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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

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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ExxonMobil Releases Climate Change Report, Following Similar Reports by Chevron, Shell, and Others

In response to a shareholder proposal that received a majority vote in 2017, ExxonMobil released Energy & Carbon Summary: Positioning for a Lower-Carbon Energy Future, a report outlining the potential impacts of climate change on ExxonMobil’s business through 2040.

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The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Seeks to Revamp Climate Change Disclosures Worldwide

Investors and lenders are beginning to publicly urge companies from a wide variety of industries to implement the June 2017 Final Recommendations of the G20 Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and account for climate-related risks and opportunities in their public financial filings. The TCFD’s recommendations are a voluntary disclosure framework, but shareholders, non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”), and others are pushing for their widespread adoption. The energy industry will certainly be a focus as the TCFD looks to implement its recommendations, and the recommendations themselves include a note that the group will promulgate additional, sector-specific guidance for the energy industry at a later time. This post provides a step-by-step analysis of the TCFD’s recommendations and how these recommendations incorporate but also move far beyond any current voluntary climate disclosure program. Energy companies should be aware of the full extent of what the TCFD is requesting as they consider their overall policies and strategy on climate change.

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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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Contributors

Margaret E. Peloso

Margaret E. Peloso Partner

Eric Groten

Eric Groten Partner

George C. Hopkins

George C. Hopkins Partner

Michael B. Wigmore

Michael B. Wigmore Partner

Mattew T. Dobbins

Matthew Dobbins Senior Associate

Tyler E. Robinson

Tyler E. Robinson Senior Associate

Theresa Romanosky

Theresa Romanosky Senior Associate

Brandon M. Tuck

Brandon M. Tuck Senior Associate