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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

Today is the day the SEC presents its proposal for climate disclosures. We will be reviewing the proposal today and publishing a summary with our comments tomorrow.

For big updates like this, we usually blog about them. But there are many other things that we post to our website as resources for members that we don’t publicize. One feature of our website that can help track these items is the Dashboard. In the Dashboard, members can subscribe to specific subject areas and automatically keep track of new items we post to those Subject Areas. We have enhancements planned to improve the number of items tracked and how they are organized.

Audit Committees and ESG

On another topic close to my heart – audits, I borrow from Dave Lynn over on Deloitte’s Consuelo Hitchcock, Maynard Cooper & Gale’s Bob Dow, Tapestry Networks’ Eric Shor and Ernst & Young’s Josh Jones discussed in recent webcast for members, “Audit Committees in Action: The Latest Developments” the ever-expanding areas of oversight responsibility for the audit committee, accounting and auditing topics on the SEC’s radar and auditor independence. Here is a nugget from Josh Jones about the role of audit committees in ESG oversight and documentation:

If you’re the audit committee, you’ll need to think about, ‘How have we thought about some more of these ESG risks?’ You’ll also need to consider how the company has thought through its own particular strategy and how that’s working its way into the financial reporting process, including all of these kinds of required kind of disclosure elements in the filing. Consider how the company’s controls are perhaps expanding beyond the normal financial reporting department to really capture those elements when thinking about things like impairment decisions.

It’s casting a wider net and adding more variables to some of those controls and decisions than we have in the past. And in some cases, those impacts may not be imminent and may not be easily discernible. But at the same time, at least asking the question, ‘How has the company thought about those in connection with the financial statements relative to public disclosures and elements of their public sustainability reports?’ It’s all things that audit committees would be well versed to making sure they’re connecting all those dots as it relates to meeting their regulatory obligations.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile