28 Jun 23

EU Launches Draft Sustainability Reporting Standards, impacting 50.000 companies – including yours

The European Union (EU) takes a major leap forward by introducing the draft of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). This new framework supplements the Accounting Directive, as amended by the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), and aims to enhance transparency and accountability in the business world.

The ESRS introduces the concept of "double materiality," expanding the scope of sustainability reporting to a staggering 50,000 listed and private companies, including non-EU companies with significant activities within the EU. As the first wave of reports is due for publication in 2025, it is imperative for industries, particularly the fleet industry responsible for automobile GHG reporting, to reevaluate and strengthen their sustainability strategies and prepare for reporting.

Enhancing Transparency and Accountability

The introduction of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of sustainability within the corporate landscape. By supplementing the Accounting Directive with the CSRD, the EU is taking proactive steps to ensure businesses are held accountable for their environmental and social impacts while also considering the potential effects of sustainability issues on their financial performance.

The concept of "double materiality" is at the core of the ESRS. Traditionally, sustainability reporting focused on the impact of businesses on the environment and society. However, the ESRS expands this scope by emphasizing the reciprocal relationship between sustainability and finance. It acknowledges that sustainability issues can have a profound impact on a company's financial well-being, urging businesses to consider these factors when reporting on their sustainability initiatives.

Broadening the Scope

The reach of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) is both comprehensive and inclusive. The framework applies to an impressive 50,000 listed and private companies, ensuring that a wide range of businesses are accountable for their sustainability practices. Moreover, non-EU companies with significant operations within the EU will also be required to comply with the reporting standards, underscoring the global relevance and impact of this initiative.

Companies across various sectors, including the fleet industry, will need to adapt their reporting strategies to meet the increased demands for transparency and accuracy. For the fleet industry, which has historically been tasked with automobile greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting, this represents an opportunity to reassess and strengthen their sustainability efforts. As the demand for sustainability reporting grows stronger than ever before, fleet operators will need to align their strategies with the ESRS to maintain credibility and demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices.

Future Outlook and Imperative Action

The implementation of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) will come into effect in the financial year 2024, with the first wave of reports due for publication in 2025. This timeline emphasizes the urgent need for businesses to reevaluate and strengthen their sustainability strategies promptly.

Practically, if your company is based in Europe and counts over 500 employees, or your company is non-European with significant activities in Europe, you need to be ready to report from 2024 onwards and be able to submit a compliant reporting in 2025.

Picture Credit: Shutterstock 2215551121

Authored by: Yves Helven