The REP WRAP: EU taxonomy ‘suggestions box’ launched and Bayer named most effective ESG communicator

Your weekly summary of corporate sustainability news.

The European Commission has launched a ‘suggestions box’ to help it steer the development of the EU taxonomy. The new Stakeholder Request Mechanism will allow companies and others to “submit suggestions based on scientific and/or technical evidence on new economic activities that could be added to the EU taxonomy or on potential revisions of technical screening criteria of existing activities”. Proposals will be evaluated by the EU’s Platform on Sustainable Finance at regular intervals, starting on 15 December.

Regulators in South Korea are postponing the introduction of ESG disclosure rules for listed companies, in order to account for delays in similar rules from the International Sustainability Standards Board and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The Financial Services Commission said on Monday that the rules, which were slated to come in in 2025, will now be push back until at least 2026.

Italian energy company Enel is set to miss its emissions intensity goals as a result of changes to European energy policy, according to researchers. The firm met its targets for installing renewable energy capacity, but governments have prevented it from switching some coal plants to gas, in light of the war in Ukraine. This means it is likely not to meet its emissions intensity targets, which are embedded into 10 Enel sustainability-linked bonds. If it happened, it would  trigger a step-up that think-tank Anthropocene Fixed Income Institute says would cost $27m in the first year - the biggest in the SLB market so far.  

More than 80% of companies being targeted by shareholder engagement group Climate Action 100+ have set medium- and long-term GHG reduction targets, according to the initiative’s latest progress report. But CA100+, which convenes investors to steward their high-emitting portfolio companies towards net zero by 2050, warned that “most of these targets are not sufficiently comprehensive or Paris aligned” and only a third have medium-term targets covering their scope 3 emissions.

A major study has shown that nearly 600 companies are developing new coal assets, which could “shatter” any hope of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. NGO Urgewald convened a group of more than 40 NGOs to create the latest Global Coal Exit List. It found that, out of 1,433 coal companies and 1,900 subsidiaries, just 71 have announced any dates for existing coal.

Bayer has been named the company with the most effective sustainability-related communications. The German pharma giant topped a list of 100 global corporates whose websites did a good job of promoting their sustainability credentials. UK-based media marketing firm Investis Digital ranked companies on “the transparency, leadership, and connectivity that they demonstrate with digital content”. More than 80% of websites it analysed had a dedicated ESG page, and more than half included tangible targets (56%) and details of ESG ratings (67%). Shell, Sainsbury’s, Vodafone and Unilever also made the top 20.

The UK Competition & Markets Authority issued guidance last week on how competition and antitrust law would be applied to sustainability agreements. The guidance outlines circumstances in which companies would be allowed to collaborate with peers in pursuit green objectives, such as improving water or air quality, protecting biodiversity or achieving decarbonisation goals. It also establishes a mechanism through which firms can approach the CMA for guidance when they’re drafting such agreements.