UK watchdog extends proposals on climate disclosure rules

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published new proposals on climate-related disclosure rules for listed companies and certain regulated firms.

The proposals follow the introduction of climate-related disclosure rules for the most prominent listed commercial companies in December 2020 which are aligned with the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

The authority said that it is now proposing to extend the application of its TCFD-aligned listing rule for premium-listed commercial companies to issuers of standard listed equity shares.

The UK watchdog is also suggesting TCFD-aligned disclosure requirements for asset managers, life insurers, and FCA-regulated pension providers, with a focus on the information needs of clients and consumers.

“The climate change challenge affects the whole of society,” said Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumer and competition at the FCA. “It is vital that the financial services sector plays a leading role in addressing this challenge."

Mills added: “Managing the risks of climate change and transitioning to a cleaner and less carbon-intensive economy will require high quality information on how climate-related risks and opportunities are being managed throughout the investment chain.”

The director added that climate-related disclosures do not yet meet investor and market participant needs.

“The new rules will help markets, investors and ultimately consumers better understand the impact of climate change and make more informed decisions,' he said.

The new proposals are among the FCA’s first substantive policy proposals for the UK asset management and asset owner sectors since the end of the EU Withdrawal transition period.

The FCA said that with the global reach of regulated firms operating in the UK, it has approached the design of the regime with international consistency in mind and to “accommodate firms’ different business models.”

“The proposed rules are designed to help make sure that the right information on climate-related risks and opportunities is available along the investment chain – from companies in the real economy, to financial services firms, to clients and consumers,” said the FCA. “This should help encourage investment in more sustainable projects and activities, consistent with the Chancellor’s expectations in the FCA’s recent remit letter that the FCA should ‘have regard’ to the Government’s commitment to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050.”

Alongside these proposals, the FCA is also seeking views on other topical environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in capital markets, including on green and sustainable debt markets and the increasingly prominent role of ESG data and rating providers.

The FCA is inviting feedback to both consultations by 10 September 2021 and intends to confirm its final policy on climate-related disclosures before the end of 2021. The FCA will separately consider stakeholder views on the ESG-related discussion topics in capital markets, with a view to publishing a Feedback Statement in the first half of 2022.

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