Tag: climate change disclosure

TCFD 2019 status report on climate-related disclosure finds improvement, but “progress must be accelerated”

At the WSJ’s CFO Network Annual Meeting this week, the WSJ reported, speakers warned that finance chiefs were “underestimating how climate-related risks, such as extreme weather and changing consumer views on environmental issues, could affect their companies’ bottom lines, and they need to make climate risk assessments a bigger priority.” As reported by the NYT, a member of the CFTC has cautioned that it is “‘abundantly clear that climate change poses financial risk to the stability of the financial system,’” comparing the financial risks from climate change “to those posed by the mortgage meltdown that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.” And, in a survey conducted by a major investment bank of over 600 investors with about $21.5 trillion in assets globally, large investors indicated that they “expect environmental factors will become more pertinent to their investments than traditional financial criteria over the next five years, with more than 80 percent indicating it would be a ‘material risk’ not to integrate ESG factors.” NGOs and other stakeholders have emphasized that transparency is important to allow investors and the financial markets to understand companies’ risk management and corporate governance practices and to make informed decisions regarding capital allocation. In that context, the 2019 status report on company  disclosure regarding climate-related risks and opportunities, just released by the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, sheds some light on the extent of the progress companies are making in helping investors and others better understand those risks.

Companies report financial impact of climate risk

Non-profit CDP (fka the Carbon Disclosure Project) has released its analysis of the responses to its climate change questionnaire for 2018 from two groups of companies—a large group of almost 7,000 respondents and, analyzed separately, a group of 366 respondents that were among the world’s 500 largest companies (by market cap). The analysis focused on the risks and opportunities presented by climate change and, for the first time, the analysis considered companies’ expectations regarding the potential  financial impact of climate risk. In the aggregate, the amount reported was eye-popping, if not exactly surprising, and, given that many companies did not respond at all, is undoubtedly an underestimate.  Notably, however, the aggregate amount companies attributed to potential climate-related opportunities was even “bigger than the risks.” The significance of the potential financial implications, together with the imminence of these risks, suggest that companies may need to think hard about climate risks and the associated financial implications in crafting their public disclosures.

In Senate testimony, SEC Chair offers insights into his thinking on a variety of issues before the SEC

In testimony last week before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, SEC Chair Jay Clayton gave us some insight into his thinking about a number of  issues, including cybersecurity at the SEC, cybersecurity disclosure, the regulatory agenda, disclosure effectiveness, the shareholder proposal process, climate change disclosure, conflict minerals, compulsory arbitration provisions, stock buybacks, the decline in IPOs and overregulation (including some interesting sparring with Senator Warren). Whether any of the topics identified as problematic result in actual rulemaking—particularly in an administration with a deregulatory focus—is an open question.

ExxonMobil shareholders approve climate change proposal — are shareholder proposals on climate change becoming a thing?

by Cydney Posner Are we witnessing the beginning of a new trend?  The history of shareholder proposals to enhance disclosure regarding climate change has been a dismal one. But suddenly, this proxy season, we have climate change proposals succeeding at two — and, as of today, three — major companies. […]

Climate change tops the list of issues in comments on Reg S-K concept release

by Cydney Posner According to BNA, at a recent conference, Corp Fin Director Keith Higgins reported that the highest proportion of comments so far received on the Reg S-K Concept Release related to better environmental and social responsibility disclosure. As SEC  Chair Mary Jo White indicated a few months ago: the […]

Study shows that investment in material sustainability issues yields higher performance

by Cydney Posner With the SEC asking proactively in its concept release (see this PubCo post) whether to mandate sustainability disclosure, the question of the relevance to investors of sustainability issues has assumed a new prominence.  According to the SEC, some investors have requested more disclosure of a variety of […]