Chamber of Commerce Releases Survey on ESG Practices, Reporting

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness in partnership with Nasdaq and other industry groups released results from a climate change/environmental, social, and governance (ESG) survey. More than 430 companies participated in the survey, which was conducted to learn more about current practices and the outlook for climate change and ESG reporting from the public company perspective and to ultimately inform policymakers as they consider the impacts new mandates would have on public companies and their shareholders.  The findings show that most companies are regularly communicating with their shareholders and disclosing more information regarding the evolving risks of climate change. Since the SEC issued its 2010 guidance on climate change disclosure, 59% of companies said they are disclosing more information regarding climate change. When it comes to shareholder communication, nearly two-thirds (63%) of companies are communicating with their shareholders regarding the evolving risk of climate change and 46% have increased the level of detail in climate change reporting due to shareholder input. The survey also finds companies overwhelmingly support (89%) scaling disclosure for companies based upon size and/or type of registrant, and 74% support phasing in any new disclosure requirements for all public companies. An overwhelming majority (84%) of companies support a flexible approach to disclosure and agree that any climate change disclosure rules adopted by the SEC should reflect the difference between various industries.  The full survey can be found here. Meanwhile, lawyers at Ropes and Gray in a blog post discuss the laws several states have adopted to implement ESG regulatory frameworks for their pension systems as well as the DOL’s ESG guidance.  The Ropes lawyers note that the state law landscape is rapidly evolving and sometimes contradictory. “Some states seek to restrict their pension funds from investing in these sectors, while other states seek to penalize managers that exclude investments in or discriminate against these sectors.” The lawyers advise that the state laws “create challenges for managers to navigate in their ESG policies, marketing, funds and managed accounts.”