March 4, 2021
Authored by: Katherine Ashton and Vicki Westerhaus
SEC Commissioners: Are Recent Announcements Changes from Status Quo or New PR Twist?
SEC Commissioners Hester M. Peirce and Elad L. Roisman today issued a statement providing their perspectives on the recent wave of climate-related announcements by the Divisions of Enforcement, Examinations and Corporation Finance. Emphasizing that in their view the recent announcements raise more questions than they answer, the commissioners note their impact is not yet clear and query whether the announcements “represent a change from current Commission practices or a continuation of the status quo with a new public relations twist.” Recent SEC ESG developments include:
- On March 4, 2021, the SEC announced the creation of a Climate and ESG Task Force in the Division of Enforcement to, among other things, develop initiatives to proactively identify ESG-related misconduct.
- On March 3, 2021, the SEC’s Division of Examinations announced its 2021 examination priorities, which include a greater focus on climate-related risks.
- On March 2, 2021, Gary Gensler, President Biden’s nominee to serve as SEC Chair, noted in a Senate confirmation hearing that investors increasingly want to see climate risk disclosures. He indicated that, if confirmed, he would support the SEC’s focus on more climate-related disclosures.
- On March 2, 2021, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce announced the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act which, if adopted as proposed, would direct the SEC to adopt climate risk disclosure rules within two years.
- On February 24, 2021, Allison Herren Lee,