Securities and Exchange Commission Publishes Its Interpretive Release on Climate Change Related Disclosures

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In early February, the Securities and Exchange Commission published an interpretive release (Release Nos. 33-9106 and 34-61469) about public company disclosures related to climate change. The Commission has previously stated that it is not making new law, nor is it taking a position on any aspect of the debate concerning climate change. Instead, the release summarizes the current state of that debate, reminds companies of the existing regulatory scheme requiring disclosures concerning environmental and climate matters, and then — in what is clearly the most helpful part of this fairly short release — enumerates and describes the kinds of disclosures that the Commission believes would be, and should be, captured by the current regulatory system. Despite the Commission's protests about the "neutral" nature of the release, it was approved by a 3 to 2 vote of the Commissioners and engendered controversy about whether it was, in fact, a political statement issued in response to political pressures.

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