SEC Acting Chair Directs Staff to Enhance Focus on Climate-Related Disclosure

On February 24, 2021, Acting Chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Allison Herren Lee, announced that the agency will be focusing 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 stated that she has directed the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance “to enhance its focus on climate-related disclosure in public company filings.” Further, SEC staff will increase its attention on how public companies follow the SEC’s 2010 published interpretive guidance on climate change disclosures (the “2010 Climate Change Release” or the “Release”) and whether companies’ disclosures comply with the federal securities laws. Signaling that the SEC is preparing a broad reform of its disclosure rules, Acting Chair Lee also stated that the staff will use the results of these assessments to begin to update the 2010 Climate Change Release and prepare “a more comprehensive framework that produces consistent, comparable, and reliable climate-related disclosures.” Acting Chair Lee’s announcement follows her recent hiring of a new Acting Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and a Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and ESG.

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