There are so many ESG-related publications and developments that it is hard to keep abreast of them all. For this reason, every two weeks, our firm has been publishing a tracker of ESG-related publications and developments, with a primary focus on developments that may be of most interest to or impact our clients, be they corporates, asset managers or asset owners.

Key updates covered in this edition include:

  • The European Council has agreed its position on the proposals for the ‘EU Green Bond Standard’;
  • The Director General of the Treasury and Financial Policy of the Government of Spain has explained the main objectives of the National Sustainable Finance Plan and ways through which it will be implemented; and
  • The latest edition of the Sustainability Atlas published by Morningstar continues to rank Spain among the leaders in sustainability.

If you have any ESG-related questions, please get in touch with your usual contact at HSF who will be able to direct you as appropriate.

13 April 2022

The European Council has agreed its position on the proposals for the ‘EU Green Bond Standard’. The proposed regulation was first published by the European Commission (EC) in July 2021 as part of a wider Strategy for Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy. The regulation lays down uniform requirements for issuers of bonds that wish to use the designation ‘European Green Bond’ or ‘EuGB’ for their environmentally sustainable bonds made available to investors in the EU, and establishes a registration system and supervisory framework for external reviewers of European green bonds. Negotiations will now commence with the European Parliament to agree on a final version of the text.

13 April 2022

The European Economic and Social Committee has issued a press release supporting new proposals that aim to improve passenger and freight connectivity across the entire Union, through an increasingly multimodal and resilient transport network.

The EU needs an updated trans-European transport network regulation to thoroughly contribute to sustainability and smart mobility, including rail. This is the main message from the opinion on the Revision of the TEN-T and Rail Freight Corridor Regulation drafted by Stefan Back and adopted at the March plenary session.

13 April 2022

The three European Supervisory Authorities (the European Banking Authority, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (together, the ESAs) have issued their first joint risk assessment report for 2022. The report highlights the increasing vulnerabilities across the financial sector as well as the rise of environmental and cyber risks.

13 April 2022

The European Parliament Research Service (EPRS) has published an Implementation Appraisal briefing which looks at the revision of the Ecodesign Directive. The recently proposed regulation on ecodesign for sustainable products will extend the scope to a wider range of products, strengthen sustainability and circularity criteria, and introduce new information requirements for products.

13 April 2022

The European Parliament has published a briefing entitled ‘Minimising the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the EU market and exported from the EU’. The briefing provides an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the EC’s impact assessment accompanying the proposal for an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation.

14 April 2022

EIOPA has published a Consultation Paper on draft guidelines on the integration of the customer’s sustainability preferences in the suitability assessment under the Insurance Distribution Directive. The draft covers a number of areas, including how to help customers better understand the concept of sustainability preferences and their investment choices; how to match customer preferences with products (based on the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) product disclosures); and when to assess sustainability preferences.

19 April 2022

The ESAs have published the Joint Committee Annual Report 2021, which provides a detailed account of the joint work completed over the past year. A significant part of the work in 2021 focused on developing the regulatory and supervisory framework for sustainability-related disclosures. The other main areas of cross-sectoral focus included: joint risk assessment; enhancement of consumer protection; and development of the regulatory and supervisory frameworks for sustainable finance and securitisation. In addition, monitoring and contributing to the digital finance developments, supporting FinTech scale up through innovation hubs and sandboxes as well as cyber security completed the work programme.

20 April 2022

The United Nations Global Compact Spain organised a conference to address the progress of the developing National Sustainable Finance Plan (the Plan). At the conference, the General Director of the Treasury and Financial Policy of the Government of Spain, Pablo de Ramón-Laca, stated that the three strategic objectives of the Plan are:

  • To ensure the transformation of the public and private financial sector towards a new model aligned with climate neutrality.
  • To improve the competitiveness of the Spanish financial sector by leveraging the opportunities of sustainable finance in creating value.

To redirect the flow of capital towards a low-carbon economy, in line with the Paris Agreement.He also set out the six areas of action through which it will be implemented:

  • Promoting sustainable finance at international and European level, creating new initiatives on the subject.
  • Promoting Spain as a benchmark in the issuance of sustainable financial instruments.
  • Creating capacities, knowledge and awareness in the field of sustainable finance.
  • Promoting an adequate coordination among public administrations.
  • Strengthening the management of risks derived from climate change and energy transition.
  • Working to support Small and Medium Enterprises in their work relating to sustainable finance.

21 April 2022

The EC released new findings in relation to the efficiency and cost savings achieved by the RECOTRANS project, launched to support the transition of the transportation sector into a cleaner economy by using more efficient vehicles and developing more efficient manufacturing processes.

