The new rules would oblige companies to integrate their human rights and environmental impact into their management systems.

By Paul A. Davies, Michael D. Green, and James Bee

On December 14, 2023, the European Council (Council) and European Parliament (Parliament) reached provisional agreement on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). The agreement follows an extensive negotiation processes, which began in June 2023, after the European Commission had initially proposed the CSDDD in February 2022.

The CSDDD’s key aim is to enhance the protection of the environment and human rights globally. The CSDDD as proposed will set obligations for companies regarding the actual and potential adverse impacts of their own operations, those of their subsidiaries, and those carried out by business partners, described as the “business chain of activities.” The CSDDD would also establish a requirement for large EU companies to adopt a plan to ensure that their business model and strategy are compatible with the Paris Agreement, i.e., including concrete targets and measures in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.

The proposed CSDDD would establish rules on penalties and civil liability for infringements (although these will ultimately be set by Member States).

The regulation aims to minimise the EU’s contribution to deforestation and forest degradation.

By Paul A. Davies, Michael D. Green, and James Bee

The European Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) entered into force on 29 June 2023, following publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. However, the main requirements and prohibitions of the EUDR will apply from 30 December 2024, 18 months after the entry into force.

The regulation forms part of the European Green Deal (for more information on the Green Deal, refer to Latham’s blog post here), which includes a proposal to ensure EU consumption does not contribute to deforestation and forest degradation. The EUDR will repeal and broaden the scope of the existing EU Timber Regulation.[i]

The Commission is also consulting on proposed targeted amendments to the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act and on the Taxonomy Disclosures Delegated Act.

By Paul A. DaviesMichael D. Green, and James Bee

On 5 April 2023 the European Commission opened a consultation on its proposal for four additional environmental objectives under the EU Taxonomy Regulation[1] (the Taxonomy), including: (i) sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources; (ii) transition to a circular economy; (iii) pollution prevention and control; and (iv) protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems.

The Commission is seeking feedback on technical screening criteria (TSC) for economic activities that may substantially contribute to one or more of those four environmental objectives. The TSC do not only identify the technical requirements that an activity must meet to be considered to make a substantial contribution to one of these areas, they also specify the conditions by which the activities can be considered to not do any significant harm to the remaining areas.

The Commission has already adopted TSC related to the economic activities of two other environmental objectives: climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation.

The Commission is also proposing amendments to the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act, introducing additional activities that may be considered to substantially contribute to climate change mitigation or climate change adaptation, as well as the Taxonomy Disclosures Delegated Act.

The proposals form part of the Green Deal Industrial Plan and aim to scale up technology and materials for the energy transition.

By Paul A. Davies, Beatrice Lo, JP Sweny, Alexander Buckeridge-Hocking, Michael D. Green, and James Bee

On 16 March 2023, the European Commission (Commission) formally proposed two legislative initiatives and announced the development of a European Hydrogen Bank as part of its program to enhance the EU’s competitiveness in green technologies and support its transition towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The consultation seeks feedback on its “measures-based approach” to classifying industrial activities, as well as “Do No Significant Harm” criteria.

By Paul A. Davies, Farhana Sharmeen, Michael D. Green, and James Bee

The Green Finance Industry Taskforce (GFIT) was convened by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and includes representatives from financial institutions, corporates, and financial industry associations, among other stakeholders. The industry-led group aims to accelerate the development of green finance in Singapore through four initiatives:

  1. Developing a taxonomy
  2. Enhancing environmental risk management practices of financial institutions
  3. Improving disclosures
  4. Fostering green finance solutions

The Plan aims to “simplify, accelerate and align incentives to preserve the competitiveness and attractiveness of the EU as an investment location for the net-zero industry”[1].

By Paul A. DaviesMichael D. Green, and James Bee

On 1 February 2023, the European Commission (Commission) presented a proposal for a Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age (the Plan). The Plan forms part of the European Green Deal adopted in 2019, which sets out the EU’s green transition ambitions and climate targets towards reaching net zero by 2050. The Plan sits alongside other Green Deal initiatives, including the “Fit for 55” package of policies (which seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030), as well as REPowerEU (introduced to reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels and provide clean and affordable energy).

The Plan is designed to support the scaling up of the EU’s net zero manufacturing capacities and installation of sustainable products and energy supplies, whilst also enhancing the competitiveness of Europe’s net zero industry. This Plan is particularly relevant in light of the US Inflation Reduction Act in the US, which aims to mobilise over $360 billion by 2032[2], and recent concerns in relation to energy security and energy prices in the EU.

By Paul A. Davies, Michael D. Green, and James Bee

The CBAM would seek to mitigate carbon leakage through the imposition of a levy on carbon-intensive imports into the EU, while free allowances under EU ETS would be phased out.

On 13 December 2022, negotiators from the European Parliament and European Council reached a provisional and conditional agreement on the terms of the EU’s carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM).

The CBAM was initially proposed by the European Commission in July 2021 as part of its “Fit for 55” package of policies. The measure seeks to address and mitigate the risk of “carbon leakage” from the EU, which refers to the risk that the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction efforts will be offset by increasing emissions outside of its border through the relocation of production to non-EU countries with less ambitious emissions reduction policies.

The CBAM would impose a levy on in-scope goods that are imported into the EU. Importers of such goods would be required to pay an amount equal to the cost of the emissions allowances under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) that would have been necessary to pay to produce that good in the EU.