Much of S&P 500 adopts sustainable accounting standard, foundation says

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York, United States, September 24, 2021. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly

September 24 (Reuters) – More than half of S&P 500 companies now use a common Value Reporting Foundation standard to report on topics such as carbon emissions and energy management, indicating that executives grant more attention to an area likely to face new regulations soon, a foundation official said.

“The market has already gained a lot of momentum in the direction the SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission) is advocating,” said Neil Stewart, director of corporate outreach for the global nonprofit, in an interview. .

As of Aug.31, 324 S&P 500 companies were using the foundation’s standard, up from 201 companies at the end of 2020, according to the group, which is backed by large asset managers including BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) and State Street. Corp (STT.N).

The guide describes how companies from different industries should disclose environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues.

The standard is also increasingly used in non-U.S. Indexes, the foundation said. Use of a different ESG effort, the Global Reporting Initiative, has also increased, with at least 10,000 users worldwide, a spokesperson for the initiative said.

This year, the SEC asked for public comment on how it might order companies to report similar information on their climate impact and other areas. read more Agency officials did not immediately comment on the status of the review on Friday.

In a “sample letter” on its website, the SEC described the type of questions it is currently asking companies.

These could include questions about the risks of climate change litigation, or asking companies to explain why statements made in voluntary corporate social responsibility reports are different from those made in SEC files. .

“The takeaway for me is that companies should take this as an opportunity to re-evaluate their climate materiality decisions,” said Covington attorney Matthew Franker.

Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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