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Voluntary Climate Disclosures Show That SEC Rule Is Redundant

An aggressive climate-disclosure rule proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t yet become law, but many companies are already adopting climate-disclosure practices and methodologies, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

  • Companies’ efforts to adopt climate strategies appropriate for their businesses, as well as the evolving methodologies for such reporting, are clear indications that the SEC’s costly and overly restrictive climate-reporting mandate is not necessary, said NAM Senior Director of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Charles Crain.

What’s going on: “The Securities and Exchange Commission’s rule—which would require public companies to report climate-related risks and emissions data, including so-called Scope 3 emissions that come from a company’s supply chain—is expected to be brought in soon. … [But] [s]ome businesses have for years pursued carbon-related goals without the government forcing their hand,” according to the Journal.

  • Manufacturers have led the move toward sustainability, with many having already begun to track and curb their emissions and work with their suppliers to do the same.

Why it’s important: “[G]roups from private manufacturers to egg farmers have balked at the cost and complexity of complying with a Scope 3 mandate from the SEC. The regulator has estimated its plan will raise the cost to businesses of complying with its overall disclosure rules to $10.2 billion from $3.9 billion, an additional cost of about $530,000 a year for a bigger business.”

  • Manufacturers have urged the SEC to drop the Scope 3 reporting mandate. Some say it unfairly “creates a risk of double counting, because the supply-chain emissions of one company are the in-house emissions of another,” according to the Journal.
  • While SEC Chair Gary Gensler told the House Committee on Financial Services earlier this month that the rule is not intended to burden private companies, “[m]andatory Scope 3 reporting would represent a costly, uncertain and ultimately infeasible standard for public issuers as well as the small and privately held businesses within their supply chains,” NAM Managing Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram told the same committee.

The last word: “Manufacturers [are] leaders in combatting climate change and making the necessary disclosures about this important work,” said Crain.

  • “The SEC’s attempt to mandate a top-down, uniform approach to this evolving field would dramatically increase costs and legal liability for manufacturers—without improving information availability for investors or helping companies achieve their sustainability goals.”                          
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