Posted on Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, published a letter to CEOs which included a section on “Why Data and Disclosure Matter”. He reiterates BlackRock’s support for SASB and TCFD standards; advocates a move to a single sustainability standard; encourages private, as well as public companies, to adopt these standards; and notes the importance of climate-related disclosures for issuers of public debt as well.

Assessing sustainability risks requires that investors have access to consistent, high-quality, and material public information. This is why last year, we asked all companies to report in alignment with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), which covers a broader set of material sustainability factors. We are greatly encouraged by the progress we have seen over the past year – a 363% increase in SASB disclosures and more than 1,700 organizations expressing support for the TCFD. (BlackRock issued our own inaugural TCFD and SASB reports last year.)

TCFD reports are the global standard for helping investors understand the most material climate-related risks that companies face, and how companies are managing them. Given how central the energy transition will be to every company’s growth prospects, we are asking companies to disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net zero economy – that is, one where global warming is limited to well below 2ºC, consistent with a global aspiration of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We are asking you to disclose how this plan is incorporated into your long-term strategy and reviewed by your board of directors.

We appreciate that disclosure can be cumbersome and that the variety of reporting frameworks creates further complexity for companies. We strongly support moving to a single global standard, which will enable investors to make more informed decisions about how to achieve durable long-term returns. Because better sustainability disclosures are in companies’ as well as investors’ own interests, I urge companies to move quickly to issue them rather than waiting for regulators to impose them. (While the world moves towards a single standard, BlackRock continues to endorse TCFD- and SASB-aligned reporting.) In addition, I believe TCFD should not just be adopted by public companies. If we want these disclosures to be truly effective – if we want to see true societal change – they should be embraced by large private companies as well.

Further, it is not just companies that face climate-related risk. For example, we believe that issuers of public debt also should be disclosing how they are addressing climate-related risks. But measurement and disclosure are not the only challenges. Governments around the world, under severe fiscal strain from the pandemic, also need to undertake massive climate infrastructure projects, both to protect against physical risk and to deliver clean energy. These challenges will require creative public-private partnership to finance them, as well as better disclosures to attract capital.

Read the BlackRock letter.