The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a new page on its website to bring together agency actions and the latest information about climate and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing.
The unveiling of the webpage follows the announcement that the SEC has created a Climate and ESG Task Force in the Division of Enforcement.
Consistent with increasing investor focus and reliance on climate and ESG-related disclosure and investment, the Climate and ESG Task Force will develop initiatives to proactively identify ESG-related misconduct. The task force will also coordinate the effective use of division resources, including through the use of sophisticated data analysis to mine and assess information across registrants, to identify potential violations.
Its initial focus will be to identify any material gaps or misstatements in issuers’ disclosure of climate risks under existing rules.
When the SEC’s Division of Examinations announced its 2021 examination priorities it said they would include a greater focus on climate-related risks.
“The division will continue to review business continuity and disaster recovery plans of firms, but will shift its focus to whether such plans, particularly those of systemically important registrants, are accounting for the growing physical and other relevant risks associated with climate change,” the priorities list says. “As climate-related events become more frequent and more intense, the division will review whether firms are considering effective practices to help improve responses to large-scale events. The division will also review whether registrants have taken appropriate measures to: safeguard customer accounts and prevent account intrusions, including verifying an investor’s identity to prevent unauthorized account access; oversee vendors and service providers; address malicious email activities, such as phishing or account intrusions; respond to incidents, including those related to ransomware attacks; and manage operational risk as a result of dispersed employees in a work-from-home environment.”
The new webpage also includes a statement from SEC Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee in which she directs the Division of Corporation Finance to enhance its focus on climate-related disclosure in public company filings.
In addition, in a request for public comment on climate-related disclosures, Lee says the SEC has decided to evaluate its disclosure rules on climate change. The commission is asking for public input on disclosure rules from investors, registrants and other market participants.
The SEC says the consolidation of agency actions and information on one webpage is in response to investor demand for climate and ESG investing.
“Our all-of-SEC approach looks at how climate and ESG intersect with our broader regulatory framework to get investors the information they need to plan for their financial future,” Lee says.The new webpage may be accessed at https://www.sec.gov/sec-response-climate-and-esg-risks-and-opportunities.