Businesses Wait for SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule, but Many Say its Virtually Already in Effect

Businesses Wait for SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule, but Many Say its Virtually Already in Effect
While challenges to the regulator's emissions tracking mandate are likely, numerous companies already recognize the importance of evaluating their suppliers, even if the proposed Scope 3 rules are diluted.

Despite the absence of a finalized U.S. climate disclosure rule, many companies are already taking steps to assess greenhouse gas emissions within their supply chains. The forthcoming Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule aims to mandate public companies to report climate-related risks and emissions data, potentially including Scope 3 emissions from their supply chains.

Numerous companies are proactively responding to various pressures, such as sustainability-focused shareholders and environmentally conscious consumers, by treating the rule as if it were already in effect.

Companies like Square Roots and Salesforce, Inc. have been prioritizing carbon-related goals for years, independently of government requirements. Square Roots, for example, has been quantifying emissions, including Scope 3, from its supply chain and has encouraged suppliers to adopt their own emission reduction targets. Similarly, Salesforce tracks emissions, including Scope 3, and subjects them to third-party scrutiny. These companies recognize that their full value chain contributes to their carbon footprint and impact, and they strive for positive change beyond their own operations.

However, not all businesses are enthusiastic about the cost and complexity of complying with a Scope 3 mandate from the SEC. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Walmart Inc. have expressed concerns, with Exxon Mobil suggesting the “risk" of double counting and Walmart stating that Scope 3 reporting is currently unreliable due to the sheer number of suppliers involved.

The SEC's Chair, Gary Gensler, has clarified that the rule is not intended to include small businesses, and the SEC is “working through” this issue. In the face of these challenges, some companies have resorted to estimating Scope 3 emissions instead of directly requesting data from their small suppliers.

While legal uncertainties persist, companies are actively gathering the necessary data for compliance. Investors play a significant role in driving these efforts, with pension funds like the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York setting emission reduction targets for their investments, including Scope 3 emissions. These funds aim to eliminate emissions from businesses in their portfolios, including Scope 3 emissions, by 2040.

Jurisdictions such as the European Union and certain U.S. states have already adopted or proposed similar rules to address supply chain emissions. This indicates that emissions disclosure is already a well-established practice and is likely to continue evolving, whether or not mandatory requirements are imposed by regulators.

It is unclear how carbon dioxide removal will play a role in this mandate as the ruling is still being finalized. Thanks a Ton is hopeful that regardless of where it lands, companies who are already doing the right thing will be rewarded for their efforts, and those who are not yet on board will have an easier path to follow.

Thanks a Ton also encourages companies to begin supporting carbon removal rather than traditional avoidance offsets.

“The current mess in the atmosphere is like an ongoing oil spill,” Siobhan Montoya Lavender, co-founder at Thanks a Ton said. “Of course, we need to stop the oil spill from continuing, i.e. decarbonizing the entire economy, but we also need to invent mops and buckets to clean it up, i.e. scaling up carbon dioxide removal.”

One way organizations can support carbon dioxide removal in a fun, friendly way is by sending online greeting cards from Thanks a Ton to coworkers, clients, partners, or conference attendees. Our collections feature a variety of cards and carbon removal methods that can be sent for as little as $5 all the way up to the price of a ton. Send a greeting card today and help mother nature by supporting carbon removal.

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