March 12, 2024

Highlights of the SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule

ESG Advisory

3

Minutes to read

In an unprecedented move on March 6, 2024, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a climate disclosure rule, marking a significant milestone for the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) landscape in the United States.

While the final rule deviates from its initial proposal, it’s a massive step toward enhanced transparency and accountability for U.S. listed companies regarding their environmental impact and climate risk management strategies.

Highlights of the Climate Disclosure Rule

Scope 1 and 2 GHG Emissions Reporting

Companies must report direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2) greenhouse gas emissions if deemed materially significant. This emphasizes emissions directly influenced by the company, streamlining the reporting process while ensuring relevance and materiality.

Disclosure of Material Climate Risks and Strategies

Companies must now disclose climate-related risks that are "reasonably likely to have a material impact" on their financial performance, operations, or strategy, and outline their mitigation strategies.

Materiality Defined

The rule specifies materiality as issues "reasonably likely to have a material impact on the registrant’s business strategy, results of operations, or financial condition," highlighting the importance of relevance in disclosures to investor decision-making.

Governance and Risk Management

The rule mandates transparent reporting on how companies govern and manage climate-related risks and opportunities, highlighting the role of the board and management in overseeing climate issues.

This requirement aims to ensure that companies have robust structures in place to identify, assess, and manage climate-related risks, thereby enhancing investor confidence in their resilience to emerging climate challenges.

Third-Party Assurance

The inclusion of third-party assurance requirements for GHG emissions data seeks to bolster the reliability and veracity of the disclosures, ensuring that reported emissions are accurately represented and verified.

Scenario Analysis

Companies are encouraged to conduct scenario analysis to evaluate the resilience of their business strategies under various climate-related scenarios. This provision emphasizes the importance of forward-looking assessments in understanding potential climate impacts on business operations and financial planning.

Scenario analysis helps investors gauge a company's preparedness for different climate futures, providing valuable insights into strategic adaptability and long-term viability.

Electronic Tagging with Inline XBRL

To facilitate better accessibility and analysis, disclosures must be electronically tagged using Inline XBRL, enhancing data usability for investors and stakeholders.

What’s Next?

Phased Implementation

The rule introduces a staggered compliance timeline based on filer status, with Large Accelerated Filers (LAFs) leading the way. Compliance requirements span from 2026 to 2028 for initial disclosures, depending on the company’s filer status.

What Does This Mean?

Impact on Financial Statements

The rule mandates clear disclosure of how climate-related risks affect financial statements, offering investors a transparent view of potential financial impacts due to climate risks.

Investor-Focused Reporting

By mandating standardized and reliable ESG disclosures, the SEC aligns closely with investor demands for actionable, transparent data on climate risks, facilitating informed investment decisions in an evolving market landscape.

The SEC's climate disclosure rule represents a watershed moment in corporate reporting, signaling a shift toward greater emphasis on sustainability and climate risk management in financial disclosures.

As companies and investors navigate this new regulatory environment, the rule's comprehensive approach to materiality, phased implementation, and enhanced reporting requirements will likely serve as a blueprint for future ESG-related disclosures.

Ready to implement the SEC's Climate Disclosure rule?

Navigating the SEC's new climate disclosure rule requires a strategic approach. Start preparing with a tailored plan or roadmap to ensure compliance and showcase your company's commitment to sustainability.

Our ESG Advisory team can guide you through every step of the process, from understanding the nuances of the rule to determining materiality and implementing effective reporting mechanisms.

Don't wait until the deadlines approach — get ahead with our expert consultation and support.

Contact our ESG experts today!

Update - 04/04/24: The SEC announced the pause of the climate disclosure rule, amid legal challenges.

Mike York
Senior Manager
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