SEC Commissioner Elad Roisman, one of the two Republican appointees currently serving as a commissioner of the SEC, recently delivered a set of remarks that questioned the new focus of the SEC on climate disclosures.
Specifically, Commissioner Roisman questioned whether the SEC was the appropriate regulatory agency to pursue government action concerning climate change, and critiqued whether new mandatory disclosures focusing on climate change were appropriate.
While Commissioner Roisman is currently in the minority, his views are likely shared by many, and may indicate a degree of pushback, either from within the SEC or other institutional players, to the SEC's recent agenda focusing on climate change disclosures. When evaluating the scope and likely impact of new SEC rules concerning mandatory climate change disclosures, it is important to keep these dissenting views in mind.
It is entirely reasonable for a person to feel that climate change deserves immediate attention from lawmakers and still question whether the SEC mandating new disclosures from U.S. public companies is an appropriate step for the agency. In this forum, I feel confident that we all recognize the fundamental questions here are about the SEC’s authority as a regulator and whether this agency’s intervention is appropriate to address the problems people have identified in our markets. This is an entirely healthy and necessary conversation, and it will be critical for us to have the full spectrum of market participants engaged. If the only people who feel safe to comment are those who want the agency to join the fight against climate change and those whose business models would benefit from new regulation, we will miss hearing from those voices who can alert us to the hidden costs and unintended consequences of our actions.