The project developed a state-of-the-art process for manufacturing lightweight materials for the transportation sector. Based on initial assessments, on the manufacturing side, the RECOTRANS system has shown it can reduce production time from 10-50%, and costs by up to 35%. Furthermore, it is estimated that the use of these technologies can cut energy consumption by 10%.

Further, RECOTRANS estimates a reduction in weight for trucks, automobiles and rail of 64%, 63% and 57% respectively, which could translate to economic savings for buyers and users and reduction of CO2 emissions.

21 April 2022

The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training published an analysis carried out by the Estonian jobs and skills forecasting system (OSKA), which mapped the skills required for the digital and green transition.

The analysis highlights the fact that the digital and the green transitions are inevitably linked, as the development of, and investment in, digital technologies creates the preconditions for the green transition. It also points out that sector-specific green skills are increasingly becoming a mandatory part of professional skills, but the level of green competences is inconsistent across different economic sectors. This calls for central leadership to increase knowledge and skill levels. In addition to occupation-specific green skills, knowledge in the fields of management, communication, marketing, ICT and strategic and innovative thinking are of key importance for the achievement of the green transition.

21 April 2022

COP26 President, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, has issued a press release ahead of the International Monetary Fund’s Spring Meetings in Washington DC, where he will urge leaders to ‘get finance flowing for greater climate action to keep 1.5C in sight’.

21 April 2022

The EC released new findings in relation to the efficiency and cost savings achieved by the RECOTRANS project, launched to support the transition of the transportation sector into a cleaner economy by using more efficient vehicles and developing more efficient manufacturing processes.

The project developed a state-of-the-art process for manufacturing lightweight materials for the transportation sector. Based on initial assessments, on the manufacturing side, the RECOTRANS system has shown it can reduce production time from 10-50%, and costs by up to 35%. Furthermore, it is estimated that the use of these technologies can cut energy consumption by 10%.

Further, RECOTRANS estimates a reduction in weight for trucks, automobiles and rail of 64%, 63% and 57% respectively, which could translate to economic savings for buyers and users and reduction of CO2 emissions.

21 April 2022

The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training published an analysis carried out by the Estonian jobs and skills forecasting system (OSKA), which mapped the skills required for the digital and green transition.

The analysis highlights the fact that the digital and the green transitions are inevitably linked, as the development of, and investment in, digital technologies creates the preconditions for the green transition. It also points out that sector-specific green skills are increasingly becoming a mandatory part of professional skills, but the level of green competences is inconsistent across different economic sectors. This calls for central leadership to increase knowledge and skill levels. In addition to occupation-specific green skills, knowledge in the fields of management, communication, marketing, ICT and strategic and innovative thinking are of key importance for the achievement of the green transition.

20 April 2022

The International Airports Council published an ESG best practice guide to help airports define and strengthen their ESG reporting framework to adapt to the new needs of the financial market.

This makes it easier for airports to meet their investment needs, in particular with regards to satisfying investors' requests for information on performance and risk mitigation. 

22 April 2022

The EC has adopted its Partnership Agreement with Lithuania, laying down Lithuania’s investment strategy worth €6.4 billion in cohesion policy funding for the period 2021-2027. The cohesion policy funds will continue to support Lithuania’s regions in promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion, supporting key EU priorities such as the green and digital transition. The funds will also contribute to the country’s competitive, innovative and sustainable growth.

26 April 2022

The analysis prepared by Morningstar places Spain among the leaders in sustainability.

The latest edition of the Sustainability Atlas published by Morningstar, evaluates the stock market indices of 48 countries on ESG issues. This latest edition has placed Spain in the sixth position, which is the same position that it held in 2021.

24 April 2022

President of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen, made a speech at the International Solar Alliance in New Delhi. The speech focused on the importance of developing renewable energy capacity in light of climate change and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

26 April 2022

The Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO, by its Spanish acronym) launched a public consultation for the draft National Strategy to Combat Desertification, designed to preserve and improve nature in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas of Spain and to mitigate its effects and restore areas degraded by desertification.

The Strategy proposes a framework of actions and measures to promote integrated land planning and management and to strengthen the role of sustainable management and use of land resources.

Among others, it foresees the strengthening of cooperation mechanisms between the General Government Administration, autonomous communities and local entities for the planning, design and execution of actions to combat desertification.

26 April 2022

The rating agency Moody's has launched Moody's ESG360, an easy-to-use platform that provides portfolio managers with analyst-verified scores on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, climate intelligence and ESG modelled on private and public companies.

The aim of the platform is to enable portfolio managers to identify the best ESG performers, bringing clarity and confidence to investment decisions on these issues.