Climate concerns the world over are making countries commit to ambitious climate pledges. Today, about two-thirds of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from countries that have committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. These countries must now rework their environmental parameters and adopt legislation and policies to deliver those emissions reductions
Climate disclosures and stringent ESG compliances is what lies ahead for the big companies the world over. While the EU has been leading the way there have been interesting developments in INDIA, US, RUSSIA and New Zealand as well.
The Indian regulator SEBI has mandated quantitative and standardized disclosures on ESG parameters to enable comparability across companies, sectors and time for top 1000 listed Indian firms. This will be called the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR). The disclosures will include
- Material ESG (environmental, social and governance) risks and opportunities,
- Approach to mitigate or adapt to the risks along with financial implications
- Sustainability related goals and targets and performance
- These can be cross-referenced to disclosures based on GRI, SASB, TCFD or Integrated Reporting
US SEC is modernizing ESG and Climate disclosure standards. The following steps are being considered to enhance the reliability around existing climate and ESG disclosures
- Sustainability standards board
- ESG-specific policies and procedures requirements
- Investor bulletin to help investors understand ESG
- Enhanced transparency around proxy voting
- Auditor attestation of current voluntary sustainability reporting
- Better standards or guidance for how auditors currently address companies’ climate and ESG-related financial statement disclosures
- Enhanced transparency by credit rating agencies regarding how they consider ESG factors
New Zealand has become the first country to introduce a law that will require banks, insurers and investment managers to report the impacts of climate change on their business. This will cover the following:
- All banks with total assets of more than NZ$1 billion ($703 million)
- Insurers with more than NZ$1 billion in total assets under management
- All equity and debt issuers listed on the NZ stock exchange
- 200 of the country's biggest companies and several foreign firms that meet the NZ$1 billion threshold will come under the legislation
This legislation is in line with the government’s policy to create a NetZero country. NZ public sector will be carbon-neutral by 2025 and will also buy only zero-emissions public transport buses.
The Association of Banks of Russia has approved recommendations for the implementation of ESG principles by local lenders. At the moment, 7% of Russian banks already apply ESG principles in their business models, while 67% are preparing for the transition to ESG banking.
Russian Green Finance Guidelines have been issued. These focus on promoting private investment into projects aligned to national and international climate targets.
The Moscow Stock Exchange has created a Sustainability Sector for financing projects in the fields of environmental and social sustainability. The new sector will consist of three independent segments: green bonds, social bonds and national projects.
Germany the 4.9 trillion dollar economy will be NetZero by 2045. 5 years earlier than otherwise planned. This is a transition that will eliminate 65% emissions by 2030, 85-90% by 2040 and reach net zero emissions by 2045. This has 5 main implications
- Manufacturing – Germany is regarded as a global engineering powerhouse with industrial giants in automotive, mechanical engineering, chemicals, electric and electronic equipment. Decarbonizing these sectors will have ripple effects across the world too in terms of NetZero manufacturing, phasing out coal and investing heavily in renewables.
- Infrastructure – Since there will be a massive shift towards electric vehicles and low emission fuels, charging infrastructure will be intensified. Further renewable energy investments will mean a change in the electricity grid of the country as well as massive investments in technology infrastructure.
- Climate Finance – to fund the transition across manufacturing and construction, funding will be needed in massive quantities.
- Skills Transition – All the above will mean new skills and new jobs for a country in transition.
- Carbon Strategies – German companies will now need to define their own sustainability targets, assess sustainability risks that may impact their own activities and evaluate principal adverse impacts stemming from their own activities.