ESG Reporting, Standards & Frameworks
The pressure to measure, report and disclose ESG performance is growing by the month. This is coming in the shape of both mandatory obligations, as well as the ‘voluntary’ requirements of customers, shareholders & funders.
Climate change is a substantive risk to assets and supply chains. Governments and the financial services industry is now addressing this challenge by integrating ESG data into investment diligence processes in order to mitigate risk and maximise opportunity.
The ESG reporting landscape has seen constant movement with the evolution and expansion of new frameworks, standards and ratings. The challenge for most businesses is understanding which of these is most appropriate to their organisation, their aspirations, and which will deliver them the most value moving forward.
Below we offer a simple overview of the main frameworks, standard and rating, and their intended purpose.
ESG Reporting, Standards & Frameworks Overview:
The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board published a group of standards that pinpoint a sub-set of financially relevant sustainability topics and metrics depending on a company’s industry and sector type. These standards aim to highlight material ESG issues, which could affect financial performance, to companies and investors.
The SASB standards cover issues that cover its ‘Five Dimensions of Sustainability’:
Business Model & Innovation
Leadership & Governance
Focus: Public companies primarily in the US.
The GHG Protocol
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol established a set of global standardised frameworks to manage and measure greenhouse gas emissions from the private and public sector operations, value chains and mitigation actions. These include:
The GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard
The Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Standard
The Product Standard
(aimed at companies & organisations)
The Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC)
The GHG Protocol Mitigation Goal Standard
The GHG Protocol Policy and Action Standard
(aimed at countries & cities)
The GHG Protocol for Project Accounting
(aimed at both companies & organisations and countries & cities)
Focus: A wide focus targeting both the public and private sectors at multiple levels and scales.
Audience: A wide range of stakeholders
Reporting: GHG reporting is mandatory for companies that meet the criteria of the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) and Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) however currently no one GHG standard is specified. The GHG Protocol may yet become this standard in the future.
The Global Reporting Initiative is an international standards organisation that aims at helping businesses and governments understand and disclose their impacts on issues such as climate change and human rights. GRI’s framework for sustainability reporting assists companies to gather and report their sustainability data in a clear and comparable manner.
The GRI Standards are the first global standards for sustainability reporting and represent best practice for reporting on economic, environmental and social impacts. The standards are modular and are designed to be used together to generate sustainability reports focused on material topics for any given organisation.
Focus: Aimed at all companies and is mostly universal in nature with small elements of sector-specific guidance. Includes environmental, social and governance reporting.
Audience: A wide range of stakeholders
The Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures was created to deliver a set of consistent comparable disclosures that companies can use to display their climate change resilience to investors and capital providers.
The TCFD does not assess a company’s impact on the environment, but rather it assesses the environments impact on a company. These disclosures are aimed at ensuring climate risk is properly priced into company valuations.
Focus: Aimed at all companies in the form of a sustainability supplement to annual fillings. Includes environmental and governance reporting.
Audience: Investors, lenders, insurers
Reporting: Mandatory for all publicly listed UK companies with premium listings in the form of comply or explain by 2023 and full disclosure, subject to further consultation, by 2025.
The Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) defines and introduces transparency requirements on financial products’ characteristics that can be used and compared to assess their degree of sustainability.
The SFDR and the EU Taxonomy Regulation aim to standardise the transparency of financial products to help tackle green washing.
Focus: Aimed at all Financial Market Participants (FMPs) extending to product manufacturers and financial advisors, located or operating within the EU.
Audience: Investors, wider stakeholders
Reporting: Mandatory product level and legal entity level disclosure from March 2021.
Benchmarks and Ratings
GRESB validates, scores and benchmarks self-reported ESG performance data for real estate at a portfolio and asset level. The GRESB survey consists of three main components (Performance, Management and Development), which are broken down into a series of ‘Aspects’ which cover specific topics (e.g. diversity & inclusion, water, waste etc.).
Focus: Real Estate asset and fund level focus.
Reporting: Reporting into GRESB is voluntary. The results of GRESB applications are publicly available however results of a first submission can be made private.
The Carbon Disclosure project runs an environmental performance disclosure platform for investors, companies, governments, cities and regions. The CDP disclosure programs include:
Carbon Action Initiatives
Each year, the self-disclosed information is used to generate scores to benchmark the environmental performance of the participating companies and cities.
Focus: A broad focus of public and private entities. Includes environmental and governance reporting.
Audience: A wide range of stakeholders, investors, and buyers
ESG is the global measure of ‘profit with purpose’. The risks and opportunities remain irrespective of a company’s geographic location.
We will see a continued movement from voluntary ESG reporting to statutory obligations and inevitably those voluntary measures also becoming less optional.
For companies it is important to stay ahead of this curve. New mandatory reporting criteria will force the need for data collection further down the supply chain. Businesses must ensure they have this information ready to secure their access to finance.
Establishing effective ESG data collection now will enable companies to both reduce risk and maximise opportunities.
Sustainability remains the centre of any successful business. For more information on developing an ESG strategy and integrating ESG reporting & data collection, please get in touch.
Governex is an ESG advisory business that helps businesses with corporate governance as well as answering the question of how they make positive contribution to the environment and social issues.
We help organisations implement the right shift in focus from a purely financial commitment to include environmental, social and governance commitments. All in the context of meeting business purpose, strategy, integrity and diversity.
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