None can dispute the physical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change across the world. Scientists continue to warn countries against the irreplaceable consequences of greenhouse gases or GHG gases crossing the threshold.

APAC and ESG Regulations

APAC and ESG RegulationsUshering sustainability one country at a time

None can dispute the physical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change across the world. Scientists continue to warn countries against the irreplaceable consequences of greenhouse gases or GHG gases crossing the threshold.

Nations and businesses today, continue to deploy climate change technologies to accelerate net-zero initiatives. However, the process of decarbonization is moving forward at a snail’s pace as different countries have differing views about when and how they can reduce their fossil fuel consumption.

While sustainability is not in favor across the USA, the Asia-Pacific or APAC regions are showcasing promising growth. From a business standpoint as well, the McKinsey report suggests that more than 15 countries and 670 enterprises have set or committed to set emission-reduction targets.

These claims will generate opportunities in the green technology sector. According to another McKinsey report, green technology is expected to reach between $4 trillion and $5 trillion by 2030.

These numbers promise brighter and more sustainable opportunities across the APAC region and several countries too, are taking strides to reach their net-zero goals. In the next section, we shall see the major APAC players and their sustainable initiatives.

APAC regions and ESG regulations: What’s new

  • China
    Bloomberg news has reported that China’s biggest companies and government-backed think tanks have set a standard with over 100 variables for Chinese enterprises to report on ESG metrics. This standard aligns with the global benchmark of draft rules issued by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). The Chinese government expects that such initiatives would help them progress in their net-zero journey and meet a net-zero target by 2060.
  • Hong Kong
    In November 2021, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) published guidance to listed issuers on climate disclosures. Following the guidelines of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the guidance on Climate Disclosures will enable enterprises to assess and disclose their response to ESG risks arising from climate change. All businesses listed under HKEX shall be subject to this regulation, whether through mandatory disclosures or “comply or explain” provisions.
  • Singapore
    In Singapore, the SGX Sustainability Reporting Guide, which is based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards, is often used as a framework for companies to report on their ESG performance. Singapore Exchange (SGX) provides guidance on sustainability reporting for the companies listed in SGX. SGX also launched the SGX Sustainability Leaders index in 2020, which is based on a comprehensive set of ESG criteria, to recognize and encourage companies to improve their ESG performance.
  • India
    The top 1000 listed companies in India have been notified by the Securities and Exchange Board of India in 2021 to prepare Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reports (BRSR). This format helps give due importance to financial reporting and sustainability reporting.
  • Japan
    Japan’s Corporate Governance Code highly encourages enterprises listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to produce sustainability reports to disclose opportunities and risks related to climate change. To further strengthen ESG parameters, Japan’s Financial Services Agency is also working on a proposal for mandatory climate risk disclosure and updated disclosure guidelines. This new rule is expected to be more enforceable and extensive than the current approach.
  • Thailand
    The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) has implemented an ESG disclosure and reporting framework for listed companies that include reporting guidelines on a multitude of ESG parameters. Furthermore, the SET has actively been involved and introduced an ESG index and an ESG disclosure rating system to encourage companies to improve their ESG performance. They have also introduced Sustainability Disclosure Guidelines – which helps them promote the ESG-related disclosure of the listed companies. For enterprises choosing to report their ESG performance, the SET allows using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) frameworks.
  • Indonesia
    While a legal or government-led framework is absent, some organizations such as Indonesian Sustainable Finance Forum (ISFF), and initiatives have been created to promote ESG practices and reporting in the country. Speaking of ISFF, they plan to promote sustainable finance and responsible investment in the country. To do so, they devised guidelines for businesses and established the Indonesian Sustainable Finance Index (ISFI) to recognize companies that have demonstrated strong ESG performance. The Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) also launched the IDX Sustainability Index (IDXSI) in 2020, which is designed to recognize publicly listed companies that demonstrate strong ESG performance and to encourage companies to improve their ESG performance.

Based on these trends, we notice that most of the APAC nations are taking strong strides toward achieving their net-zero commitments. However, it is crucial to note that these regulations and requirements also bring forth challenges. In the next section, let us look at some of the emerging challenges in the APAC region.

Addressing challenges in the APAC region

While the APAC region has seen significant increase in implementing ESG strategies, one of the key challenges is the prevalence of a multitude of ESG regulations. This means that different countries will be focusing on different regulations, which poses a serious challenge for enterprises with a global presence. It means that they must remake their sustainability report as per different regulations, costing time and effort.

Additionally, several countries continue to choose fossil fuels and push back their net-zero goal. This seem to indicate that sustainability has been a façade used for greenwashing. Only with time can a concrete plan be formulated that is congruent across the APAC region giving shape to a net-zero world.

Other resources

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