Britain hardens climate disclosures for listed companies

LONDON (Reuters) - Companies listed on the London Stock Exchange will have to improve disclosures on the risks they are facing from climate change from January, Britain’s financial watchdog said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A trading screen is seen following the opening of the markets by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Chinese Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua at the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/Pool

Nikhil Rathi, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said the new rules will require premium listed companies to make disclosures consistent with a global set of recommendations made by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

The change will be introduced on a “comply or explain” basis, meaning companies must say publicly if they are not applying any of the TCFD disclosures.

“We will also consult in the first half of 2021 on extending the scope of these rules and also on introducing TCFD obligations for asset managers, life insurers and pension providers,” Rathi told an online conference hosted by the City of London.

Rules for the largest firms in those sectors will come into force in 2022, he said.

Premium listings cover two-thirds of market capitalisation of listed shares, worth about 1.9 trillion pounds ($2.5 trillion).

“Implementing the TCFD’s recommendations in the UK is just the first step. It must be complemented by more detailed climate and sustainability reporting standards that promote consistency and comparability,” Rathi said.

Vanessa Havard-Williams, global head of environment law at law firm Linklaters, said: “TCFD reporting is not all straightforward – it requires time and effort to undertake scenario analysis.”

Separately, Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak told parliament on Monday that TCFD disclosures would become mandatory by 2025, going beyond “comply or explain” to support the greening of the UK economy.

($1 = 0.7605 pounds)

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Jan Harvey