Australia’s proposed climate disclosure law
The Australian government has proposed a new law to enhance climate-related financial disclosures from companies and other entities operating in the country. Drawing from the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the proposed legislation intends to provide investors and stakeholders with reliable information about the financial risks and opportunities associated with climate change. It is part of the government’s broader efforts to address climate change, foster sustainable economic growth, and safeguard the interests of investors and the broader financial system. The law will likely apply to larger entities, including listed companies, banks, insurers, and superannuation funds, but would also impact smaller companies over three years.
Key features of the reporting requirements:
- Precise climate-related financial disclosures in annual reports.
- Information on the financial impact of climate-related risks and opportunities on business activities.
- Disclosure of relevant metrics and targets related to climate-related risks.
Entities are encouraged to conduct scenario analyses to assess the potential financial impacts of various climate change scenarios. Companies must also disclose information about governance processes, controls, and procedures for managing climate-related risks and opportunities. External assurance of climate-related financial disclosures is also on the table and would enhance credibility and reliability.
The Australian government plans to phase the proposed law to allow entities time to meet the new requirements. Still, the writing is on the wall: Australia acknowledges the need for globally consistent climate-related financial disclosures. The law aims to promote cross-border consistency and reduce regulatory fragmentation by considering global reporting standards like those developed by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB).
ISSB ’s new sustainability disclosure standards
The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has introduced two new disclosure standards, IFRS S1, and IFRS S2. The two finalized standards aim to establish a global benchmark for sustainability-related disclosures for capital markets.
IFRS S1 (General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information) centers around disclosing sustainability-related risks and opportunities across the short-, medium-, and long-term to facilitate better investor decision-making. Conversely, IFRS S2 (Climate-related Disclosures) details specific climate-related disclosures and is meant to work in tandem with IFRS S1. Both standards draw from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations and aim to improve the quality of information available to investors and are supported by various global stakeholders, including investors, companies, policymakers, regulators, and international organizations like the IOSCO, the Financial Stability Board, G20, and G7 Leaders.
In addition to TCFD recommendations, the ISSB’s standards strive to unify and build upon existing sustainability disclosure initiatives like SASB Standards, CDSB Framework, Integrated Reporting Framework, and World Economic Forum metrics. The unification is a boon for companies already leveraging previous sustainability reporting investments because it helps tone down the complexity of multiple reporting frameworks.
In short, these new disclosure standards promote global compatibility for financial markets. Both IFRS S1 and IFRS S2 will become effective for annual reporting periods beginning on or after January 1, 2024.
1. ESG Today, “Australia to Introduce Mandatory Climate-Related Reporting for Companies Starting 2024,” https://www.esgtoday.com/australia-to-introduce-mandatory-climate-related-reporting-for-companies-starting-2024/ Accessed on July 6, 2023
2. GreenBiz, “The first ISSB reporting standards are here — what that means for investors,” https://www.greenbiz.com/article/first-issb-reporting-standards-are-here-what-means-investors Accessed on July 6, 2023
3. IFRS, “ISSB issues inaugural global sustainability disclosure standards,” https://www.ifrs.org/news-and-events/news/2023/06/issb-issues-ifrs-s1-ifrs-s2/ Accessed on July 6, 2023