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Clifford Chance

Climate, sustainability, green finance and renewables

Future-proofing our clients' businesses

The profile of corporate sustainability has been growing steadily and pressure on businesses is increasing from multiple angles.

Climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy are top of the political agenda. Governments and regulators are responding to the need to mobilise green, climate smart, environmentally friendly financing. These issues present a range of challenges for businesses and innovation and technology are key to success in the future. We help clients to future-proof their businesses and identify risks and opportunities.

2018 Global environment newsletter

This edition of the Global Environment Newsletter covers the following topics:

  • INTERNATIONAL: IMO Releases its initial Greenhouse Gas Strategy for Shipping: Strategy targets 40% GHG emission reductions by 2030, with efforts to achieve 70% reductions by 2030
  • INTERNATIONAL:Green Bond Principles 2018: New version refines environmental objectives and recommends independent external review
  • EU: Circular Economy Package Legislation Adopted: New rules on recycling, waste separation, landfilling and extended producer responsibility to be transposed by Member States by 5 July 2020
  • EU: European Commission Proposes New Protection for Whistleblowers: A new Directive seeks to improve reporting channels and prevent retaliatory behaviour
  • EU: Sustainable Finance Legislative Proposals Published: A new environmental sustainable taxonomy, requirements to disclose ESG risks and carbon benchmarking
  • EU/UK: The 'People Over Wind' Habitats Assessment Case: Mitigation and avoidance measures can no longer be taken into account when determining whether full habitats assessment is required for projects
  • BELGIUM: New Soil Clean-Up Statute in the Walloon Region: Less stringent decontamination standards set to incentivise clean-up works
  • CHINA: Recent Developments in the Hong Kong Green Bond Market: New $100bn green bond issuance programme and grant scheme established
  • NETHERLANDS: Exiting Coal in the Netherlands: Dutch Government proposes a new phased ban on coal-fired power generation
  • UK: Open Cast Mine Rejected on Grounds of Climate Change Impact: Possibility that applicants for development projects will need to consider supply chain impacts

Read more


Sustainability Snapshot: UK FCA signals next steps in its strategy on climate change and green finance

The UK financial services regulator has signalled the steps it intends to take over the next few months in order to meet its strategic objectives on climate change and green finance. Promoting sustainable finance is a key issue for governments, policy makers, regulators and businesses internationally. Given how serious regulators and policy makers appear to be about tackling this issue, industry players should expect to see more climate-related regulatory initiatives in the pipeline in the short to medium term.

In this briefing, we outline the four priority areas the FCA has identified and note some of the issues that may arise. Read more here.

Sustainable Infrastructure: The financing challenge

The recently published IPCC special report on the impact of global warming predicts that an unprecedented level of sustainable infrastructure investment will be needed every year until 2050 and beyond to limit global warming to the Paris Climate Agreement’s target of 1.5 °C. Here we explore the challenges facing infrastructure investment and the potential role of the ‘green finance’ market, governments and multi-laterals in achieving this objective. Read more.

Sustainability and its impact on business

The profile of corporate sustainability has been growing steadily over the last few years. Boosted by initiatives such as the UN Global Compact and its Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the topic is becoming a mainstream and core focus of business operations in many sectors. Read more.

The EU's Sustainable Finance legislative proposals - What you need to know

Following the publication of its Sustainable Finance Action Plan in March 2018 the EU Commission has published a series of legislative proposals which aim to embed sustainable finance into the heart of the investment process and harness “the vast power of capital markets in the fight against climate change and promoting sustainability”. Read more.

EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan - What you need to know

The European Commission recently unveiled its strategy for reforming the EU financial system to support its climate and sustainable development agenda. Read more.

'Make our planet great again' - Green, Social and Sustainability Bonds

This alert highlights some of the themes discussed at the Green Bond Principles 3rd AGM and Annual Conference in Paris on 14 June 2017. Read more.

