Environment, Land & Resources

China’s New Five Year Plan Prioritizes Climate Targets and Domestic Growth

Posted in China

The Chinese Communist Party’s policy plans include an increased focus on climate change and a more open trade environment.

By Paul Davies, Ethan Prall and Andrew Westgate

The Central Committee, the top-level authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), recently concluded its Fifth Plenary Session and created China’s 14th Five Year Plan (the Plan). The Five Year Plan is the primary policy document for the CCP, covering a variety of social, economic, and foreign policy topics, and effectively serving as the CCP’s political platform. The Fifth Plenary was attended by 198 members of the Central Committee, including President Xi Jinping in his role as General Secretary of the Central Committee (his most important title). The full text of the new Plan is not yet public, but a communique summarizing the discussions at the Plenary has been released (Chinese version only). The communique indicates that the CCP will continue its focus on developing environmental governance policies through 2025, and the party will also prioritize aggressive climate policies aimed at reaching the 2060 carbon neutrality target recently announced by President Xi. Continue Reading

SASB and IIRC Announce Their Intention to Merge

Posted in Environmental Litigation, Environmental Regulation

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and the International Integrated Reporting Council merger aims to streamline ESG reporting to improve data for investors.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

On 25 November 2020, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) announced that they are merging into a unified organisation, the Value Reporting Foundation. This move reflects an effort to provide investors and corporates “with a comprehensive corporate reporting framework across the full range of enterprise value drivers and standards” and recognises “the need for data-driven information”. Continue Reading

Changing of the Guard at the SEC Heralds New Day for ESG Disclosure Rules

Posted in Environmental Regulation

As Chairman Clayton reaches the end of his tenure, Commissioners Lee and Crenshaw continue to push for SEC action on climate change.

By Paul A. Davies, Paul M. Dudek, Ryan J. Maierson, and Kristina S. Wyatt


In recent years, the market has witnessed a sharp divide both within the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) itself and between the investor community and the SEC over the regulation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures, as discussed in this blog post. The Commission, under the direction of Chairman Jay Clayton, has declined to entertain the regulation of ESG disclosures outside of human capital issues, even upon the adoption of amendments in August 2020 to the provisions of Regulation S-K governing the companies’ business description, risk factors, and legal proceedings. Last week, the Commission adopted amendments to the provisions of Regulation S-K governing Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A) and, in line with its previous actions, declined to include any provisions related to ESG disclosures. Continue Reading

UK Prime Minister Announces 10-Point Plan to Boost Green Economy

Posted in European Environmental and Public Law, Green Finance

The plan promises 250,000 jobs and emphasises a “green industrial revolution” to stimulate a post-pandemic economic recovery.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

On 17 November 2020, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a ten-point plan as part of the government’s initiative to “build back better”. The plan aims to bolster the economy and “turn the UK into the world’s number one centre for green technology and finance, creating the foundations for decades of economic growth”. The ten-point plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment — and potentially three times as much from the private sector — while aiming to create 250,000 jobs in the UK.

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Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Publishes 2020 Status Report

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, European Environmental and Public Law

The annual report shows a considerable uptake in the adoption of climate-centred financial disclosures.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) published its Annual Report on TCFD-aligned disclosures by firms (Annual Report), on 29 October 2020. The TCFD was established by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in 2015 as a mechanism to develop an approach for companies to disclose climate change matters. The TCFD offers companies guidelines and disclosure recommendations for providing information to investors, so that companies can provide more consistent, comparable data. The TCFD also promotes climate-related scenario analysis and the integration of climate-related risks into risk-management processes.

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Financial Reporting Council’s Climate Thematic Report Encourages Better Practices in Climate-Change Reporting

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, European Environmental and Public Law

The FRC prompts boards, companies, and auditors to improve responses to climate change challenges through improved governance structure and narrative reporting.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

On 10 November 2020, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) published its findings (the Report) on its thematic review undertaken in 2020, concerning climate-related considerations that various stakeholders take into account. The Report focuses on boards, companies, auditors, professional bodies, and investors, as these actors help drive appropriate reporting to the market and thus ‘play important roles in delivering society’s climate ambitions’.

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