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WEF: Companies sign up to new environmental disclosure scheme

By Elena Berton

The scheme will see the world’s largest companies account for business and social environmental impact in their annual reports from 2021

Around 140 of the world’s largest companies, including the Big Four accountancy firms, have signed up to a comprehensive effort backed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to account for business and social environmental impact.

The new scheme, launched by the WEF’s International Business Council, will enable companies to report a common set of environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics and disclosures on the non-financial aspects of business performance such as greenhouse gas emissions and strategies, diversity, employee health and wellbeing.

The metrics – prepared in collaboration with Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – would be reflected in corporate annual reports on a consistent basis across industry sectors and countries, the WEF said.

The metrics focus on the four sectors of governance, planet, people and prosperity. They would be deployed in corporate accounts from 2021, WEF added, without disclosing the names of the companies that have signed up.

Brian Moynihan, chief executive of Bank of America and co-ordinator of the initiative, told the FT he expected that most large companies would adopt the system by next year, due to investors’ growing scrutiny of ESG issues and peer pressure.

Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, last week highlighted the need for standardised climate reporting and called for companies to use frameworks published by the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board and the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.

BlackRock has unveiled a specific set of climate-related changes to its investment processes, saying it would exit both debt and equity investments in thermal coal producers in its active portfolios.

FURTHER READING: WEF: Climate dominates risks to world economy

FURTHER READING: Should investors be thinking about climate change?

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