Sponsored By

Many industries will be relieved by this ruling.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

March 7, 2024

4 Min Read
Image courtesy of AVTG / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has voted 3-2 in favor of climate risk disclosures rule, which means some of the largest publicly traded companies must disclose their levels of greenhouse gas emissions to investors.

The rules will enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures by public companies and in public offerings. The final rules reflect the Commission’s efforts to respond to investors’ demand for more consistent, comparable, and reliable information about the financial effects of climate-related risks on a registrant’s operations and how it manages those risks while balancing concerns about mitigating the associated costs of the rules.

Specifically, the final rules will require a registrant to disclose:

  • Climate-related risks that have had or are reasonably likely to have a material impact on the registrant’s business strategy, results of operations, or financial condition;

  • The actual and potential material impacts of any identified climate-related risks on the registrant’s strategy, business model, and outlook;

  • If, as part of its strategy, a registrant has undertaken activities to mitigate or adapt to a material climate-related risk, a quantitative and qualitative description of material expenditures incurred and material impacts on financial estimates and assumptions that directly result from such mitigation or adaptation activities;

  • Specified disclosures regarding a registrant’s activities, if any, to mitigate or adapt to a material climate-related risk including the use, if any, of transition plans, scenario analysis, or internal carbon prices;

  • Any oversight by the board of directors of climate-related risks and any role by management in assessing and managing the registrant’s material climate-related risks;

  • Any processes the registrant has for identifying, assessing, and managing material climate-related risks and, if the registrant is managing those risks, whether and how any such processes are integrated into the registrant’s overall risk management system or processes;

  • Information about a registrant’s climate-related targets or goals, if any, that have materially affected or are reasonably likely to materially affect the registrant’s business, results of operations, or financial condition. Disclosures would include material expenditures and material impacts on financial estimates and assumptions as a direct result of the target or goal or actions taken to make progress toward meeting such target or goal;

  • For large accelerated filers (LAFs) and accelerated filers (AFs) that are not otherwise exempted, information about material Scope 1 emissions and/or Scope 2 emissions;

  • For those required to disclose Scope 1 and/or Scope 2 emissions, an assurance report at the limited assurance level, which, for an LAF, following an additional transition period, will be at the reasonable assurance level;

  • The capitalized costs, expenditures expensed, charges, and losses incurred as a result of severe weather events and other natural conditions, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, drought, wildfires, extreme temperatures, and sea level rise, subject to applicable one percent and de minimis disclosure thresholds, disclosed in a note to the financial statements;

  • The capitalized costs, expenditures expensed, and losses related to carbon offsets and renewable energy credits or certificates (RECs) if used as a material component of a registrant’s plans to achieve its disclosed climate-related targets or goals, disclosed in a note to the financial statements; and

  • If the estimates and assumptions a registrant uses to produce the financial statements were materially impacted by risks and uncertainties associated with severe weather events and other natural conditions or any disclosed climate-related targets or transition plans, a qualitative description of how the development of such estimates and assumptions was impacted, disclosed in a note to the financial statements.

“These final rules build on past requirements by mandating material climate risk disclosures by public companies and in public offerings. The rules will provide investors with consistent, comparable, and decision-useful information, and issuers with clear reporting requirements," commented SEC Chair Gensler. "Further, they will provide specificity on what companies must disclose, which will produce more useful information than what investors see today. They will also require that climate risk disclosures be included in a company’s SEC filings, such as annual reports and registration statements rather than on company websites, which will help make them more reliable.”

This finalized ruling was softer than that proposed in 2022, which would have required all public companies to disclose their direct emissions, and also made some companies report emissions from their supply chains and the use of their products," according to an article by The Hill.

Instead, in an effort to lighten the burden for companies, the SEC will only make large and midsize companies report their emissions that come from generating the electricity a company uses. They’ll have to report emissions for their fiscal years that start in 2026 and 2028, respectively.

The SEC also dropped a provision that would have required companies to report emissions from products they sell, which would have made oil companies, for example, responsible for reporting carbon emitted when their product is burned, The Hill article stated.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like