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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

S&P Launches Forward-Looking ESG Benchmark

On April 12, 2019, S&P Global Ratings (S&P) announced the launch of “ESG Evaluation,” a new benchmark designed to evaluate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. The new benchmark is separate from S&P’s credit ratings and is an aggregate of two components: a quantitative data-driven assessment of a company’s current ESG performance and a qualitative review of how a company is prepared to mitigate future ESG risks and take advantage of opportunities following discussions with the company’s senior management and board of directors.

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The Sustainability Report Heard Round the World?

On March 9, 2018, UBS filed a Form 6-K with the SEC enclosing its EU-required corporate sustainability report. This filing marks a significant moment in the rapidly changing world of environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) disclosures as it effectively declares climate and sustainability reporting to be material. As we have noted previously, increasing investor demands for information on ESG topics, including climate change, has rapidly blurred the line between financial and non-financial disclosures.

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SEC Staff Permits “Micro-Management” Argument to Exclude Climate Change Proposals

During the 2018 proxy season, the SEC has been taking a more nuanced, company-friendly approach to certain climate change and environmental protection shareholder proposals. Specifically, the Commission recently concurred with the exclusion of several climate change shareholder proposals on the grounds that they sought to “micro-manage” the company under the “ordinary business” exception to Rule 14a-8.

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State Street Issues New Recommendations for Enhanced Climate-Related Disclosures

On August 14, 2017, State Street Global Advisors, the world’s third largest asset manager, holding over $2.4 trillion in assets under management, issued new climate change disclosure guidance targeting U.S. and international public companies primarily in the oil and gas, utilities and mining sectors. This new guidance, entitled Perspectives on Effective Climate Change Disclosure, identifies “best practices” in climate-related disclosure and prescribes detailed disclosure methods in areas it deems pertinent to investors for evaluating whether “a company’s assets and long-term business strategy are resilient to the impacts of climate change.” In particular, State Street’s guidance emphasizes disclosure of climate change scenario planning and its impact on long-term strategy, which will carry significant business and strategic implications for U.S. public companies in these targeted sectors. 

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