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UK Announces Delay to Mandatory Climate Disclosures (Until After Next General Election)
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The UK government, having originally announced that it would decide whether to impose mandatory climate disclosures on companies by July 2024, has now postponed that decision until the first quarter of 2025.

Notably, a delay until the first quarter of 2025 for an announcement of the rule would likely postpone any such decision until after the next general election, which is scheduled to occur no later than January 28, 2025. Thus, this delay may be no more than the Tory government punting the decision to the next government--which, based on the latest polls, is likely to be led by Keir Starmer's Labor Party--and so avoiding not only any associated political cost, but also any political risk connected to mandatory climate disclosures (or the lack thereof). When considered through this framework, the choice to postpone the decision is rather unsurprising.

The content of the mandatory climate disclosures, if adopted, would likely be similar to the mandatory climate disclosure rules promulgated by the EU recently, as well as other enacted (or proposed) disclosure frameworks around the world, focusing on the same core issues--e.g., greenhouse gas emissions and climate risk. While the individual reporting structures may vary across jurisdictions, the core information sought is largely similar, with certain exceptions.

The UK government is pushing back a decision on whether to adopt global sustainability reporting standards for publicly traded companies and incorporate them into its national policies on environmental, social, and governance disclosures. 

The Department for Business and Trade said in an update Thursday that it “aims to make” a decision on whether to approve the International Sustainability Standards Board’s rules by March 2025, missing its self-imposed deadline of July this year. 

If the government approves the international standards, then the Financial Conduct Authority, a financial services watchdog, would decide whether to make them mandatory for companies listed on UK stock exchanges. Big UK companies must make some ESG disclosures already.

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/product/blaw/bloomberglawnews/exp/eyJpZCI6IjA

 
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