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The Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) is adopting amendments to its rules under the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) and Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) that will require registrants to provide certain climate-related information in their registration statements and annual reports. The final rules will require information about a registrant's climate-related risks that have materially impacted, or are reasonably likely to have a material impact on, its business strategy, results of operations, or financial condition. In addition, under the final rules, certain disclosures related to severe weather events and other natural conditions will be required in a registrant's audited financial statements. These final rules are effective on May 28, 2024.

Climate-related risks, their impacts, and a public company's response to those risks can significantly affect the company's financial performance and position. Accordingly, many investors and those acting on their behalf—including investment advisers and investment management companies—currently seek information to assess how climate-related risks affect a registrant's business and financial condition and thus the price of the registrant's securities. Investors also seek climate-related information to assess a registrant's management and board oversight of climate-related risks so as to inform their investment and voting decisions. In light of these investor needs, the Commission is adopting rules to require registrants to provide certain information about climate-related risks that have materially impacted, or are reasonably likely to have a material impact on, the registrant's business strategy, results of operations, or financial condition; the governance and management of such risks; and the financial statement effects of severe weather events and other natural conditions in their registration statements and annual reports. This information, alongside disclosures on other risks that companies face, will assist investors in making decisions to buy, hold, sell, or vote securities in their portfolio.

Many companies currently provide some information regarding climate-related risks. For example, as discussed in more detail in section IV.A.5 below, some studies show that a third of public companies disclose information about climate-related risks, mostly outside of Commission filings, and nearly 40 percent of all annual reports contain some climate-related discussion. In addition, Commission staff analysis found that approximately 20 percent of public companies provide some information regarding their Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, often outside of Commission filings, with the highest rate of emissions disclosures found among large accelerated filers. Among companies in the Russell 1000 Index, based on one analysis, these numbers are even higher, with 90 percent publicly disclosing some climate-related information and almost 60 percent providing disclosures regarding their GHG emissions.

The climate-related information that these companies currently provide, however, is inconsistent and often difficult for investors to find and/or compare across companies. As a result, investors have expressed the need for more detailed, reliable, and comparable disclosure of information regarding climate-related risks. The requirements adopted in this release meet that need by providing more complete and decision-useful information about the impacts of climate-related risks on registrants, improving the consistency, comparability, and reliability of climate-related information for investors. As a result, investors will be able to make more informed investment and voting decisions.

As discussed in more detail throughout this release, disclosure of certain climate-related matters is required in a number of Federal, State, and foreign jurisdictions. Companies currently often provide much of this information outside of Commission filings, in varying levels of detail, and in different documents and formats. Additionally, because of the importance of this information to investors, a variety of third parties have developed climate-related reporting frameworks. Use of reporting frameworks is also often voluntary. Companies may disclose certain information under one or more frameworks, may provide only partial disclosures, or may choose not to provide consistent information year over year. As a result, reporting is fragmented and difficult for investors to compare across companies or across reporting periods. As commenters have indicated, this lack of consistency and comparability increases costs to investors in obtaining and analyzing decision-useful information and impairs investors' ability to make investment or voting decisions in line with their risk preferences. Investors have asked for this information in Commission filings, alongside other disclosures on the business, results of operations, and financial condition of a registrant and information on the other risks companies face to their business, finances, and operations. Requiring these additional disclosures in Commission filings will allow investors to evaluate together the range of risks that a company faces, the existing and potential impacts of those risks, and the way that company management assesses and addresses those risks. Providing these disclosures in Commission filings also will subject them to enhanced liability that provides important investor protections by promoting the reliability of the disclosures.

The Commission has required disclosure of certain environmental matters for the past 50 years, most recently issuing guidance in 2010 (“2010 Guidance”) on how existing rules may require disclosure of climate-related risks and their impacts on a registrant's business or financial condition. Since the Commission issued the 2010 Guidance, there has been growing recognition that climate-related risks affect public companies' business, results of operations, and financial condition. Our experience with the 2010 Guidance and current practices regarding disclosure of this information led us to conclude that, although many companies disclose some climate-related information, there was a need to both standardize and enhance the information available to investors about such matters and thus to propose an updated approach. Since the proposal, ongoing regulatory developments and market practices with respect to disclosure of climate-related risks have only underscored the need for enhanced disclosure requirements in this area. Although current disclosure practices elicit some useful information about climate-related risks, there remain significant deficiencies in the consistency and completeness of this information. We have therefore concluded that additional requirements are appropriate to ensure that investors have access to more complete and reliable information that will enable them to make informed investment and voting decisions.

The rules that we are adopting respond to investors' concerns regarding the adequacy of current disclosure practices while taking into account comments received on the proposed rules. In general terms, the final rules will elicit enhanced and more consistent and comparable disclosure about the material risks that companies face and how companies manage those risks by requiring:

-- A description of any climate-related risks that have materially impacted or are reasonably likely to have a material impact on the registrant, including on its strategy, results of operations, and financial condition, as well as the actual or potential material impacts of those same risks on its strategy, business model, and outlook;
-- Specified disclosures, regarding a registrant's activities, if any, to mitigate or adapt to a material climate-related risk or use of transition plans, scenario analysis or internal carbon prices to manage a material climate-related risk;
-- Disclosure about any oversight by the registrant's board of directors of climate-related risks and any role by management in assessing and managing material climate-related risks;
-- A description of any processes the registrant uses to assess or manage material climate-related risks; and
-- Disclosure about any targets or goals that have materially affected or are reasonably likely to materially affect the registrant's business, results of operations, or financial condition.

In addition, to facilitate investors' assessment of particular types of risk, the final rules require:

-- Disclosure of Scope 1 and/or Scope 2 emissions on a phased in basis by certain larger registrants when those emissions are material, and the filing of an attestation report covering the required disclosure of such registrants' Scope 1 and/or Scope 2 emissions, also on a phased in basis; and
-- Disclosure of the financial statement effects of severe weather events and other natural conditions including costs and losses.

A further summary of the final rules is presented below. . . .

SEC: https://www.sec.gov/rules/2022/03/enhancement-and-standardization-climate-related-disclosures-investors
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-05137 [254 pages]

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