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Fossil Fuel companies failing legal duty to report climate risk

Some fossil fuel companies are failing in their legal duty to address climate risk in their reporting, a group of non-profit organisations working in the financial and regulatory sphere said today.

ClientEarth, The Carbon Tracker Initiative, CDP and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) are calling on the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) to ensure companies in the oil, gas and coal sectors are complying with the rules in their reporting.

David Cooke, of ClientEarth, said: “It’s essential that this information is disclosed to investors so they can make informed decisions about the companies they invest in. Without this information, investors are flying blind.”

Mark Campanale, founder and executive director of Carbon Tracker said:  “The lack of consideration and disclosure of climate risk by fossil fuel companies is staggering; they are continuing to behave as if climate targets will not impact their business models.  This clearly isn’t the case and today it is a matter that is material for shareholders. Fuller guidance by regulators on what ought to be disclosed is the first place for the FRC to start.”

In a letter to the FRC, the NGOs make clear that the climate risks facing fossil fuel companies are considerable and material. 

The direction of travel of legislation and policy and the growth in the increasingly competitive low carbon sector need to be factored into current investment decisions, as they are likely to impact cash flow and economic returns on existing projects. 

Legislation requires UK incorporated businesses to produce a strategic report, which for fossil fuel companies should contain information on how they are dealing with climate risk. 

It is clear that many fossil fuel companies are not satisfying mandatory reporting requirements.

“There are financial risks from climate change for companies across all sectors of the economy, with fossil fuel companies particularly exposed as countries increase ambitions to reduce carbon-intensive energy demand,” says Paul Simpson, chief executive officer at CDP. “Access to high quality information is essential for the management of these risks.”  

Jane Stevensen, Managing Director of CDSB said: “As the UK's independent regulator responsible for setting the framework of codes and standards for the accounting community, we urge the FRC to exercise its functions to ensure that fossil fuel companies satisfy the levels of disclosure required by law in order to fully inform stakeholders and protect investors from carbon asset stranding risks.”