An Opportunity to Shape Future U.S. Capital Markets to Support a Sustainable Society

Instructions for filing a comment (also available here)

E-mail

  • Send comments to rule-comments@sec.gov.
     
  • The subject line of your message must include the File Number for the rule. The file number for the ESG petition is 4-730.
     
  • If you attach a document, indicate the format or software used (e.g., PDF, Word Perfect, MS Word, ASCII text, etc.) to create the attachment.
     
  • Please note that we now accept comment letters in PDF format.
     
  • DO NOT submit attachments as HTML, GIF, TIFF, PIF, ZIP, or EXE.

OR

Paper

Send 3 copies of your paper comment letter to:

Brent Fields, Secretary
Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549-0609

Each copy must list the “File Number” for the rule. The file number for the ESG petition is 4-730.


Sample Organizational Comment- ESG Disclosure Petition  

XXX writes to encourage the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to develop a comprehensive framework for requiring issuers to disclose identified environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects of each public-reporting company’s operations.

For years, investors have been calling upon the SEC to require companies to disclose various types of material ESG risks from climate, to human capital management, to political spending, to tax, to human rights, to gender pay ratios. Moreover, in response to increasing demands from investors for long- term performance and risk management information, companies are attempting to provide this information voluntarily. However, the lack of parameters for the nature, timing, and extent of these voluntary disclosures makes it difficult for investors to compare companies and make informed investment decisions. Other markets are already moving forward on ESG disclosure requirements, leaving the U.S. behind. It is time for the SEC to issue comprehensive, standard guidance for public companies’ disclosure of material ESG risk and opportunity information.  

The SEC has clear statutory authority to require this type of disclosure, and doing so will promote market efficiency, protect the competitive position of American public companies and the U.S. capital markets, and enhance capital formation.

While many companies struggle to provide investors with ESG information that is relevant, reliable, and decision-useful, the companies that do choose to volunteer ESG information typically do so in a manner that is episodic, incomplete, non-comparable, and inconsistent. By issuing standard disclosure rules, the SEC would reduce the current burden of inconsistent reporting requests on public companies and provide a level playing field for the many American companies engaging in voluntary ESG disclosure.

ESG information is material to a broad range of investors today and can be especially relevant for company strategic planning. Today, investors with $68.4 trillion of capital are committed to incorporating ESG factors in their investing and voting decisions as part of the U.N. PRI. Moreover, McKinsey & Company reports that global assets under management utilizing sustainability screens, ESG factors, and comparable SRI corporate engagement strategies were valued at $22.89 trillion at the start of 2016, comprising 26% of all professionally managed assets globally.

[INSERT DETAILS ABOUT SPECIFIC ESG ISSUES OF CONCERN TO THE SUBMITTER]

The SEC received over 26,500 comments in response to its 2016 Concept Release on Business and Financial Disclosure Required by Regulation S-K, the overwhelming majority of which expressed a demand for more and better disclosure in general. The growing number of investor petitions and requests seeking material ESG information clearly demonstrate that it is time for the SEC to establish new standards for corporate reporting in this area.

XXX encourages the Commission to promptly initiate rulemaking to develop mandatory rules for public companies to disclose high-quality, comparable and decision-useful information covering material environmental, social, and governance factors.