Skip to main content

ESG and sustainability

ESG regulatory developments

As the global regulatory framework governing environmental, social and governance business operations and sustainable initiatives continues to evolve, multinational companies are facing an operating environment that is more complex – and potentially more costly – than ever.

From due diligence to sustainable investing, sustainable product design to the energy transition, regulation is setting stricter targets, increasing disclosure requirements, and in some areas, even enforcing market restrictions and product bans. Regulators in various jurisdictions including the US, the EU and the UK are stepping up their efforts to increase transparency of companies and their supply chains, as well as addressing investors’ demands for more complete, comparable and publicly verifiable sustainability-related information.

The EU may have taken the ESG regulatory lead globally, but other legislators are catching up. This poses considerable challenges for multinational clients who must navigate inconsistent and, sometimes conflicting, frameworks and standards. Our global team of legal and public affairs experts provides international clients with legal advice and in-depth understanding of the latest political and policy developments to ensure they stay current and compliant, as well as the opportunity to shape the formulation of future legislative files. 

Client successes

The Freshfields team analysed ESG compliance with respect to disclosure standards (including TCFD, GRI and SASB standards), shareholder engagement, proxy advisory firm expectations and executive compensation matters, and looked at supply chain and human rights considerations and private and public company requirements in these jurisdictions.

This included identification of key trends from climate-related litigation, eg volume of cases, evolution of mass claims, and type of claimants and analyses as to relevant court and OECD NKP cases. The client then asked us to: extend the scope of the report for OMV to relevant US climate change litigation and regulation (with a focus on oil and gas industry); and conduct a similar industry-specific horizon scan for OMV’s subsidiary Borealis, one of the world’s leading providers of advanced and circular polyolefin solutions and a European market leader in basic chemicals and mechanical recycling of plastics, on litigation and regulation effecting the chemical industry (in particular micro plastic related) including the EU, UK and US.