ESG 國際新聞週報 7/31-8/6

August 09,2023
Resources: ESG Today
1. EU Commission Adopts Final Sustainability Reporting Rules

The European Commission has announced the adoption of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS), a significant move towards implementing the upcoming Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive (CSRD). These standards lay out the requirements for companies to report on sustainability-related impacts, opportunities, and risks. The CSRD, slated to take effect in 2024, expands the scope of companies required to provide sustainability disclosures, aiming to encompass over 50,000 companies compared to the current 12,000. The new rules emphasize detailed reporting on environmental impact, human rights, social standards, and sustainability-related risk. However, concerns have arisen about the EU Commission's decision to make some sustainability disclosures non-mandatory, as this could impact investors' access to vital information for their investment decisions. The ESRS will be subject to scrutiny by the EU Parliament and Council before implementation, and its adoption aims to strike a balance between reducing reporting burdens on companies and promoting their alignment with sustainable finance goals.


2. Kraft Heinz to Eliminate 100 Million Pounds of Plastic from Packaging

Kraft Heinz, a global food and beverage company, has announced a commitment to reduce virgin plastic usage by 20% in its global packaging portfolio, aligning with its efforts to decrease fossil fuel dependency and adopt more sustainable packaging options. This move is projected to cut around 100 million pounds of virgin plastic. Building on its existing sustainability commitments from 2020, Kraft Heinz aims to achieve packaging that is fully recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025, while also targeting a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. The company's initiatives encompass reduced plastic use, higher recycled content, and exploration of plastic alternatives, exemplified by recent launches like an eco-friendly paperboard sleeve and collaborations for wood pulp-based packaging.


3. Biden Administration Announces New Sustainable Procurement Rules for Federal Government

The Biden administration has introduced a new procurement rule emphasizing Sustainable Products and Services. This requires federal government buyers to prioritize sustainability and expands the range of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ecolabel standards for federal purchases. This aligns with President Biden's Federal Sustainability Plan to achieve net zero emissions for the U.S. federal government by 2050, including emissions from federal procurement. The rule aims to cut emissions in the supply chain, in line with Biden's Buy American directive for green products and domestic manufacturing. It updates acquisition regulations to emphasize sustainability and encourages agencies to prioritize sustainable products. The EPA's Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing will guide agencies toward private sector standards that meet sustainability goals. The proposal also seeks to avoid purchasing products with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), known as "forever chemicals," due to their persistent and potentially harmful nature. EPA Administrator Michael Regan highlights the rule's contribution to responsible, sustainable trade and pollution reduction in the Biden-Harris Administration's efforts.


4. UK to Create IFRS-Based Sustainability Disclosure Standards

The UK government has revealed its intention to establish UK Sustainability Disclosure Standards (SDS) for companies to report on sustainability and climate-related risks. These standards, announced by the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), will serve as the foundation for potential future sustainability reporting legislation or regulation. The DBT plans to base the UK SDS on the International Sustainability Standards issued by the IFRS Foundation’s International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). These standards were developed to create a globally consistent understanding of the impact of sustainability risks and opportunities on companies' prospects, in response to demand from investors, companies, governments, and regulators. The DBT aims to ensure that the UK SDS aligns with IFRS standards to provide globally comparable and useful information for investors. The plan comes in line with the UK's commitment to assess new IFRS sustainability and climate-related reporting standards. Decisions on mandatory disclosures will be made by the UK government and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), with potential implementation of UK SDS by July 2024.


5. IAASB Launches Sustainability Reporting Assurance Standard

The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) has introduced the International Standard on Sustainability Assurance (ISSA) 5000, a new proposed standard focused on providing assurance for sustainability reporting. This comes amid global efforts by companies to report on sustainability and climate-related aspects. The ISSA 5000 aligns with emerging sustainability disclosure standards and regulatory requirements such as the EU's CSRD rules and the IFRS climate reporting standards by the ISSB. The IAASB aims to gather stakeholder input through roundtables and events during the consultation period, with comments invited until December 1, 2023. The new standard is designed as a global baseline adaptable to various sustainability reporting frameworks.

國際審計和保證標準委員會(IAASB)引入了國際可持續性保證標準(ISSA)5000,這是一項新提議的標準,專注於為可持續性報告提供保證。此舉是在全球企業努力報告可持續性和與氣候相關的方面之際進行的。ISSA 5000與新興的可持續性披露標準和法規要求相吻合,例如歐盟的CSRD規則以及國際可持續性標準委員會(ISSB)制定的IFRS氣候報告標準。IAASB旨在通過圓桌會議和活動在諮詢期內收集利益相關者的意見,意見將於2023年12月1日之前接受。這項新標準被設計為一個適應各種可持續性報告框架的全球基準。

6. Sustainable Bond Volumes Outperforming Market in all Regions Except North America: Moody's

Moody's Investors Service's new report reveals that issuance volumes of green, social, sustainability, and sustainability-linked (GSSS) bonds experienced a strong rebound in the first half of 2023, increasing by 7% year-over-year to reach $526 billion. This growth occurred even as overall bond market issuance volumes fell by 7% during the same period. Green bonds reached record levels, with European issuers dominating GSSS bond issuance and a significant regional divergence. While most regions showed growth, North America experienced declines, with GSSS bond volumes reaching their lowest in the region since Q2 2020. Green bonds remained dominant, accounting for over 60% of volumes in the second quarter. Social bonds rebounded by 24%, and sustainability bond issuances grew by 2%. Sustainability-linked bonds had a volatile performance. Despite strong performance in the first half of 2023, the GSSS bond market has the potential to surpass Moody's full-year issuance forecast of $950 billion. Challenges to growth include a drop in first-time issuers, heightened greenwashing scrutiny, complex ESG regulations, and broader issuance conditions.