ESG Essentials: Labour slashes green investment plans and EU CSRD delays

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Paris Agreement faces the heat

For the first time, the average global temperature has surpassed the critical benchmark of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for 12 months, according to data from Copernicus, the European earth observation agency.

The 1.5C level is a crucial threshold in the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which countries agreed to limit global temperature rises to well below 2C and ideally to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.  

Although the record-breaking temperatures of the past 12 months were above 1.5C, scientists emphasised that the breach did not mean a failure to uphold the Paris Accord, which is based on a longer-term temperature increase of more than a decade.  

Yet another stark global milestone reminds us of the urgency needed to tackle climate change if we are to stand a chance of keeping the 1.5C target alive. 

U-Turn on green: Labour slashes green investment plan

The Labour party has slashed its pledge to spend £28 billion a year on green policies by nearly 75%, to £4.7bn a year. This announcement comes after months of uncertainty over the party’s commitment to the plan.

Labour leader Keir Starmer explained this move, stating that he wanted to ‘focus on the outcomes’ of the green plans, not the ‘size of the check’. The party also hope that the change in plans leaves Labour less vulnerable to Conservative probing about its economic policy. 

He said Labour was retaining the policy’s main elements: a state-owned £8.3bn energy company called GB Energy; a £7.3bn “national wealth fund” to decarbonise heavy industry; and a home insulation scheme.  

This development suggests a significant shift in the UK’s political landscape and its approach to green investments. Investors should be aware of signals about the UK’s commitment to green growth and its readiness for sustainable investments, as these factors can influence investment decisions in such an evolving landscape of climate policies.

EU delays CSRD sustainability reporting standards following industry pushback 

Following industry pushback, the European Union has agreed to delay additional ESG disclosure requirements by two years. The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) set a deadline of 30th June 2024 for companies to report on thousands of data points, giving investors greater insight into their conduct on ESG issues.

EU lawmakers and member states agreed to push the timeline to June 2026 for sector-specific reporting requirements still in development. However, this decision does not impact a new requirement for companies to report general ESG data points from June this year.

The provisional agreement comes after tensions between the EU’s ambitious ESG agenda and pressure from business leaders, who warn they are buckling under the weight of regulations.

The delay represents a bump in the road for the EU’s agenda that aims to address threats to the environment; by requiring companies to report on their climate and biodiversity impact, as well as how they treat their workforce and communities.

New Global Reporting Initiative standard addresses mining sector sustainability impacts

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has launched a new sustainability reporting standard for the mining sector; pushing companies to disclose various sustainability impacts, including emissions, biodiversity, community impact, and human rights.

The role of the mining sector is complex, as it is part of both the problem and the solution in the low-carbon transition. Mining specific minerals is crucial for the transition, but mining operations can have deep and damaging impacts on both nature and people.

The new standard, GRI 14; Mining Sector 2024, applies to all organisations across the mining and quarrying sector, setting expectations for site-level transparency by helping stakeholders assess risks and impacts by location and specific minerals.

An independent group of stakeholders across businesses, investors, labour groups and civil society developed the standard. It incorporates expectations from responsible mining guidance and helps mining organisations improve communication with key stakeholders whilst building trust with local communities. 

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