Investors are increasingly applying ESG factors as part of their analysis process when determining a company’s long-term success. Consequently, the SEC has increased its focus on public company disclosures regarding ESG. Public companies and their counsel must now consider ESG ratings in corporate decision-making while ensuring that any public disclosures relating to ESG pass muster with regulators.
Companies today must address a proliferation of ESG assessments issued by organizations such as SASB, GRI, and TCFD. Commercial ESG rating services such as ISS, ThomsonReuters, Moody’s, and Morningstar provide ESG ratings, and investment professionals rely heavily on these services. Each has its scoring protocol, resulting in varying ESG ratings for the same company.
The SEC’s March 2022 proposed climate disclosure rules are meant to provide shareholders, investment advisers, and investment management companies with more reliable information about the climate-related risks of each public company.
In April 2022, the SEC’s Division of Examinations indicated that ESG would be its second examination priority. There is an increase in the number of ESG-related litigation alleging “greenwashing”–plaintiffs allege that companies misrepresented their environmental practices, achievements, and commitments.
Listen as Thomas Barnard discusses the emergence of ESG as a significant factor in investor decisions and the planning and disclosure implications for public companies.
- Introduction to ESG
- Evaluating ESG performance
- Assessment standards
- Rating platforms
- Navigating the various scoring approaches
- Regulatory developments
- SEC Division of Examination’s current focus on ESG disclosures
- SEC March 2022 proposed climate disclosure rules: current status
- Actions public companies and asset managers should now take
Thomas H. Barnard, Esq.