Jun 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Powerful interests look to influence new climate disclosure rules

Exterior view of the New York Stock Exchange and Wall St.

Photo: Kena Betancur/VIEWpress

Financial regulators are getting an earful from powerful interests looking to influence new federal climate disclosure requirements.

Why it matters: Interest from Wall Street, K Street, Congress and beyond signals the topic's growing salience within the Biden administration.

Driving the news: The comment period just closed on the Securities and Exchange Commission's call for preliminary input on how companies should disclose climate-relevant information. Here are a few viewpoints...

  • Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz and Sheldon Whitehouse call for detailed banking industry reporting. They say disclosure of "financed emissions" — that is, business with fossil fuel companies — should include "off-balance sheet activities like equity and debt underwriting, as well as advisory work."
  • The American Petroleum Institute cautions against an overly expansive definition of "material" disclosures. It also urges consideration of compliance costs to small- and mid-sized companies, and it says the SEC should provide liability protections typically afforded to businesses' forward-looking statements.
  • The National Association of Manufacturers says reporting requirements should focus on metrics that are "financially material to the investors in a specific business."
  • Asset manager BlackRock says the SEC should take its cues from existing efforts like the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. It also says reporting on emissions from the use of companies' products in the economy (called "Scope 3") and certain other quantitative disclosures "may require a phased approach."
  • Friends of the Earth, Amazon Watch and the Rainforest Action Network, in joint comments, urge the SEC requirements to cover "risks associated with deforestation and unsustainable land use."

Zoom in: Check out many filings on this page. It also lists SEC staff meetings with parties like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Shell, JPMorgan Chase and more.

What's next: The SEC plans to begin formal rule-making later this year.

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