What is the SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule?

The SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule: A Catalyst for a New Era in Corporate Sustainability
August 3, 2023
min read

The SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule: A Catalyst for a New Era in Corporate Sustainability

The draft climate disclosure rule released by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 21, 2022, has sparked intense debates about the future of corporate sustainability assessment, going beyond the traditional Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics. This article explores the history of ESG, its limitations, and how the SEC's new climate disclosure rule is set to revolutionize corporate accountability and environmental reporting.

The Evolution of ESG Metrics

ESG metrics gained prominence in 2006 with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment report. The aim was to promote corporate citizenship by addressing environmental stewardship, workforce diversity, and gender representation in executive and board positions. However, ESG faced challenges due to its lack of a clear definition and the often-misinterpreted relationship between ESG scores and financial performance.

ESG's Shortcomings

The fundamental issue with ESG metrics lies in their ambiguity, as companies could define their ESG measures differently, leading to variations in reporting standards across industries. Additionally, while studies showed a statistical correlation between higher ESG scores and improved financial outcomes, causation could not be conclusively established.

The SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule

The SEC's draft climate disclosure rule marks a significant milestone in recognizing the severity of the climate crisis and the need for corporate accountability. Although it does not directly focus on ESG reporting, the rule standardizes the disclosure of a company's exposure to climate-related risks and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With carbon pricing becoming a permanent factor in business operations, standardized metrics are crucial for effectively benchmarking and evaluating corporate environmental performance.

The Need for Standardization

ESG departments have long struggled to provide consistent benchmarks for corporate sustainability. The lack of standardized metrics makes it difficult to measure and audit environmental claims effectively. The SEC's climate disclosure rule addresses this issue by introducing industry standards that bridge the gap between environmental performance and financial results.

Measuring Environmental Performance

By providing clear guidelines for measuring and reporting exposure to climate-related risks and GHG emissions, the SEC's rule allows corporations to view sustainability through a financial lens. This shift from moral themes to data-driven financial information enables companies to identify risks, proactively address them, and maintain a balanced approach to their business operations.

Implications for Corporate Sustainability

The SEC's climate disclosure rule signifies a potential shift away from relying solely on ESG as the primary metric for assessing corporate sustainability. While ESG served as a valuable starting point, the rule sets the stage for a new era where environmental performance takes center stage in determining a company's long-term viability and financial stability.

Impact on Small Business

Small businesses, even those not publicly traded, should be aware of the SEC Climate Disclosure requirements as they might be indirectly impacted. Suppliers to publicly traded companies may be asked to disclose their climate-related risks and opportunities, even if they are not subject to the rules themselves. Staying informed about these requirements ensures compliance and may positively impact small businesses' relationships with their customers.


Standard Carbon's platform SCOP3 offers an efficient and accurate method to measure, account for, and reduce GHG emissions within a company's operations. By leveraging spend-based Climate Accounting, the software provides a robust framework for calculating GHG emissions.


While ESG metrics played a crucial role in promoting corporate responsibility and sustainability, the SEC's climate disclosure rule represents a significant step forward. By standardizing climate-related disclosures, the rule enables a more accurate assessment of a company's environmental performance and its implications on financial stability. Embracing this new era of corporate accountability is vital, as addressing the climate crisis is essential for building a sustainable and prosperous future.

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What is the SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule?

What is the SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule?

The SEC's Climate Disclosure Rule: A Catalyst for a New Era in Corporate Sustainability

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September 19, 2023
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