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Climate risk disclosure recommendations released

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A set of final recommendations for climate-related financial disclosures was released on Thursday.

The Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures — at the request of the G-20 nations — released a set of recommendations to guide companies in assessing the material risks climate change poses to their operations and develop plans to mitigate these risks. The recommendations cover four core elements: governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets. 

“Most large companies recognize the risks climate change poses to their facilities, operations and supply and distribution chains,” Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions in Arlington, Virginia, said in a statement. But reporting these risks varies extensively from company to company and sector to sector. The task force’s voluntary disclosure guidelines will help companies work toward consistency, which over time will help inform stakeholders on climate risks and opportunities. Better financial reporting will inform the long view for companies as they manage the transition to a lower-carbon economy.”

Zurich-based Swiss Re Ltd., a member of the task force, previously said it would adopt the recommendations.

The recommendations are voluntary, but investors have said they would use them to pressure companies that have previously resisted disclosure because of complaints about the lack of a proper disclosure framework. 

“Many companies have been slow to recognize the business opportunities and risks posed by climate change and disclose material risks in their financial filings,” Mindy Lubber, president and CEO of Boston-based investor coalition and sustainability advocacy group Ceres, said in a statement. “Companies should view the new (task force) recommendations as an opportunity to develop a better strategic understanding of how climate risks and opportunities may affect their business over time.”

Investors increasingly expect companies to assess and disclose material financial risks posed by climate change, Ms. Lubber said, highlighting a shareholder vote in May in which a 62% majority voted in favor of a proposal calling on Irving, Texas-based oil and gas giant ExxonMobil Corp. to assess and disclose how it is preparing its business for the transition to a low-carbon future.