As a consequence of Brexit, the United Kingdom also left the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). The U.K.’s replacement cap and trade program, the U.K. Emissions Trading Scheme (U.K. ETS), went live on Wednesday last week. The U.K. government and the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland collectively constitute the U.K. ETS Authority to oversee the U.K. ETS.
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.
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.
Last week, the Biden-Harris administration took action—with some bipartisan backing from Capitol Hill—to reduce the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These highly potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) are commonly found in refrigerants, building insulation, aerosols, fire suppressants, and other materials and consumer products. Late last year, Congress directed the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop the rule as part of an omnibus spending bill. The draft rule marks an important early step in the administration’s efforts to combat climate pollutants such as HFCs in furtherance of its nationally determined contribution recently submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under the Paris Agreement, as well as the country’s commitments made under the Montreal Protocol. It also highlights how EPA is implementing Biden’s campaign rhetoric and executive directives on environmental justice into cognizable regulatory action.
The Biden-Harris administration announced on April 22, 2021—fewer than three months after rejoining the Paris Agreement — a new target to reduce U.S. economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The voluntary target constitutes the country’s new “Nationally Determined Contribution” (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, which the U.S. formally communicated to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in a 24-page submission.
President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate has wrapped up. The event saw world leaders highlighting their countries’ respective climate commitments, calling for collective action, and attending breakout sessions designed to foster dialogue around climate finance and technological innovation, among other topics. After Vice President Harris and President Biden opened the summit, Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered further introductory remarks before the trio joined Climate Envoy John Kerry at a horseshoe-shaped table to watch speeches from the world leaders in attendance. Then fifteen additional cabinet heads, political appointees, and special advisors spoke or moderated sessions during over the next two days. These U.S. officials comprise the core leadership team tasked with implementing the administration’s “whole of government” climate strategy. Below, we introduce these key members in the order in which they first appeared during the Summit, and project the role each will play in the “whole of government” approach.
Friday, April 23, 2021, marked the conclusion of President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate. In this post, we note five key takeaways. In the weeks to follow, Akin Gump will publish in-depth analyses on several of these topics, but, for now, here are our quick thoughts:
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Examinations issued a Risk Alert on April 9, 2021 focusing on staff observations from examinations of investment advisers, registered investment companies and private funds engaged in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. This article reviews the Risk Alert, touching on focus areas, observations of deficiencies and internal control weaknesses, and recommended effective practices.