Ever since March 2022, when the SEC released its proposed climate change disclosure guidelines, observers and commentators have watching and waiting to see when the agency would release its final disclosure rules. But in the meantime, important developments elsewhere may mean that many companies may face climate change-related disclosure requirements regardless of the shape the SEC’s final guidelines take. As I noted (here), in July, the European Union adopted its first set of sustainability reporting standards, which will have extensive impact both within and outside the EU. Now, the California legislature has adopted two far-reaching climate-related disclosure bills, which could affect thousands of companies – both public and private, and both within and outside California – and that together could, as the Wall Street Journal put it, represent “among the biggest changes in corporate disclosure in decades.”Continue Reading California Enacts Far-Reaching Climate-Related Disclosure Requirements

In recent posts on this site (for example, here), I have discussed the developing ESG-related litigation phenomenon in which claimants file suits not against ESG laggards bur rather against companies that have taken the initiative on ESG-related matters. However, the existence of this trend, while noteworthy, does not negate the possibilities for litigation involving the ESG laggards, as well. There are in fact noteworthy instances of this latter type of litigation, much of it in Europe, as is well-detailed in a December 2022 white paper from the Jones Day law firm entitled “ESG – Climate Change and Related Litigation Takes Center State in Europe” (here). The white paper not only catalogs recent European ESG-related litigation but also identifies regulatory developments and other trends that could contribute to further litigation in the future.
Continue Reading Lessons from Climate Change-Related Litigation in Europe

As I discussed at the time (here), in March 2022, the SEC published proposed climate-related disclosure guidelines. The agency’s proposal is now in the public comment period, and it remains to be seen in what form the guidelines will be put into effect. However, it seems probable that that the guidelines will be implemented in some form, despite concerns expressed in public comments so far. If the rules are put into effect in some form close to the initial proposal, there will be a risk that claimants may seek to rely on the guidelines in connection with future corporate and securities lawsuits. A detailed and interesting September 12, 2022 memo from the Cleary Gottlieb law firm (here) discussed the possibility that the climate change disclosure guidelines could give rise to a host of potential future litigation risks. (Hat tip to the TheCorporateCounsel.net blog for the link to the law firm memo.)
Continue Reading Will Corporate and Securities Litigation Follow SEC Adoption of Climate Disclosure Guidelines?

On March 21, 2022, the SEC, by a 3-1 vote along party lines, approved the issuance of proposed rule changes that, if adopted, would require all registered companies, including foreign issuers, to make specified disclosures related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in their registration statements and in annual SEC filings (such as reports on Form 10-K). As discussed below, the proposed disclosure requirements have already provoked significant commentary. The SEC’s 534-page proposed rule release can be found here. The SEC’s fact sheet about the proposed rules can be found here. The SEC’s March 21, 2022 press release about the proposed rules can be found here.
Continue Reading Thinking About the SEC’s Proposed Climate Change Disclosure Requirements

Francis Kean

As long time readers know, I have long been warning that climate change-related issues could have a significant impact on directors and officers liability exposures. In the following guest post, Francis Kean provides a summary outline of the specific litigation exposures that corporate directors and officers may face as a result of emerging climate change-related concerns. Francis is Executive Director FINEX Willis Towers Watson. Francis will be joining McGill and Partners in early spring 2020. I would like to thank Francis for allowing me to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Francis’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Climate Change Litigation Threats to Directors and Officers