Today we start a series of podcasts with six luminaries of the conflict minerals world:
- Catherine Tyson of Intel Corporation
- Michael Littenberg of Ropes & Gray
- Sasha Lezhnev of The Sentry
- Dr. Chris Bayer of Development International
- Mike Loch of Responsible Trade LLC
- Dr. Jennifer Kraus of SourceIntelligence
These member-exclusive podcasts (between 20-30 minutes each) explore similarities and important differences between the SEC conflict minerals rule and the climate disclosure proposal, both of which are “disclosure only” frameworks. In the series, my guests examine topics and questions such as:
- Has the rule had the intended impact in the African Great Lakes Region, which was the focus of the 2010 law?
- Data quality and management challenges in conflict minerals & will they be similar to/different for climate data?
- Legal and business risks – then, now and looking ahead: will the landscape be different with climate disclosures?
- Dealing with suppliers and making business decisions
- Will climate performance thresholds become contractual terms similar to conflict minerals?
- The business case for conflict minerals conformance – can that be a model for climate programs?
- Will customers actually pay a premium for “more responsible” products?
- Who will be reading climate disclosures and what they expect based on the conflict minerals disclosure successes
- How did governments and markets respond to conflict minerals disclosures, and will we see the same for climate risk management?
One question all podcast guests faced is whether industry groups might be able to replicate the success of the smelter/refiner audit programs to help companies with climate data and disclosure, especially for Scope 3 emissions. In an interesting twist, just yesterday the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) announced such a program. The extent to which companies will reach out to their suppliers for emissions data in a manner similar to how conflict minerals information is gathered remains to be seen once a final release is issued. The Wall Street Journal reported on September 15 that SEC Chairman Gary Gensler clarified in a U.S. Senate oversight hearing that “public companies reporting emissions linked to their supply chain—known as Scope 3 emissions—can estimate the carbon footprint of small suppliers and still comply with the proposed rule.”
I expect some companies will choose to send emissions data requests to all their suppliers but this poses a high risk of double counting Scope 3 emissions unless a methodology is implemented to address that.
Members can listen to the first podcast with Catherine Tyson. I will blog about others as they are available.
And don’t forget that next week the 1st Annual PracticalESG Conference boasts two sessions on different aspects of emissions accounting and the SEC proposed release on climate disclosure that you won’t want to miss.