SEC removes emissions requirements from climate rules draft

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Ahead of plans to adopt the updated regulations, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has edited out some of its stricter emissions requirements from corporate climate risk rules.

The SEC has removed a requirement for companies listed in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to disclose their Scope 3 emissions, according to people who asked to remain anonymous in statements to Reuters last week. The disclosure requirement was included with the SEC’s initial draft of the corporate climate risk rules, which were published in March 2022.

Scope 3 emissions refer to greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, which are released into the atmosphere through the supply chains of many companies, as well as the use of the products by consumers. According to the consulting firm Deloitte, Scope 3 emissions comprise over 70 percent of the carbon footprint for most businesses.

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If the new draft of the rules is adopted, it would effectively shift the course of U.S. companies from previously enacted European Union (EU) rules, which have mandated the use of Scope 3 emissions disclosures for large companies starting this year.

Since originally being proposed by the SEC, many companies have lobbied for softening the emissions reporting rules, and adoption of the re-worked requirements would be considered a win for corporations and trade groups that have opposed disclosure mandates. Many of these groups argue that the data is difficult to compile and is controversial from a legal standpoint.

A spokesperson from the SEC noted that the U.S. agency was considering the updated rules following public feedback it has received, though they declined to comment on what was included in the latest draft. It’s also not clear if rules surrounding the disclosure of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are still included in the newest draft.

“The Commission moves to adopt rules only when the staff and the Commission think they are ready to be considered,” the spokesperson said.

If the new rules are not adopted, and instead the SEC adopts its original rules, it would require publicly traded businesses to share the Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other climate-related risks that could impact the companies.

Upon finalizing a completed draft, the SEC will bring the proposed requirements before its five commissioners for a vote. Reuters says it’s not clear yet when the regulator plans to hold a vote, and it’s also possible that it could face additional revisions before then.

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SEC removes emissions requirements from climate rules draft
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