Regulation is shaping the sustainability agenda and changing the way companies do business in different jurisdictions but keeping pace with constant regulatory updates has become a mammoth task for businesses and investors. In this recurring series, S&P Global Sustainable1 presents key environmental, social and governance regulatory developments and disclosure standards from around the world.
In this month's update, we explore the EU’s new green industrial plan, a U.S. proposal to reform its offshore wind sector, a proposal in Australia to reduce emissions for high-emissions industries and more.
Europe United States and Canada Asia-Pacific
European Commission President announces new green industrial plan
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Jan. 17 a new plan designed to boost investment in clean-tech industries and make the EU more competitive on the world stage as the energy transition advances. The proposed Green Deal Industrial Plan includes a Net-Zero Industry Act to help speed up permitting for wind, solar, heat pumps, hydrogen and other green industries, as well as tax breaks and subsidies for European production facilities operating across the clean-tech value chain. It would also relax state-aid rules to provide faster access to funding.
European Central Bank introduces new sustainable finance statistical indicators
The European Central Bank on Jan. 24 published its first set of climate-related statistical indicators designed to better measure how climate risks will affect the financial sector and to monitor the development of sustainable finance. The indicators will help compile key data on the financial sector’s exposure to climate risks, the ECB said. They will provide an overview of debt instruments such as green, social, sustainability or sustainability-linked bonds and track progress on the transition to a net-zero economy, the ECB said. They will also inform on the carbon intensity of the securities and loan portfolios of financial institutions and on the financial sector’s exposure to counterparties with carbon-intensive business models. They will also look at climate-related physical risks and analyze the impact of natural hazards such as floods, wildfires or storms on the performance of loans, bonds and equities portfolios.
European Commission launches consultation on electricity market reform
The European Commission on Jan. 23 said it had launched a consultation on reforming the design of the EU’s electricity market, aimed at increasing the uptake of renewable energy sources by consumers. The consultation focuses on four issues: how to make electricity bills less dependent on short-term variations in fossil fuel prices and how to boost the rollout of renewables; improving the way the market works to ensure the security of supply and the use of alternatives to gas; enhancing consumer protection; and improving market transparency. The consultation was set to end on Feb. 13. The Commission is planning to deliver a legislative proposal in the first quarter of 2023.
European securities market regulator asks for clarifications in sustainability reporting standards
The European Securities and Markets Authority, or ESMA, on Jan. 26 said it had issued an opinion to the European Commission about the first set of draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards, or ESRS, which specify the sustainability information that companies are required to report under the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. ESMA advised the Commission to improve the consistency between the ESRS and other EU legislation, as well as clarify terminology and guidance related to materiality assessments. ESMA said the first set of standards would increase the quality of sustainability information and make companies more accountable for their sustainability commitments. The standards, according to which companies will have to report on sustainability criteria under the CSRD, include topics such as workforce issues, impacts on communities, climate change, pollution, biodiversity and the circular economy. The new rules also anchor the concept of “double materiality,” where firms need to think of reporting not just in financial terms but also in terms of how their business affects the environment, its workers and its end-customers.
United States and Canada
US to measure nature’s contribution to national economy
The U.S. published on Jan. 19 a national strategy designed to measure how nature contributes to the country’s economy and to account for natural capital in economic statistics for the first time. The strategy will seek to improve data collection and guide policy and business decisions moving forward, the U.S. Department of Commerce said. The strategy proposes a new headline metric for natural capital, Change in Natural Asset Wealth, that could be paired with GDP to “help society tell if today’s consumption is being accomplished without compromising the future opportunities that nature provides.”
US Interior Department proposes offshore wind reform plan
The U.S. Department of the Interior announced on Jan. 12 a proposal by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, to update regulations for offshore wind farms that could save developers about $1 billion over 20 years. The proposals include eliminating what BOEM called unnecessary requirements for the deployment of meteorological buoys; increasing survey flexibility; improving the project design and installation verification process; establishing a public renewable energy leasing schedule and reforming the BOEM's renewable energy auction regulations, among others. The proposals were to be open for public comment for 60 days.
US unveils strategy to cut transport sector’s carbon emissions
The U.S. on Jan. 10 released its National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization, developed by the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which sets out a strategy for cutting all greenhouse emissions from the transportation sector by 2050. Transportation accounts for a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. According to the strategy, the federal government will work with regional, state and local governments to use policy and regulation such as long-term planning, standards and coordinated procurement to cut emissions in transportation. Government and the private sector will also make strategic investments to deploy infrastructure and support manufacturing. The strategy also aims to improve community design and land-use by placing workplaces, schools, essential services and other destinations closer to where people live. It also targets direct emissions cuts by improving the efficiency of transportation, either by expanding public transit or by improving vehicle efficiency.
Australia announces plan to reduce emissions for high-emitting industries
The Australian government on Jan. 10 announced a reform of its existing emission reduction plan for high-emitting industries, as it seeks to reduce carbon emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050. Australia’s Safeguard Mechanism, implemented since 2016, requires around 215 facilities that produce over 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually to keep their net emissions below a baseline. It covers around 28% of the country’s total emissions. Under the reform, the sectors subject to the mechanism would have to reduce emissions by 4.9% annually by 2030. Emissions covered by the mechanism would fall to no more than 100 million tonnes by 2030 from a projected 143 million tonnes in 2022-2023. The reformed Safeguard Mechanism is expected to deliver an estimated 205 million tonnes in emission reductions by the end of the decade. The government also said it would award A$600 million in funding to industries impacted by the mechanism. The government plans to finalize the new rules by April, and the reform will be implemented from July 1, 2023.
India adopts plan to increase green hydrogen production and exports by 2030
India’s government approved on Jan. 4 a plan to increase its green hydrogen production by 2030 as it seeks to become energy independent and decarbonize its industrial, transport and energy sectors. The plan aims to develop India’s green hydrogen output and produce 5 million tonnes per year by 2030, replacing the 5 million tonnes of grey hydrogen, which is made from fossil fuels, consumed annually in the country. That would add 125 gigawatts to the country’s renewable energy capacity and reduce annual carbon emissions by 50 million tonnes, the government said. It will mobilize more than $2 billion in total investments and create 600,000 jobs. State-owned Shipping Corporation of India will be required to retrofit at least two ships to run on green hydrogen or other green hydrogen-derived fuels by 2027, under pilot projects published in a National Green Hydrogen Mission on Jan. 13. Other projects include the installation of green ammonia bunkers and refueling facilities in all major ports by 2035. India also wants to tap 10% of the global export market for green hydrogen to meet expected global demand of more than 100 million tonnes of green hydrogen and its derivatives like green ammonia by 2030.
Philippines securities market regulator publishes disclosure rules for sustainable investment funds
The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission published on Jan. 3 rules for sustainable and responsible investment funds to improve disclosure and reporting of sustainability-related investment products. Under the rules, a fund must adopt one or more sustainability considerations as its main investment focus and include that in its investment strategy published in its registration statement. Funds will also be required to allocate at least two-thirds of their net asset value to their sustainable investment objective, the regulator said. The fund’s name must accurately reflect its investment objectives, and a fund can only use the terms ESG, or sustainability, or similar if permitted to do so by the Commission.
This piece was published by S&P Global Sustainable1 and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.
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This list is not exhaustive, and information is current as of the publication date. If there are additional significant regulatory developments we should cover going forward, please reach out to Jennifer Laidlaw at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome feedback.