Companies will need to reveal detailed information about their greenhouse gas pollution under a new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission plan, marking a major shift in how corporations must show they are dealing with climate change.
For the first time ever, the agency plans to require businesses to outline the risks a warming planet poses to their operations when they file registration statements, annual reports or other documents.
Some large companies will have to provide information on emissions they don’t make themselves, but come from other firms in their supply chain.
The proposal, which the watchdog is considering on Monday, sets up a major clash with industry lobbyists and Republican politicians who argue the regulations are outside the SEC’s jurisdiction.
Liberal lawmakers, environmental advocates and the SEC, however, say mom-and-pop investors need the information to make informed decisions.
“Over the generations, the SEC has stepped in when there’s significant need for the disclosure of information relevant to investors’ decisions,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement. “Today’s proposal would help issuers more efficiently and effectively disclose these risks.”
The SEC would also require auditors or other experts to review the climate disclosures, which would be phased-in over time.