sustainable development

Proposed regulation will require companies to substantiate their environmental footprint claims, seeking to ensure green claims are more reliable.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

Background

On 27 August 2020, the European Commission (the Commission) launched a public consultation on a possible proposal on substantiating green claims about products or services. This follows on from the Commission’s Inception Impact Assessment Roadmap on potential regulation of green claims. The consultation period for this Roadmap closed on 31 August 2020, so the Commission is already moving ahead with the consultation on the proposal itself. This initiative is another step toward meeting the objectives identified in the European Green Deal, pursuant to which the Commission committed itself to making the EU climate neutral by 2050.

Member States will follow a single EU legislative framework merging industrial policies and environmental protection to encourage sustainable economic and social development.

By Paul A. Davies and Jörn Kassow

The European Parliament adopted the new Circular Economy Package, on 18 April 2018, setting ambitious, legally binding EU targets for waste recycling and reduction of landfilling. The package aims to further increase municipal waste recycling and lower the amount of landfilling. Currently, over a quarter of municipal waste is still landfilled and less than half is recycled or composted. This has a negative impact on the environment, climate, human health, as well as the economy.

Through the updated waste management legislation, the EU promotes a shift to a more sustainable model known as the circular economy. This is a model of production and consumption that extends the lifecycle of products, components, and materials, to reduce waste disposal to a minimum. This shall replace the former linear economic model, which is based on a “take-make-consume-throw away” pattern and therefore wastes a lot of resources and energy.

Spain takes a further step towards sustainable development with consultation on draft Circular Economy Strategy.

By Rosa Espín and Leticia Sitges

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment has launched a public consultation on a draft Circular Economy Strategy, which will involve the business sector, not-for-profit entities, and citizenship in the drafting process. The public consultation was open for comments until 12 March 2018.

One of the main problems of the linear traditional economy is the large production of waste that is not recycled nor valorized. According to the latest Eurostat data, Spain produced 111 million tons of waste in 2014, out of which only 24.32% was recycled (which is several points below the EU average of 36%). The draft Circular Economy Strategy aims to address this through the implementation of the so-called “circular economy,” in which the value of products, materials, and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible and waste generation is minimized. Achieving sustainable development is a key point of this strategy, in line with the objectives set out by the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 adopted by the United Nations.

Recommendations signal a major shift for Europe’s financial system through both legislative and non-legislative changes.

By Paul A. Davies and Aaron E. Franklin

The European Commission (EC) has revealed its action plan for mobilizing the financial system to encourage a “greener and cleaner economy.”[1] The plan, which was released on 8 March, states that it aims to facilitate the following, in conjunction with the Paris Agreement and the EU’s sustainable development agenda: i) improvements in the financial system’s contributions to sustainable and inclusive growth, and ii) stronger financial stability by incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision-making. The inescapable takeaway is that the EC strongly encourages a more active regulatory role in the sustainable investments market, through both legislative and non-legislative changes.

By Michael Green and Paul Davies

Following decision C(2017)7124 of the European Commission (EC), the EC has launched its Work Programme for 2018 (WP 2018). WP 2018 outlines plans for achieving the EC’s primary policy objectives during the next 12 months — with particular attention to environmental issues.

WP 2018 outlines four “Focus Areas” (FAs) that envisage major work across programme boundaries. The EC has allocated a significant budget in order to facilitate such work at a “sufficient scale, depth and breadth”. Two of the four FAs, which specifically relate to environmental considerations, are described below.

By Paul Davies, Bridget Rose Reineking and Andrew Westgate

At the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping asserted his country’s emerging leadership in environmental stewardship and pledged to build a “beautiful China”. In his speech to the 2,300 delegates and guests assembled for the Congress’s opening session, President Xi lauded China’s burgeoning role as a global marshal of environmental reform.

Xi’s speech follows major efforts to reduce energy consumption and conserve resources across China — such as green finance initiatives facilitating lending to firms in environmentally friendly sectors; programmes for the development of alternative energy sources; and efforts to strengthen and enforce environmental laws and regulations. President Xi pointed to these efforts and proclaimed that China’s pursuit of sustainable development is both paying off domestically, and setting an example globally.