ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) recently published a proposed voluntary standard entitled “Financial Disclosures Attributed to Climate Change,” intended to provide guidance on when public company disclosure of climate change matters is required. While the standard itself isn’t available via the Internet, a summary is available from the Brattle Group, which helped craft the standard, and we have a copy of the ASTM proposal if you’re interested. There have been numerous discussions on the proposal over the last year (see, for example, Global Reporting Initiative and Carbon Disclosure Project materials), including last year’s detailed petition to the SEC by a coalition of environmental groups and investment funds. It remains to be seen to what extent companies will modify their disclosures if the proposal is adopted as written. Generally speaking, public disclosure is backward looking and conservative, and therefore currently includes only those items that are substantive and measurable, such as lawsuits, new environmental regulation, and capital expenditures. That being said, environmental groups, both on the disclosure front and the proxy proposals front, and the New York Attorney General, continue to voice their thoughts on this concept.
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