By: E. Lynn Grayson
Ceres and CookESG Research have launched a new search tool allowing easier access to companies' climate change-related disclosures to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC Climate Disclosure Search allows searching by year, company, ticker, industry group or stock index as well as environmental themes such as energy/fuel efficiency, climate and fossil fuel extraction and greenhouse gas emissions.
The SEC Climate Disclosure Search examines 10-Ks of companies that have been constituents of the Russell 3000 Index at any time from 2009 forward. New filings are added weekly. According to Ceres, the SEC Climate Disclosure Search helps researchers understand how companies are tackling potential material risks they may face from climate change.
Ceres believes that sustainability disclosure in SEC filings has become an increasingly important source of information for investors and stakeholders. If management believes the firm faces material climate-related risks, SEC rules may require disclosure of those issues. In addition, the 2010 SEC interpretive guidance on climate change disclosure advises companies on what risks may be material and how to report them.
In the explanation accompanying the search tool, Ceres concludes that investors increasingly recognize that climate change threatens to change the competitive landscape across whole industries and markets, and they require improved corporate reporting to understand these issues. Narrative disclosure can include decision-useful information and reflect a company's current response to climate risk and preparedness for likely future risks. Also, other important sustainability issues closely linked to climate change, such as water availability and quality, are becoming increasingly important to investors.
The tool is available at http://www.ceres.org/resources/tools/sec-climate-disclosure/sec-climate-disclosure.