UPDATE 1-EU mulls new buffers for firms against biodiversity risks, pandemics -draft

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission is considering whether to impose new requirements on firms to shield them from growing risks of biodiversity loss, including future pandemics, a draft document shows, as EU nations grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The document is meant to attract comments from experts and the wider public on next possible legislative steps to strengthen financial sustainability.

Among the issues on which Commission officials are seeking advice is linking company directors’ pay with carbon reduction results and new steps to integrate climate risks into banks’ capital requirements.

“In light of the growing negative impact of biodiversity loss on companies’ profitability and long-term prospects (…) do you think the EU’s sustainable finance agenda should better reflect growing importance of biodiversity loss?” the draft public consultation seen by Reuters says.

The document, which is expected to be published in the coming days and could lead to legislative proposals at a later stage, says the COVID-19 epidemic is showing more clearly the risks associated with human activity and biodiversity loss.

It cites experts suggesting that degraded habitats coupled with a warming climate may cause higher risks of disease transmission, as pathogens spread more easily to livestock and humans.

“It is important – now more than ever – to address the multiple and often interacting threats to ecosystems and wildlife to buffer against the risk of future pandemics,” the document said.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Catherine Evans@fraguarascio

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