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The week in climate policy: 5 updates you need to know

The SEC mandates emissions disclosures; DOE announced $90 million in funding for energy efficient building codes.

exterior sign for the presidential cabinet office building Department of Energy headquarters

Source: Shutterstock/ 010110010101101

Here’s what happened this week in climate policy news:

  1. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to enforce a new rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their direct greenhouse gas emissions should the information be deemed "material" to investors. Many hoped that the SEC would require that companies also report their indirect emissions, but the agency dropped that requirement from the final rule. The final disclosure rules were weaker than the original proposed rules, released over a year ago, which required all publicly traded U.S. companies to disclose their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
  2. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) will publish guidelines in the coming weeks directing companies to avoid greenwashing in company financial disclosures. The new guidelines are a response, in part, to a report published last month finding that funds’ claims to contribute to ESG goals are more often than not, misleading or unsubstantiated. 
  3. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to roll out an abridged version of its rule in April mandating all fossil fuel production facilities capture emitted carbon dioxide. It’s being reported that 2,000 gas-fired power plants, the nation’s top generator of electricity, will be temporarily exempt from the rule. The EPA has said that it will soon release a more durable rule specifically tailored to gas-powered energy facilities.
  4. A Carbon Brief analysis claims that a second term for Donald Trump would lead to an additional 4 billion tons of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to a second term for President Joe Biden. The impact is equivalent to $900 billion worth of global climate damages. These costs could be reduced, the report said, if Biden’s climate laws and regulations prove to be harder to repeal than currently assumed. 
  5. The Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of $90 million for states and localities to adopt and implement energy efficient building codes. The funding is the second installment of a $225 million program established by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. DOE will prioritize teams with strategic private sector partnerships, including local building agencies, codes and standards developers, or associations of builders and design and construction professionals.

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