SEC Issues Ground-Breaking Guidance Requiring Corporate Disclosure of Material Climate Change Risks and Opportunities

Submitted by Charles Frost on Fri, 01/29/2010 - 16:59.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 27, 2010) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today issued new interpretive guidance that clarifies what publicly-traded companies need to disclose to investors in terms of climate-related 'material' effects on business operations, whether from new emissions management policies, the physical impacts of changing weather or business opportunities associated with the growing clean energy economy.

The guidance, the first economy-wide climate risk disclosure requirement in the world, was approved in a formal vote at today's SEC Commissioners meeting in Washington. The lack of specific guidance until now has resulted in weak and inconsistent climate-related disclosure by public companies.

Today's decision comes after formal requests by leading investors for the SEC to require full corporate disclosure of wide-ranging climate-related business impacts – and strategies for addressing those impacts – in their financial filings. More than a dozen investors managing over $1 trillion in assets, plus Ceres and the Environmental Defense Fund, requested formal guidance in a petition filed with the Commission in 2007, and supported by supplemental petitions filed in 2008 and 2009.

Investors hailed today's new guidance and said it goes a long way to meeting disclosure needs outlined in their petition.

"We're glad the SEC is stepping up to the plate to protect investors," said Anne Stausboll, chief executive officer of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the nation's largest public pension fund with more than $205 billion in assets under management. "Ensuring that investors are getting timely, material information on climate-related impacts, including regulatory and physical impacts, is absolutely essential. Investors have a fundamental right to know which companies are well positioned for the future and which are not."

The rest is at: http://www.edf.org/pressrelease.cfm?contentID=10753

...and there was an article in the business section of the New York Thymes too: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/business/28sec.html

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