive new climate-related disclosure obligations on thousands of U.S. public and private companies with operations in California.  Senate Bill 253 (SB 253) would require companies with greater than $1 billion in annual revenues to file annual reports publicly disclosing their Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Senate Bill 261 (SB 261) would require companies with greater than $500 million in annual revenues to prepare biennial reports disclosing climate-related financial risk and describing measures adopted to mitigate and adapt to that risk.

Yesterday afternoon during an appearance at Climate Week NYC, Governor Newsom told the audience emphatically, “of course I will sign those bills.”  When he does, many more companies will be required to improve the accuracy, completeness and rigor of their GHG reporting and climate risk disclosures. Because of the complexity of GHG reporting, we have focused the remainder of this post on SB 253.  Please see our separate post on SB 261 here.Continue Reading California Legislature Passes Landmark Climate Disclosure Laws: Spotlight on SB 253

Last week, the California Legislature passed two bills as part of the state’s landmark “Climate Accountability Package.”  If signed by Governor Newsom as anticipated, the two laws—Senate Bill 253 (SB 253) and Senate Bill 261 (SB 261)—will usher in significant climate-related disclosure requirements for thousands of U.S. public and private companies that do business in California.

SB 253 and SB 261 mark the most extensive emissions- and climate-disclosure laws enacted in the United States to date.  SB 253 requires companies with greater than $1 billion in annual revenues to file annual reports publicly disclosing their direct, indirect, and supply chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, verified by an independent and experienced third-party provider.  SB 261 requires companies with $500 million in annual revenues to prepare biennial reports disclosing climate-related financial risk and measures they have adopted to reduce and adapt to that risk, with the first report due by January 1, 2026.

This post focuses on SB 261’s climate-related financial risk disclosure requirements. You can find our post on SB 253’s GHG emissions reporting requirements here.Continue Reading California Legislature Passes Landmark Climate Disclosure Laws: Spotlight on SB 261

The following interview originally appeared in the National Law Journal.

What you need to know

  • One of the significant issues many of their multinational clients have is the growing divide between how they operate and what’s expected of them in the U.S. versus Europe.
  • At the same time the legal field has experienced this anti-ESG backlash over the last year in the U.S., the EU has moved full speed ahead on many ESG initiatives with significant consequences for businesses, including the EU Taxonomy, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.
  • There is also growing litigation risk because with so much more scrutiny, and so much more information in the public domain, there are a range of stakeholders and potential plaintiffs on ESG issues, from state officials to NGOs

The Biden administration has set clear policy goals to establish effective corporate net-zero strategies on the one hand, yet there has also been growing pushback against the climate aspect of ESG in many red states. How do you advise clients on climate regulation in this very fluid environment?

Jayni Hein: We are all witnessing this summer, yet again, record-breaking land and ocean temperatures and pervasive wildfire smoke. It’s undeniable that climate change is affecting how we live today and how businesses operate. How both the government and the private sector respond is critically important.Continue Reading Q&A: Navigating Climate and ESG Amid Regulatory Uncertainty

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. Continue Reading Upcoming EU Rules on Green Claims

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (“GHG Protocol” or “Protocol”)—a leading standard setter for measuring and managing corporate greenhouse gas emissions, borne of a partnership between World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)—has opened stakeholder surveys concerning the revision of its Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, Guidance on Scope 2 Emissions, and the Scope 3 Standard and Scope 3 Calculation Guidance.Continue Reading Corporate Carbon Counting Under Scrutiny—Comments Requested on Pending Updates to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol

On December 14, 2022, during an open Commission meeting, the Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously to issue a Federal Register notice requesting comments on the efficacy of the Green Guides.  The initial request for comments seeks input on whether to retain, modify, or rescind the Guides.  The notice was published in late December, marking the beginning of a 60-day comment period that ends on February 21, 2023.Continue Reading FTC Launches Green Guides Review, 60-day Comment Period Closes February 2023

Negotiations over the text of the final Declaration appear to have not progressed significantly since yesterday. The issues holding up progress now are the same issues that had been identified at the outset as key: loss and damage; mitigation gaps (weak NDCs); the $100 billion in climate finance promised to developing countries from 2020; and the doubling of the proportion of the $100 billion going to adaptation projects. The dual Egyptian Foreign Minister and COP President called on delegates to find solutions—though normally the responsibility for moving text forward lies with the host country.   Continue Reading Highlights from Cop 27: Solutions Day

COP 27 was electrified yesterday by the speech of President-elect Lula of Brazil. Promising to reverse the deforestation of the Amazon and commenting that Brazil is already a global agricultural giant without the need to clear any more rainforest, he called on wealthy nations to make good on their COP 15 pledge to set aside $100 billion per year for adaptation and demanded additional funding for loss and damage, noting that the countries least responsible for climate change were those currently suffering from it the most. He also underlined the importance of international partnerships, including the recent agreement between Brazil, Indonesia, and the Congo to work together on conservation.Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Biodiversity Day

On November 15th, all eyes were on the G20 Summit where news that the meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi had been broadly positive–including instructions for officials to re-engage on climate change–along with the announcement of funding to help Indonesia move away from reliance on coal-fired energy, served as a welcome boost to the mood in Sharm.Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Energy Day