Green finance

The EU Sustainable Action Plan - an update report

As the current European Parliament's term draws to a close it is an opportune time to take stock of the progress made under the Commission's Sustainable Action Plan (the "SAP"). The SAP published in March 2018 is ambitious with three broad aims (1) to reorient capital flows towards a more sustainable economy, (2) to mainstream sustainability in risk management and (3) to foster transparency and long-termism. These aims are scoped in further detail in 10 separate action points. Some of the action points have been more fully realised than others but the progress made in a year is impressive and reflects the EU's commitment to the sustainability and low-carbon transition agenda. Read more.

Greening the Financial System

In this publication we have brought together our team to outline developments in green financing in local markets across the globe, demonstrating the sometimes contrasting approaches of different regions. We also focus on notable green financing products that show great future promise, notably sovereign green bonds, green loans and green securitisation. But the trend for innovation doesn’t stop there and green equities, sukuk, regulatory capital and hybrid bonds also look set to be growth areas in the year ahead. Read more.


Clean Energy for all Europeans – New EU Rules for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Three acts of the Clean Energy for all Europeans Package, covering renewable energy, energy efficiency and governance, have entered into force at the end of 2018 and will reshape the renewable energy landscape in Europe over the coming years. Read more.

Renewable Incentives Guide: Towards a Subsidy-Free World? - new 6th Edition

The 6th edition of our Renewables Incentives Guide covers renewable incentives in 21 major countries. Read more.

Hydropower - Overview and selected key issues

Hydropower is the most widely used and the oldest form of renewable energy produced around the world. It offers flexible technology that, at its smallest, can power a single home, and at its largest can supply industry and the public with renewable electricity on a national and even regional scale. This briefing looks at the key features of hydropower projects. Read more.

Climate change

Government commits to 'Net Zero by 2050' Target

The UK Government has committed to reducing UK Greenhouse Gas emissions to net zero by 2050, following the recent recommendations of the advisory Climate Change Committee. However, significant uncertainty about detailed implementation remains. Read more here.

UK climate advisor recommends 2050 net zero carbon emissions target

A new report by the UK Climate Change Committee has recommended that the UK toughens its climate target to net zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050. Read more here.

Climate change and the pressure on coal - latest developments

This briefing explores some of the action being taken by the public and private sectors and the impact on the industry. Read more here.

Implementing the Paris Agreement - Progress made at COP24 in Katowice, Poland

The COP 24 international climate change meeting in Katowice took place at the beginning of December 2018. Hailed as a great success by some stakeholders, and decried by others as lacking in ambition, the conference has at least made progress on implementing some areas of the 2015 Paris Agreement.  A key disappointment, however, was the deferral until November 2019 of a decision on creating a new emissions trading framework to take over from the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms which operate until the end of 2020. Read more.

A green and sustainable round up

Against the well-publicised backdrop of the IPCC Report there have been a number of other papers and publications in recent weeks that also continue to shape the regulatory environment on green and sustainable finance. This briefing summarises the TCFD Status Report, the PRA and FCA papers on climate change and green finance and the European Parliament’s proposed amendments to the Commission’s benchmark regulation proposals from June. It also looks briefly, in the context of the Green GB Week, at some of the key UK government’s proposals on green finance and climate change. Read more.

New energy and carbon reporting rules: UK Clean Growth Strategy

These briefings look at the proposals published as part of the UK Government's new Clean Growth Strategy, which sets out its plans to promote growth using a low carbon economy. the Government's thinking on corporate reporting on carbon and energy. In the UK Clean Growth Strategy - New energy and carbon reporting rules, we consider the Government's thinking on corporate reporting. In the UK Clean Growth Strategy – Drawing The Strands Together, we consider the broad scope of the Clean Growth Strategy and its key elements. In the future UK corporate energy and carbon reporting framework and the end of the CRC scheme, we look at the BEIS response to the consultation on the proposals.

New UK plan for energy storage, smart systems and flexibility

We assess the UK Government's plan for a smart and flexible energy system. Read more.

Report urges companies to disclose climate change impacts in financial filings

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures has published recommendations and detailed guidelines for companies to include climate-related information within their financial disclosures. Read more.