Climate Change > Speaking Sustainability
16 Nov '21

The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently established the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), reinforcing the Biden-Harris administration’s strong commitment to mitigating legacy damage from climate change and building resiliency for the future. Established in response to President Biden’s Executive Order in January, the office officially opened on August 1.

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08 Oct '21

Akin Gump was pleased to recently host its inaugural global virtual Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Summit. ESG leaders and Akin Gump lawyers and advisors shared their perspectives on a wide range of topics at the forefront of ESG—including key developments and risk factors for investors, companies and stakeholders both in the United States and internationally.

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19 May '21

According to media reports, during last week’s annual Conference on Financial Market Regulation—hosted jointly by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Economic and Risk Analysis, Lehigh University and the University of Maryland—SEC Chair Gary Gensler announced that the SEC plans to propose a rule requiring public companies to provide certain human capital disclosures. These disclosures would include, among other things, workforce metrics relating to diversity, turnover rate and a breakdown of the number of full and part-time employees.

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14 May '21

Democratic members of both houses of Congress reintroduced last month the Climate Risk Disclosure Act (“Act”), H.R. 2570, a bill that would require every public company to issue climate-related financial disclosures. This week, the House Financial Services Committee reported the bill out of committee by a narrow margin on a party-line vote. Consistent with steps the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken in recent months, the Act aims to accelerate the promulgation of rules requiring public companies to disclose the risks they face from climate change and the strategies taken to address them. The goal, according to the bill’s sponsors, is to help investors evaluate companies’ climate risk profiles and make investment decisions in line with the transition to a clean-energy, climate friendly future.

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09 Mar '21

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continued to build on its climate and environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda last week. On March 3, the SEC’s Division of Examinations announced the release of its 2021 examination priorities that include a greater focus on climate-related risks and ensuring accuracy in ESG-related claims. Then, on March 4, the SEC announced the creation of a Climate and ESG Task Force in the Division of Enforcement. These announcements compliment Acting SEC Chair Allison Herren Lee’s February 24, 2021 statement, which we discussed here, directing the Division of Corporation Finance to “enhance its focus on climate-related disclosure in public company filings,” suggesting guidance or rulemaking related to ESG matters, including climate-related risks, could be on the horizon.

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25 Feb '21

On February 24, 2021, Acting Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Allison Herren Lee issued a statement directing the Division of Corporation Finance to “enhance its focus on climate-related disclosure in public company filings.” Accordingly, Acting Chair Lee announced that, after completing a review of public companies’ efforts and compliance in regards to the SEC’s 2010 interpretative guidance to public companies regarding existing SEC disclosure requirements as they apply to climate change matters (2010 guidance), the SEC staff will update the 2010 guidance to reflect developments in the past decade. The staff’s review will include engagement with public companies and absorption of “critical lessons on how the market is currently managing climate-related risks.” She closed her statement by noting that, “[n]ow more than ever, investors are considering climate-related issues when making their investment decisions” and that ensuring compliance with current rules and updating existing guidelines are steps the SEC can take to produce “consistent, comparable, and reliable climate-related disclosures.”

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05 Feb '21

President Biden began his administration’s push for sustainable infrastructure with his Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. It sets forth a government-wide approach, including a mandate federal agencies to direct more funding to clean energy infrastructure opportunities and to submit climate action plans to a newly-formed climate task force.

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02 Feb '21

Acting Securities and Exchange Commissioner Allison Herren Lee on February 1 announced Satyam Khanna will serve as the agency’s Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. Khanna will advise on ESG issues and is expected to advance ESG initiatives supporting what Lee has called “uniform, consistent and reliable” disclosures.

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