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

This post is the ninth in a series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

Virtually every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has pursued a national “infrastructure” project of some kind.  From the New Deal and the Federal-Aid Highway Acts, which created today’s interstate highway, to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the federal government has made significant investments toward a “system of public works,” a standard definition for the word “infrastructure.”  In this way, the AJP is just the latest major infrastructure initiative, even if the proposed amounts for modernizing surface transportation, airports, and waterways are unprecedented.
Continue Reading Infrastructure Reimagined: From Roads and Country to People and Planet

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

The latest Energy Transition technology now attracting massive investment and policy attention is “green hydrogen” produced using renewable energy to separate hydrogen from water that can be used both for bulk energy storage and then used to fuel gas-fired power plants or hard-to-abate sectors such as manufacturing, shipping and long-haul trucking.   President Biden’s American Jobs Plan matches that level of investment and attention by proposing 15 decarbonized hydrogen demonstration projects in distressed communities and by including hydrogen among an additional $15 billion increase in funding for climate R&D priorities.  The AJP also includes an expansion of production tax credits for energy storage, that has led to the introduction of at least one bill — SB 1017 – endorsed by the American Clean Power Association proposing a $3/kg tax credit for green hydrogen.
Continue Reading Hastening the Hydrogen Economy

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

One of the key underpinnings of the case for climate legislation is the idea that natural and working lands will suffer without swift and meaningful action. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) proposes to “protect and, where necessary, restore nature-based infrastructure – our lands, forests, wetlands, watersheds, and coastal and ocean resources.” But what should that look like? And how will the new administration find common ground with lawmakers who fear that forest conservation can only come at the expense of rural communities and the industries that rely on these resources?
Continue Reading Finding the Common Ground for Forests

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

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) would mobilize $2.2 trillion in investment to address climate change and create jobs for Americans. According to the White House, “unlike past major investments, the plan prioritizes addressing long-standing and persistent racial injustice,” in part by “target[ing] 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities.” These investments would give life to the President’s “Justice40 Initiative,” established by his January 27, 2021, Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (EO).
Continue Reading Ending Environmental Injustice with Infrastructure Investment

The election of President Joe Biden in the US and the fast-approaching COP26 have focused minds on the importance of taking concrete steps to tackle climate change. This week has been an important part of the build-up to Glasgow and has witnessed a number of important climate change events. The European Commission released its Draft Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act, under the Taxonomy Regulation.  The US hosted the Climate Change Leaders Summit.  The banking sector launched two new net zero initiatives.  And the US, EU and UK have updated their emissions reductions targets.
Continue Reading A Week of Climate Action

On April 21, 2021, the European Commission approved “in principle” a Delegated Regulation establishing the criteria under which different economic activities substantially contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation under Regulation 2020/852 on the Establishment of a Framework to Facilitate Sustainable Investment (“Taxonomy Regulation”).  Among other things, the Delegated Regulation defines the climate mitigation and adaptation criteria that the manufacture of hydrogen must meet to be considered a “sustainable investment” in the European Union.
Continue Reading The European Commission Approves the EU Criteria on Sustainable Hydrogen Activities