Tech giant Apple has come out in support of mandatory climate disclosures for companies, issuing a call on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require consistent, audited emissions reporting.

Apple Global Head of Environmental and Energy Policy Arvin Ganesan issued a statement today, highlighting the centrality of transparency by companies in the fights against climate change:

“Disclosure is an important tool in the fight against climate change. Measuring and mapping carbon emissions enables companies to understand their footprint, develop strategies to reduce emissions and, ultimately, achieve decarbonization. And when keyed to thoughtful metrics, disclosure can serve to create a baseline of comparable, consistent and reliable information, help establish best practices, and promote competition – all critical steps to combatting climate change.”

Ganesan continues:

 “Apple, therefore, believes that the SEC should issue rules to require that companies disclose third-party-audited emissions information to the public, covering all scopes of emissions, direct and indirect, and the value chain.”

Sustainability reporting, particularly related to climate issues has become a key focus issue for investors looking to increasingly integrate climate and other sustainability issues in their investment processes, with a lack of consistent, comprehensive data repeatedly cited as the key barrier to sustainable investing.

Apple’s statement comes as the SEC is re-examining sustainability and climate reporting rules for companies. In February, SEC Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee announced that the commission will review its guidance for public company obligations for disclosures related to climate change risk, citing increased demand by investors for material, comprehensive and consistent information. The review includes determining the extent to which such disclosures should be mandatory.

Several countries have signaled a significant ramp in ESG reporting requirements recently. In November 2020, UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced plans to make the UK the first country in the world to mandate economy wide disclosures in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). European regulators have also recently signaled support for the creation of global sustainability reporting standards, and the European Commission is reviewing its owns non-financial reporting directive (NFRD) rules with an eye to enhancing climate and other sustainability-related disclosures.

Sustainability-focused organizations welcomed the call for mandatory reporting by Apple. Following the release of Ganesan’s statement, Mindy Lubber, CEO and President of Ceres, said:

“Today’s bold announcement from Apple affirms that there is support from companies to mandate the disclosure of comprehensive, decision-useful climate-related information that financial markets, investors and stakeholders need. In becoming the first major U.S. publicly traded company to come out in favor of the SEC issuing mandatory climate disclosure rules, Apple is demonstrating their commitment to transparency and support for necessary regulatory change.”

Apple has emerged as a leading corporate voice in the climate fight. After achieving carbon neutrality in its own operations, the company announced in July 2020 a new commitment to become carbon neutral across its manufacturing supply chain and product life cycle by 2030. Earlier this year, the company disclosed that it will incorporate ESG considerations into its executive compensation program.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, tweeted:

“We’re determined to do our part to fight climate change & believe transparency is an important part of this. Apple has publicly disclosed our greenhouse gas emissions for a decade, and we believe other companies should do the same.”

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