ESG: Acting SEC Chair Solicits Public Comment on Climate Change Disclosure
Well, it looks like this blog has to continue with its “All ESG, All the Time” format for at least another day. The latest event that’s preventing me from taking my preferred approach & blogging about literally any other topic is yesterday’s announcement from Acting SEC Chair Allison Herren Lee that the agency is soliciting public comment on climate change disclosure.
The announcement identifies 15 specific climate disclosure-related questions on which the SEC would like public input. These range from the fairly mundane (What are the advantages & disadvantages of rules that incorporate or draw on existing frameworks?) to the downright hair-raising (How should the SEC’s rules address climate change disclosure by private companies?).
The final question notes that the Staff is evaluating a range of ESG disclosure issues & asks if climate-related requirements should be one component of a broader ESG disclosure framework. That’s a good segue into the speech that Acting Chair Lee also gave yesterday at the Center for American Progress, in which she outlined her views on the SEC’s climate change & ESG agenda. In case you haven’t already figured it out, this excerpt indicates that the SEC is going to be a very different place than it has been over the past several years:
Human capital, human rights, climate change – these issues are fundamental to our markets, and investors want to and can help drive sustainable solutions on these issues. We see that unmistakably in shifts in capital toward ESG investing, we see it in investor demands for disclosure on these issues, we see it increasingly reflected on corporate proxy ballots, and we see it in corporate recognition that consumers and investors alike are watching corporate responses to these issues more closely than ever.
That’s why climate and ESG are front and center for the SEC. We understand these issues are key to investors – and therefore key to our core mission.
While climate change & ESG may be front and center, Acting Chair Lee indicated that they aren’t the only items on the agenda. Others include potentially undoing last year’s changes to the shareholder proposal process, revisiting the SEC’s guidance on proxy voting by investment advisors and finalizing a universal proxy rule.
-John Jenkins, TheCorporateCounsel.net March 16, 2021
Want to keep reading?
Great. Enter your email address and gain instant access to this article