Climate change and environmental law: The EU is preparing updates in regulation on agriculture and labelling of plastics

A number of regulatory innovations and changes have been put into practice in the first quarter of 2021. For example, new waste regulations came into force in the Czech Republic. Furthermore, financial market participants have been required to publish information on the sustainability of their organisations since March. The coming months will see progress in many other areas, such as the enlargement of the ETS market or new rules for setting the carbon tariff. Read about the highlights in environmental law of recent months and about the legislative news that can be expected in the future.

Court of Justice of the EU: Authorities have to disclose internal environmental communications if public interest prevails

Environmental law is a comprehensive and rapidly developing set of various norms having an essential impact on our world. That is one of the reasons why the contents of such regulations have to be constantly reviewed, made more specific and reinterpreted. The Court of Justice of the EU has issued two essential judgements in this respect. In the first, the court addresses the obligation to examine the availability of safe alternatives before dangerous chemicals are put on the market. In the second, it lays out the conditions under which public authorities have to disclose their internal environmental communications. The European Commission did not lag behind and issued guidelines on environmental damage. This should make enforcement of rectification easier and more unified.

To repair or to throw away? The new EU legislation should ensure longer life of electrical home appliances

The first quarter of 2021 brought a lot of news in the area of circular economy. For example, the long-awaited regulation of single-use plastic is becoming more specific and the European Commission has issued a regulation on the new labelling of such products. A set of ecodesign requirements has also become effective, stipulating an obligation for the producers of electrical appliances to ensure the availability of spare parts for up to 10 years after the product has been introduced on the market. Other novelties include the findings of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which calculated that a global change of fiscal policy would be the biggest push factor for the transition to circular economy, or a new report by the European Environment Agency, according to which the production of plastic got cheaper also due to the pandemic and the related decrease in economic activities.

Climate change has a global impact on the environment and economy. The EU has prepared a new adaptation strategy

The European Union is aware of the ubiquitous impacts of climate change and has therefore prepared a new strategy in recent months to help European countries better achieve climate neutrality and effectively prepare for the coming changes together. Another novelty is the regulation of the European Commission that defines how carbon dioxide emission data will be collected from car on-board computers. Climate change is an increasingly important issue for business and companies from various sectors and even for individuals. For example, a brand’s impact on the environment is crucial for millennials to such an extent that they would change their employer depending on it; and companies are well aware of this fact – on a global scale, up to 30% of them are already experiencing the effects of the climate change on the day-to-day business operation.

Sustainable investments are more profitable than traditional funds and more resilient to the impacts of the pandemic

In March, the long-awaited Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (“SFDR”) came into effect. This regulation introduces new requirements for informing investors and transparency in financial services. However, the new regulation is not complete yet and, contrary to the plans originally announced, the clarification of obligations will be delayed. This is bad news especially for investors because, as the studies of some finance companies have shown, the popularity of sustainable investments is growing rapidly. The transparency issue is also the subject matter of a new ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU, according to which the European Investment Bank is required to review its decisions that have an impact on the environment and the social sphere.

The Modernisation Fund brings about new challenges, focuses on renewable resources and emission reduction

In order to achieve sustainability, public funding cannot be omitted. The State Environmental Fund thus announces new calls of the Modernisation Fund aimed at the Modernisation of the Heat Supply System (HEAT), New Renewable Energy Resources (RES+), Energy Efficiency Enhancement and Reduction in the Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the EU Industry (ENERG ETS). At the same time, the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade has changed the schedule of calls for 2021 and plans to announce calls in the Application, Innovation and Potential Programmes. These calls make it possible to green the traffic and to invest in innovation and research. However, the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic does not lag behind. A public tender has been announced that is focused on the support of applied research, experimental development and innovation called THETA with the aim to establish high-quality management in the areas of energy and use of new technologies and system elements.

The UN introduced a new concept of ecosystem accounting that considers the value of natural capital

Topics on the sustainable use of natural capital have been coming to the fore of the social interest. As agriculture is directly dependent on the use of environmental compartments, it must not only face the impacts of climate change, but also the increasing requirements for the inclusion of environmental objectives in agricultural production. This transformation is to be supported by the Action Plan for the Development of Organic Production that is supposed to motivate farmers to a more environmentally friendly approach. Another important topic in this field is the ground-breaking adoption of a new system of environmental and ecosystem accounts. An increase in the awareness of the value of ecosystem services could change the approach of the private sector to environmental protection and help eliminate environmental risks and increase corporate social responsibility.

EnviLaw newsletter

Upcoming events

Seminars, webcasts, business breakfasts and other events organized by Deloitte.

    Show morearrow-right