The EU Green Bond Standard (EU GBS

It will be logically voluntary. It will be ready to be used in 2022 and aims to set the global standard. Global ESG debt market tops 3 TUSD, with Europe taking a lead as nearly a quarter of its bond sales this year were related to social factors.

Sovereign issuers will be granted some flexibility to assess government spending programs based on their terms and conditions. The 27-member bloc itself is set to become one of the largest issuers, with 30% of its 800 BEUR pandemic recovery funding planned as green debt.

The ESMA will determine whether a bond is green or not, with external reviewers to be approved by the body. Issuers should disclose impact assessments at least once, as well as annual allocation reports for how the funds were used and they will be free to align their bonds alongside other standards.

EU GBS affords issuers an opportunity to launch taxonomy-aligned green bonds at a potentially lower cost of capital. For investors, the standard affords an opportunity to make investments in green bonds that are credible and easier to report on.

More on: https://bit.ly/3gBg7m2

Call for an EU Biodiversity Law

A new resolution to improve biodiversity in Europe was proposed by the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, which includes binding environmental targets for 2030 and 2050. This includes: 30% of EU’s land and sea must be protected áreas; binding targets for urban biodiversity such as green roofs on new buildings; urgent action needed to stop population decline of bees and other pollinators.

MEPs regretted that the EU didn’t achieve its biodiversity targets for 2020 and stated that the new strategy must adequately address the five main drivers of transformation in nature: changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution, and invasive alien species. They are also asking for 20 KMEUR/y for action on biodiversity in Europe.

In addition, they demand the next United Nations conference in October 2021 creates a Paris Agreement that sets global biodiversity priorities for 2030 and beyond.

More on: https://bit.ly/3pW1Wek

“ESG rating disagreements” – new research paper

Rating agencies disagree substantially about how they assess individual firms. Without agreement on what constitutes good ESG performance, market participants can be misled by these ratings.

The authors of this paper found ESG disagreement is most pronounced for firms with high levels of ESG disclosure, contrary to the argument that disclosure reduces disagreement. While thousands of companies now claim to integrate ESG issues in their business strategy and operations, it is not clear whether those claims are merely cheap talk.

Ratings could help investors and other stakeholders to choose companies that exhibit their preferred ESG outcomes. Having rating agencies focus on ESG outcomes could motivate companies to show real outcomes in their disclosures rather than highlighting the adoption of policies or initiatives that might not generate any real effects.

Lot of work still needs to be done to develop rules and norms that determine what characterises good ESG performance.

Authors of the research paper:

Dane Christensen, @GeorgeSerafeim, @AnywhereSikochi . More on https://bit.ly/3ooKChi

Citation:

Christensen, Dane M. and Serafeim, George and Sikochi, Anywhere, Why is Corporate Virtue in the Eye of the Beholder? The Case of ESG Ratings (February 26, 2021). The Accounting Review. DOI: 10.2308/TAR-2019-0506