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Investors Urge EU Commission to Uphold ESRS “Integrity”

Five investor member organisations have led 93 investors in calling on the European Commission to maintain the “integrity and ambition” of the first set of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). A letter to the Commission expressing “concern” over the ESRS’ was co-ordinated by the European Sustainable Investment Forum, the Principles for Responsible Investment, the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, the European Fund and Asset Management Association, and the United Nations Environment Programme Financial Initiative. The response comes after the proposals were reported to be moving away from requiring certain key disclosure indicators to be reported on a mandatory basis, which will instead be subject to materiality assessment. The investors called this a “significant rollback of ambition” compared to that envisaged by the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) in the group’s final technical advice presented to the Commission in November 2022. The letter said that the ESRS was originally intended to address data gaps across the EU sustainable finance rules, but this proposed approach “would limit investor access to the consistent, comparable and reliable information”. The response calls on the Commision to maintain key climate disclosure indicators as mandatory, including Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions and disclosures, and require explanations on why certain sustainability topics are not considered material for a company. It also underlines the importance of ensuring that environmental and social indicators relevant to the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, EU Climate Benchmark Regulation and Climate Benchmarks Delegated Acts, Pillar 3 disclosures. The International Corporate Governance Network has also recommended that the Commission maintains mandatory key climate indicator and transition plan reporting, saying it would be “preferable for the Commission to send a strong signal to companies by making this information mandatory”. The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive is underpinned by the ESRS which specify how companies report on sustainability matters and are designed to reflect sustainability report users’ growing needs for comparable, relevant and reliable information.

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