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Australia Unveils Sustainable Finance Roadmap with Mandatory Climate-Related Financial Disclosures and Sustainable Investment Labels

Australia Unveils Sustainable Finance Roadmap with Mandatory Climate-Related Financial Disclosures and Sustainable Investment Labels

Mandatory Climate-Related Financial Disclosures
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Executive Summary:

Australia’s government is spearheading major sustainable finance reforms to transition to a net-zero economy. These initiatives include mandatory climate-related financial disclosures, the development of a sustainable finance taxonomy, and investment product labels. The Albanese Government aims to mobilize private capital, modernize financial markets, and ensure transparency and confidence for investors and companies.

Key Impact Points:

  • Mandatory Climate Disclosures: Legislation before Parliament for climate-related financial disclosure requirements for large businesses, starting January 2025.
  • Sustainable Finance Taxonomy: Developing a framework to support mobilization of private capital towards sustainable activities.
  • Investment Product Labels: Establishing consistent labels for investment products marketed as sustainable.

Building a net-zero economy that delivers prosperity and security is a defining opportunity for our country and economy,” stated Treasurer Jim Chalmers. “We want to help companies, investors, and the broader community make the most of the energy and net-zero transformation.

Mandatory Climate-Related Financial Disclosures

The government is pushing for mandatory climate-related financial disclosure requirements for large businesses and financial institutions. “These disclosures will provide investors with greater transparency and more comparable information about entities’ exposures to climate-related financial risks and opportunities,” noted Chalmers. Reporting requirements are set to begin on January 1, 2025, pending legislative approval.

The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) aims to finalize climate disclosure standards by August 2024, while the Australian Auditing and Assurance Board (AUASB) will develop assurance standards. ASIC will guide market compliance and consider the impact on existing reporting obligations.

Sustainable Finance Taxonomy Development

Partnering with the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute (ASFI), the government is developing a sustainable finance taxonomy to mobilize private capital towards sustainable activities. This taxonomy will include criteria for six priority sectors and ‘do no significant harm’ principles. “The taxonomy will provide an important source of guidance and consistency for firms, investors, and regulators,” said Chalmers.

The initial taxonomy will be available for voluntary use by the end of 2024, covering green and transition activities in sectors like energy, industry, and agriculture.

Investment Product Labeling Regime To address the complexity of the sustainable finance landscape, the government is establishing consistent labels and disclosure requirements for sustainable investment products. Treasury will develop this new regime, with public consultation planned for early 2025. The target for implementation is 2027.

Integration of Nature-Related Objectives

The government recognizes the importance of nature-related financial risks and opportunities. “We’re encouraging nature-related financial disclosures and developing tools to support voluntary uptake by businesses,” Chalmers emphasized. The 2024-25 Budget allocated $4.1 million for this initiative, with ASIC monitoring regulatory developments.

Supporting Credible Transition Planning

Transition plans are crucial for entities aiming to reduce emissions and manage climate risks. Australia’s new climate disclosure regime will include transition plan disclosure requirements starting January 2025. Treasury will publish best practice guidance for these disclosures by the end of 2025.

Enhancing Market Supervision and Enforcement

ASIC’s focus on greenwashing and sustainable finance-related misconduct aims to maintain market integrity. “Enhanced supervision and enforcement will support transparency and reduce greenwashing harms,” stated Chalmers. ASIC will continue targeted surveillance and enforcement actions through 2024-25.

Related Article: ERM Acquires Energetics to Strengthen Climate Risk and Energy Transition Services in Australia

By working closely with stakeholders, the Albanese Government aims to build market structures that support a sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive economy. “We’re confident that these reforms will help deliver a sustainable economy that benefits investors, communities, and our people,” concluded Chalmers.

Read the full report here

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