Climate, ESG Issues are ‘Front and Center’ at SEC

April 2, 2021

In addition to the SEC’s statements and request for public comment on climate change disclosure discussed elsewhere in this edition of The Ticker, several other recent SEC actions and statements make it clear that climate change and other environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are now top priorities for the regulator.

Here’s just a sampling of SEC actions and statements relating to climate change and ESG issues since President Biden took office and designated Allison Herren Lee as Acting Chair on January 21, 2021.

On February 1, 2021, the SEC announced that Satyam Khanna will serve as Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and ESG, a new office within the agency.  “I am thrilled that Satyam is returning to the SEC to oversee and coordinate the agency’s efforts related to climate risk and other ESG developments, issues of great significance to investors and the capital markets,” Ms. Lee stated.

On March 4, 2021, the SEC announced the creation of a Climate and ESG Task Force in the Division of Enforcement.  “Consistent with increasing investor focus and reliance on climate and ESG-related disclosure and investment, the Climate and ESG Task Force will develop initiatives to proactively identify ESG-related misconduct.”

On March 15, 2021, Acting Chair Lee gave a speech before the Center for American Progress in which she stated, in part: “Human capital, human rights, climate change – these issues are fundamental to our markets, and investors want to and can help drive sustainable solutions on these issues. … That’s why climate and ESG are front and center for the SEC.”

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