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FRC review of 2020 UK Stewardship Code reporting

Following the publication of its 2020 Stewardship Code (which took effect from 1 January 2020), at the end of September the FRC released its review of the early reporting which has taken place under the new Code. While the FRC notes that some firms have made 'good attempts' at early reporting, it says there is more to be done to ensure that investors meet the high standard of reporting on stewardship activities undertaken and outcomes achieved, rather than just stating intent or policy.

Due diligence on forest risk commodities

The UK Government launched a consultation on 25 August 2020 seeking the views of stakeholders on whether they should introduce a new law aimed at preventing forests and other important natural areas globally from being illegally converted in to agricultural land, following a recommendation from the Government's independent Global Resource Initiative taskforce.

Consultation on Mandatory Climate Reporting – The building of a "new, sustainable financial system"

The Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA")'s proposal requires UK premium listed entities to state whether they comply with the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures ("TCFD") and/or to explain any non-compliance. Although the TCFD already has more than 500 supporters (including 457 companies and 56 other organizations e.g. industry associations and governments), the proposed changes reflect the view that further active intervention is needed in order to accelerate climate change reporting.

COVID-19: Government easements for businesses and employer liability considerations

On 11 May 2020 the Government published practical guidance1 for employers on how to keep their workforce safe by implementing safety measures differentiated according to the activities undertaken, the physical spaces occupied by, and the demographic risk profiles associated with, relevant employees. Furthermore, in June 2020 the Government set out a timeline for retail stores to reopen2 which as of 4 July 2020 has been extended to include a set of further easements to other businesses and venues in the hospitality, personal care, accommodation and leisure space.

The European Green Deal - overview and status report

The European Green Deal, announced by the European Commission in December 2019, commits the EU to becoming climate-neutral by 2050 whilst promising to help companies to become world leaders in clean products and green technologies. The ambitious and wide-ranging measures set out in the plan are aimed at achieving significant reductions in carbon emissions and a net zero target will be given legislative force in a new Climate Law.

COVID-19: returning to work - Health & Safety considerations - UK Government's COVID-19 'Recovery Strategy' and 'Secure' Guidelines

Following the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 10 May 2020, the UK Government published on 11 May 2020 its COVID-19 Recovery Strategy ("Recovery Strategy") and ‘COVID-19 Secure’ Guidelines ("Secure Guidelines").  These official guidance documents seek to aid the general public and businesses on navigating their way out of the current lockdown over the coming weeks and months. These are conditional steps and remain subject to meeting the UK Government's five key tests.  

(Somewhat) Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR)

The Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) framework is designed to simplify organisations' reporting of energy use and carbon emissions. It aims to improve on the various mandatory energy and carbon schemes: the recently closed Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) was criticised as administratively burdensome and complex; the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), which remains in force, is generally regarded as being too limited in scope and crucially does not involve public disclosure.

COVID-19: Guidance on Critical Workers

The Government has published its list of "key workers" whose work is considered critical to the COVID-19 response. The guidance is directed at schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England, and is intended to provide clarity, following the widespread closure of schools, as to which workers are considered sufficiently "key" for their children to be afforded continued care at school.

Budget 2020: Climate change

The climate featured heavily in the Chancellor's speech today (11 March 2020) forming part of the government's strategy to create high skill, high wage, low carbon jobs. This all falls under HM Treasury's Net Zero Review which aims to make the UK a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

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