The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (HKEX) had been consulting on proposals to enhance climate-related disclosures under its environmental, social and governance framework, with a previously proposed implementation date of 1 January 2024. The HKEX announced on 3 November 2023 that the implementation date of the Listing Rules amendments will be postponed to 1 January 2025.Read More
On 16 October 2023, the Division of Examinations (the Division) of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released its examination priorities for the 2024 fiscal year. In an interesting twist, the SEC released the examination priorities early, changing the timing to correspond to the beginning of its new fiscal year.Read More
By: Jim Bulling and Ben Kneebush
As previously discussed in our post, the Australian Treasury has proposed to introduce mandatory climate-related financial disclosure standards in Australia. This will have a profound impact on the financial services industry, as financial services entities (including superannuation funds) will be captured by this disclosure framework. Under a phased implementation, reporting commences on 1 July 2024 for certain large entities.Read More
By Jim Bulling and Ben Kneebush
‘Greenwashing’ has been a priority for both the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for some time now.
ASIC’s approach to ‘greenwashing’ first emerged over a year ago with the publication of Information Sheet 271 (considered previously in our post), and was expanded with the release of Report 763 (considered previously in our post).
On 14 July 2023, the ACCC released its long-awaited draft guidance titled Environmental and Sustainability Claims – Draft Guidance for Business. The aim of this was to aid businesses in avoiding ‘greenwashing’ when making environmental or sustainability claims.Read More
On 27 June 2023, the Australian Treasury released a further consultation paper (consultation period open until 21 July 2023) on the introduction of a mandatory climate disclosure framework in Australia.
Under a phased-in approach, by 2027-28, all entities required to lodge financial reports will be subject to the disclosure framework. Larger entities fulfilling two of three criteria (consolidated revenue of AUD$500 million or more, consolidated gross assets of AUD$1 billion or more and 500 or more employees) will be required to lodge reports first, from 2024-25 with smaller entities which satisfy two of three criteria (consolidated revenue of AUD$50 million or more, consolidated gross assets of AUD$25 million or more, and 100 or more employees) having an extra two years to comply.Read More
By Jim Bulling and Grace Hall
The Chair of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Joe Longo, commented on three key ESG focus areas of the regulator in recent speeches.
In addition to governance, greenwashing and growth in sustainable financing, the Chair discussed the phenomenon of “greenhushing”, where companies decline to make any voluntary climate-related disclosures.Read More
The Australia Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has published a report on its regulatory interventions made between 1 July 2022 and 31 March 2023 in relation to greenwashing concerns (which can be accessed here). The report covers ASIC’s issuance of greenwashing infringement notices during the period and its observed increase in representations made by listed companies, managed funds and superannuation funds on environmental, social and governance credentials.Read More
On 12 April 2023, the German Ministry of Justice (Bundesministerium der Justiz) published a legislative proposal which would broaden the eligible assets for German open-ended real estate funds to include certain renewable energy assets. The proposal mentions both facilities for the generation, transport and storage of electricity, gas or heat from renewable energy sources, and charging stations for electric vehicles and bikes. The proposed rules would, for the first time, allow investment in facilities which are on open land and not directly connected with a building held by the fund. The new rules may also have an impact on non-German real estate funds available to certain German investors. For example, German pension schemes may require that non-German real estate funds share certain features with similar German funds.
By Philip Morgan and Zainab Kuku
Responding to encouragement from both the FCA and IOSCO, HM Treasury has proposed regulating ESG ratings providers in a consultation paper dated 30 March 2023. It primarily aims to improve the transparency of the methodologies and governance objectives adopted by ESG ratings providers, as well as to mitigate risks arising from conflicts of interest where the rating provider also provides other services to the rated entity.Read More
By Zainab Kuku
The FCA did not hold back in its most recent comments to ESG benchmark administrators, in an indication of its increasingly adversarial approach to ‘greenwashing’. It described the quality of disclosures of ESG factors considered in benchmark methodologies as ‘poor’, and aimed clear warning shots at administrators who fail to comply with the FCA’s feedback.Read More