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Meg Lee, Hall & Wilcox Partner and Co-Lead ESG, outlines the key trends in environment, social and governance, including an increase in litigation, pressure on public companies from shareholders, and the rise of greenwashing claims. She also talks about importance of ESG education and businesses accurately measuring and reporting ESG actions and impacts.

Transcript

Meg Lee

[Transcript]

ESG is really important to clients across all sectors.

ESG makes good business sense. The business case is really clear. And the research really show really strong alignment where companies have good ESG frameworks and practices and policies and implement those with financial performance.

We’re seeing a key trend at the moment is an increase in litigation. Over the years there’s often a spike in litigation after a conference of the parties. So, after Paris there was a real spike, we’re expecting to see a real spike after the Glasgow conference of the parties last year.

We’re also seeing a key trend that there’s an increase in pressure on public companies to account for their activities to their shareholders and investors. So, shareholder activism, shareholder resolutions, calling for the early closure of coal mines for example, we expect to see that rise.

We’re seeing new legislation in the EU that’s going to mandate ESG reporting. While there’s nothing mandatory in Australia, we expect that’s going to flow through.

Companies that are looking to improve their ESG framework should really first focus on education, so understanding their impacts, seeking advice from experts.

We expect to see a big rise in greenwashing claims this year and focus on it by the regulator.

Really important in the context of greenwashing claims is that companies need to report accurately. So, making sure that your claims are accurate, founded in numbers and in facts, and that you can really back up what you’re saying is really important.

It’s very hard to substantiate a claim that you are going carbon neutral or achieving net zero if you’re not measuring your impacts, so measurement is really important.