ASIC Expands Greenwashing Focus
(10 November 2023 – Australia) ASIC is mulling a broadened greenwashing scope to include net zero statements, "carbon neutral" terminology and application of investment exclusions and screens.
ASIC has already issued a series of infringement notices totalling more than A$150,000 with three active civil court actions over greenwashing allegations. Financial markets participants are racing to keep up with ESG developments as the concept becomes more ingrained. With mandatory climate-related reporting planned for 2024-2028, a critical skills gap remains a key risk.
Separately a prominent ANZ shareholder is taking the bank to court over allegations that it has failed to manage the material risks of climate change, biodiversity loss adequate and does not have appropriate risk management plans for climate and nature risks.
Catherine Rossiter asserts that ANZ’s peers are significantly reducing their fossil fuel lending in line with the International Energy Agency's finding that new fossil fuel investment must stop if we want to reach net zero emissions by 2050. "ANZ appears to be a climate and biodiversity laggard, and I want more information on how the bank is governed."
"Our enforcement actions in response to concerns of greenwashing misconduct range from warning letters, infringement notices and undertakings to civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court. We generally select enforcement matters that are likely to have a broad reach, so that they have a deterrent effect beyond the issue we are prosecuting and send a compliance message to the sector” said ASIC Deputy Chair, Sarah Court.