Get Ready for the SEC's New Disclosure Regulations

Get ready for the SEC's new disclosure regulations. Explore how ESG reporting, ESG reports, AI and ESG, and ESG software can help your business comply and thrive.
Chiara Meacci
December 4, 2023

ESG Flo is the ESG compliance platform with an AI-powered backend to automate the collection and transformation of data into audit-ready metrics.

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In response to the increasing concerns over the environmental and social impact of businesses, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is taking a stand and demanding greater transparency and accountability by introducing a new wave of environmental disclosure regulations for publicly traded companies. The proposed rules, unveiled last March, aim to improve transparency for investors and expand the requirements for corporate disclosure of financial risk to include the potential impact of climate-related risks on companies' financial outlooks and business models.

This should come as a wake-up call for all companies interested in sustainability, for these new rules could significantly impact business operations. These regulations represent a major shift in how companies approach their sustainability efforts, so be ready to adapt and embrace this change.

What will the impact of these new regulations be?

These new regulations aim to hold companies accountable for their environmental practices and ensure they are open and honest with investors and stakeholders. Companies will have to open the books on their carbon emissions, water usage, waste disposal methods, and resource conservation efforts, among other things.

This presents both a challenge and an opportunity. It could mean a major overhaul of how data is collected and reported. They'll need to collect and report accurate data about their environmental practices, which will require reliable processes for data collection across the organization. Moreover, they'll need to ensure that all disclosures are up to date, which can be time-consuming and costly if not handled carefully.

The silver lining is that companies have time to prepare before these regulations take effect. Although the exact timeline hasn't been determined yet, companies can use this time to assess how the regulations will impact their operations and implement steps to ensure they're ready. This is a chance for manufacturers to stay ahead of the curve and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability to investors and other stakeholders.

The first step in preparing for the impending SEC environmental disclosure regulations is to comprehensively understand them.

An in-depth breakdown of the SEC environmental disclosure regulations

Currently, the SEC does not require extensive line-item disclosure of ESG matters. All that may change, however, with the new proposal poised to raise the bar and demand a much higher level of transparency from publicly traded companies.

Up until now, companies have relied on guidelines from 2010 for their ESG disclosures based on the concept of "materiality." This principle, established by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1976 case TSC Industries, Inc. v. Northway, Inc., gives companies a good deal of leeway in deciding what qualifies as relevant climate-related disclosures. Besides the mandatory ESG reporting requirements that stem from the materiality standard, companies generally make any additional ESG disclosures through optional channels such as sustainability reports. This is all set to become a thing of the past once these new regulations are finalized.

Gone are the days of relying solely on materiality as the standard, as the new rule would require companies to delve into the nitty-gritty details of their climate risks. Public companies must clearly outline risks that equate to 1% or more of a total line item in their financial statements. However, this level of detail comes with a price - it will require significant internal resources, time, and effort to produce. If not handled with care, this could lead to inconsistent information in public filings like the 10-K and annual reports, causing confusion among investors and exposing organizations to legal risks.

Another significant aspect of these proposed regulations is the need for large companies to not only be transparent about their greenhouse gas emissions but to have them independently verified as well. This covers emissions they generate themselves (scope 1) and emissions they purchase (scope 2). However, the real challenge lies in disclosing and understanding their indirect emissions - scope 3 emissions - that result from their entire supply chain, from the extraction of raw materials to the end use of the products they sell. While these disclosures will only be required if deemed "material," they won't need third-party verification and will be protected from legal liabilities.

The proposal also increases the accountability of companies that have issued emission targets and climate plans by requiring them to clearly outline their plans for reaching those targets and provide a timeline for doing so. This increased accountability will help keep these companies on track and give stakeholders a better understanding of their efforts to combat climate change.

The proposed regulations are set to bring about a transformative shift in climate risk reporting. With standardized and credible reporting, stakeholders across the board, from regulators to investors, will finally have access to the data they need to tackle climate change head-on. Companies should start preparing now so that when the rules come into effect, they can hit the ground running with confidence that their operations meet all necessary standards of transparency and accountability. With careful planning now, manufacturers can maximize the potential benefits of this landmark move towards greater sustainability without having to worry about any compliance issues down the line.

Revolutionize the way you manage sustainability data with ESG Flo

Designed specifically for real estate, industrial and manufacturing companies with dispersed footprints and complex operations, ESG Flo is the most advanced solution on the market for automating and optimizing ESG data ingestion.

With ESG Flo, you can directly upload your Scope 1 & 2 emissions and be confident that your data is validated, traceable, and audit-ready. Our cutting-edge technology automatically extracts environmental data from source documents, freeing up your sustainability team to focus on what truly matters – driving impact.

Get ahead of the game and prepare for the SEC's New Disclosure Regulations by choosing ESG Flo. We're already hard at work on Scope 3 and will soon have the ability to ingest this critical data as well. With ESG Flo, you'll be able to achieve your ESG targets, make informed cost, risk, and compliance decisions, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your data is accurate and secure.

Get in touch with us today and book a demo!

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