In addition to the array of voluntary reporting frameworks, there are countless national and regional regulations covering sustainability issues.
The Carrots & Sticks database, which aggregates and analyzes global voluntary and mandatory provisions for sustainability reporting, has identified about 600 of them. Europe leads the way in environmental and sustainability regulations. Every country on the continent has at least one voluntary or mandatory, adding up to about 230 that Carrots & Sticks has identified to date. On top of national legislation sit 16 provisions mandated by the European Union for its 27 member states. These have been gradually introduced over time.
The EU’s environmental regulations are some of the most stringent in the world. For the past 20 years, it has added sustainable development as a central objective and has made it a guiding principle with the pending Green Deal, which aims to make the bloc carbon neutral by 2030 (see Green Deal).
The three major economies of North America – the United States, Canada and Mexico – have sustainability-linked legislation on the books at a similar level to Europe.
South America also fairs well, with Colombia and Brazil leading the pack, despite Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign pledge to exploit the Amazon Rainforest.
Asian heavyweights China, Australia, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia do the most to mandate sustainability in that part of the world.
Africa comes in last, with most countries having very few or no sustainability policies in place. But that’s not to say there isn’t a great deal of carbon capture work being done.
Caveat: the number of provisions is not an indicator of how sustainably minded the administration is compared with any other, since sustainability measures can be bundled together. Implementation is also an entirely separate issue.
The following sections are summaries of a selection of the main policies that are in place or pending.