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On June 30, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court decided West Virginia et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, holding that the EPA lacks authority under Section 7411(d) of the Clean Air Act to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants through “generation shifting,” i.e., increasing the use of cleaner energy sources like wind and

On June 23, 2022, the American Bankers Association and 51 state bankers associations released a letter to the federal financial regulators that describes principles the regulators should use when developing guidance and regulations on ESG issues (“Industry Letter”). These principles reflect the industry’s view on how the government can maintain a free-market financial system that also

On June 2, 2022, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) released a request for information on how climate-related financial risk is related to the derivatives markets and underlying commodities markets (the “RFI”). The RFI is intended to inform the CFTC’s next steps in this rapidly developing area and respond to the 2021 Report on Climate-Related

On December 16, 2021, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released draft principles for managing exposures to climate-related financial risks (Climate Principles). The OCC regulates national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations.

The Climate Principles are targeted at banks with

On October 21, 2021, the United States Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) released its 133-page report on Climate-Related Financial Risk (Report) and related Factsheet. The Report discusses how climate-related financial risks can implicate financial stability and declares climate-related finance risk as an emerging threat to financial stability. In a new

On June 21, 2021, US financial regulators met with US President Joe Biden to discuss the US economy and update him on their efforts to address climate-related risks.  According to the White House readout of the meeting, the regulators said “they were making steady progress” on implementing President Biden’s executive order on climate-related risk. The briefing follows last week’s passage of HR 1187, the Corporate Governance Improvement and Investor Protection Act, by the US House of Representatives1 by a vote of 215 to 214. HR 1187 would mandate that the SEC create an ESG disclosure regime for public companies and provides numerous statutory requirements for those disclosures, including climate-related disclosures. Although the bill is unlikely to become law due to expected opposition in the US Senate, which requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation, the passage of the HR 1187 by the House – combined with President Biden’s focus on climate-related risks in his meeting with financial regulators –  should bolster and influence the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) ongoing development of new ESG disclosure requirements for US public companies under its existing statutory authorities. With regulators telling President Biden that they are “making steady progress,” new disclosure requirements for US public companies appear to be just around the corner.

Continue Reading The US Moving Toward Adopting New Climate Disclosures

On Thursday, May 20, 2021, US President Biden signed an Executive Order, entitled “Climate-Related Financial Risk” (Climate Risk EO), that sets the stage for the US federal government, including its financial regulatory agencies, to begin to incorporate climate-risk and other ESG issues into financial regulation. The Climate Risk EO further demonstrates the

On April 14, 2021, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) issued two climate-related reports—one on climate-related risk drivers and their transmission channels and a companion report on measurement methodologies for financial risks. Among the reports’ findings:

  • Banks and the banking system are exposed to climate change through macro- and microeconomic transmission

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of ESG-related announcements coming from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Acting Chair and staff. The most recent press release announced that the SEC has created a Climate and ESG Task Force in the Division of Enforcement:

[T]he 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.
The initial focus will be to identify any material gaps or misstatements in issuers’ disclosure of climate risks under existing rules.  The task force will also analyze disclosure and compliance issues relating to investment advisers’ and funds’ ESG strategies.

SEC registrants may be wondering if these announcements change their legal obligations and what actions they should take in response in order to ensure compliance. We discuss the implications for registrants in this Blog Post.

Continue Reading US SEC Announces the Creation of a Climate and ESG Task Force

On February 24, 2021, Acting Chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Allison Herren Lee, announced that the agency will focus on public companies’ climate change disclosures as part of an effort to both assess current compliance with federal securities laws and develop new disclosure requirements for climate change.

Specifically, she