Feb 2

Top U.S. securities regulator to review climate and proxy rules

Mar 15, 2021
(Reuters) – The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday the agency will seek input on what companies might report about greenhouse gas emissions and other climate factors, and revisit controversial rules on proxy voting.
The steps and other actions outlined by the acting SEC chair, Allison Herren Lee, fill out some details of how the regulator will review topics taking on increasing importance for investors.
Lee said that climate and other environmental, social and governance factors are “front and center for the SEC” as investors have “embraced sustainability factors and metrics as significant drivers in decision-making, capital allocation, and pricing.”
Flows into sustainable funds reached a record high of $51 billion last year as retail investors paid more attention to policy issues once seen as concerns for government, not business.
Lee and other SEC officials had already said they would review various aspects of companies’ sustainability reporting, as has President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the agency, Gary Gensler, who awaits Senate approval.
On Monday, Lee said the agency will now take public comments on what sorts of climate data and metrics investors would like to see. Questions include whether the SEC should collect industry-specific data and how the SEC might build on existing voluntary ESG reporting frameworks, she said in a separate statement on the SEC’s website.
Lee also said the SEC would look at proxy voting rules including revisiting guidance from 2019 that could discourage some investment advisers from voting proxies, and will look at providing more details around its decisions on how proposals reach corporate ballots.
Shareholder proposals on climate change have drawn more support from top fund investors in recent years and prodded changes like new emissions reporting by big energy producers.
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