On October 7, 2023, California Governor Newsom signed two landmark bills into law, Senate Bill (SB) 253 and SB-261, imposing new requirements on large companies doing business in California to publicly report their annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate-related risks. These laws apply to both publicly traded and privately held companies, exceeding the scope of the climate disclosure rule proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March 2022. Our professionals have prepared a more detailed summary here; some key highlights are included below.Continue Reading California Adopts Landmark GHG Emissions and Climate Risk Reporting Laws
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) published proposed rules on March 21 that, for the first time, would codify the Commission’s expectations regarding what kinds of climate-related disclosures public companies must make in their required filings to the SEC. Prior to now, companies have had to rely on 2010 guidance from the Commission to determine what information they should disclose to investors regarding their climate-related risks.
Continue Reading SEC Publishes Proposed Rule Requiring Climate Disclosures
The financial world appears to be reeling from the recent board of director election held by Exxon Mobil Corp. (Exxon) in which activist Hedge Fund Engine 1 (Engine 1) garnered enough votes to seat two directors (Kaisa Hietala and Gregory Goff), and potentially more, as the vote count continues. In the grand scheme of things, eight of Exxon’s nominees, including CEO Darren Woods, were re-elected to the 12-member board, and yet still, Engine 1 placing directors while sporting $50 million in holdings among over a $250 billion market cap for Exxon is worthy of note. The efforts of Engine 1 were aided by other large shareholders, such as BlackRock, Inc., Exxon’s second largest shareholder. The debate around the dissident directors centered on climate change issues.
Continue Reading Exxon Mobil Corp. Board Turnover: A Cautionary ESG Tale or Recipe for Success
On the heels of multiple recent indications that it plans to increase its focus on environmental, social, and governance-related (ESG) corporate disclosures, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) has solicited help from the public on developing a framework for climate change disclosures. Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee released a statement on March 15, calling for input from investors, registrants, and other market participants “in light of demand for climate change information and questions about whether current disclosures accurately inform investors.”
Continue Reading SEC Seeks Public Comment on Framework for Corporate Climate Change Disclosures
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the creation of a new task force on March 4 to address violations of environmental, social, and governance-related (ESG) disclosure requirements. The Climate and ESG Task Force will be located in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement and led by Acting Deputy Director of Enforcement Kelly Gibson, who will oversee a 22-member team drawn from across the SEC. The task force will focus initially on material gaps or misstatements in disclosure of climate risk under existing rules. The task force will use “sophisticated data analysis to mine and assess information … to identify potential violations” and will also pursue tips, referrals, and whistleblower complaints on ESG-related issues.
Continue Reading SEC Announces Task Force to Enforce ESG Disclosure Requirements
A California state legislator has introduced a bill that would require large corporations doing business in the state to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). The bill, titled the Climate Corporate Responsibility Act, covers publicly traded domestic and foreign corporations with annual revenues in excess of $1 billion. According to state Senator Scott Weiner, who introduced the bill, it could affect up to 5,000 companies. The bill is not limited to any industry sector and would thus impact not only companies typically associated with GHG emissions, like oil and gas producers or power plants, but also would extend to other sectors, including the tech industry, for example.
Continue Reading Mandatory GHG Corporate Disclosure Bill Introduced in California