TCFD climate reporting initiative passes 1,000 supporters

Feb 18, 2020
Investors and issuers driving climate risk-related financial concerns into the mainstream

The number of organizations signed up to the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has increased fourfold since 2017, with banks getting on board at the highest rate.

The Michael Bloomberg-chaired climate initiative has secured more than 1,000 issuers’ and investors’ signatures as climate change poses an increasing financial risk, according to a statement issued by TCFD.

In an effort to increase transparency on climate-related risks and opportunities, the task force set up by the Financial Stability Board in 2015 aims to bring together shareholders and companies to support the voluntary reporting framework.

The 1,027 supporters worldwide represent a combined market capitalization of almost $12 trillion, with 473 financial firms managing combined assets of $138.8 trillion. Financial groups have signed up to support the task force at the highest rate, with 93 banks having joined worldwide by last month. Bank of New York Mellon, Italian UniCredit and Wells Fargo are among those that came on board in 2019.

The climate initiative’s recommendations concentrate on four key areas of reporting: governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets.

The framework encourages companies to disclose on methods that address climate-related risks and opportunities at management and board level. According to the TCFD website, a climate-related financial report should also look at company strategies developed to hit global climate goals.

Moreover, the financial disclosure covers processes used by organizations to identify, assess and manage climate-related risk along with metrics and targets designed to address these risks.

‘The TCFD recommendations target every company in the world, every industry and every jurisdiction, so our framework is very flexible,’ says Mara Childress, a member of the TCFD secretariat and director of global public policy at Bloomberg. ‘It is meant to allow companies to talk about what is most relevant to them, which we hope is the most important information for investors.’

Despite companies making great strides in voluntary reporting, Childress underscores the need for a standardized metric that could ease reporting hurdles for issuers and avoid a cacophony of differing standards.

‘We have already worked on bringing standards together,’ she says. ‘There is an initiative called the Corporate Reporting Dialogue, where other reporting frameworks come together on how to reduce the reporting burden. I think the [Greenhouse Gas Protocol] is closest to being a standard metric [globally].’

She adds: ‘Climate change could present a significant risk for a lot of companies. If investors are able to price that risk into their financial decision-making that would lead to a pretty significant reallocation of capital over time,’ Childress says.

Firms from transport, commercial and professional services, oil, gas and consumable fuels sectors – seen as the greatest polluters – still represent a low number among all supporters. Only five companies from the services sector and eight transport firms have joined the imitative so far, according to TCFD

Twenty-one metals and mining firms – including Switzerland-based Glencore and Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto – and 28 companies from chemicals sectors such as Japan’s Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings have joined, lagging far behind the number of banks willing to disclose.

All Asia-based chemical companies that support climate-related financial disclosure are Japanese. Chinese chemicals conglomerates have still not declared their support for the climate task force.

The total number of supporters headquartered in 55 countries span public and private sectors including companies, national governments such as Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, Japan, Sweden and the UK, government ministries, central banks, regulators, stock exchanges and credit rating agencies.

The growing levels of sign-up for the TCFD is reflected elsewhere in the ESG disclosure ecosystem. The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) said in December that, during the year since it launched its 77 industry-specific reporting standards, 120 companies have started using the standards in their ESG reporting.

The Corporate Reporting Dialogue, an effort by different ESG reporting groups to find parallels in their standards and, where possible, simplify the process of issuers, was launched in 2018. The founding members are the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Climate Disclosure Standards Board, FASB, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), International Accounting Standards Board, International Organization for Standardization and SASB.

As part of the project, SASB, GRI and CDP aim to map their frameworks against the TCFD recommendations. SASB reporting is now compliant with TCFD guidelines.

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