Proposed SEC Climate Rules Have Sparked a Fight over Indirect Emissions

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The SEC unveiled a 510-page rulebook that, if finalized, would force companies to provide investors with more information to help them better account for the economic realities of a warming world.

The Securities and Exchange Commission broke new ground yesterday when it unveiled a 510-page rulebook that, if finalized, would force companies to provide investors with more information to help them better account for the economic realities of a warming world.

“Scope 3 disclosures are often vitally important to understanding a company’s overall greenhouse gas emissions and therefore overall climate-related risks,” SEC Commissioner Allison Herren Lee, one of the leading proponents of this effort, said in a statement yesterday. The proposal said all public companies—regardless of size—would, in the coming years, be required to report their direct greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the carbon output associated with their purchased electricity. Those are also known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and under the rule they would be subject to review by third-party groups, including auditors.

He pointed to the SEC’s existing climate disclosure guidance, which hasn’t been updated since 2010 and calls on companies to voluntarily report their climate-related risks, so long as they are financially material. “As a result, the SEC should proceed in a more measured and considered manner in terms of requirements for what must be included in financial filings,” Lauren Anderson, BPI’s senior vice president and associate general counsel, said in a statement.


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