Bringing together an expert panel of contributors, Dana Davis, Assistant Vice President, Sustainability, Energy and Climate, WSP USA; Ayman Chowdhury, Director of Programs and Advisory at Competent Boards; Andy Garraway, Climate Policy Lead at Risilience; and moderated by Risilience General Counsel, Eric Drattell, the webinar discussed what Ayman Chowdhury described as “the tsunami of regulations and standards” business organisations are facing and what steps companies and boards can take to prepare for disclosure. The webinar is now available to watch on demand.

Policy expert Andy Garraway, who was part of the Presidency team at Glasgow’s COP26, provided an overview of the California Climate Acts (CCA), SB 253 and SB 261, that put in place sweeping climate disclosure requirements for both public and private companies doing business in the Golden State: “The Acts mandate the disclosure of Scopes 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and require climate-risk disclosure in line with the international framework which was established by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Disclosures are due to start in 2026 based on 2025 data.”

He also talked to the SEC in relation to the CCA: “A straightforward reading of the SEC climate disclosure requirements indicate that SEC disclosures will not satisfy the CCA requirements, meaning public companies reporting to both California and to the SEC will have to prepare distinct disclosures. But we do need to wait for legal analysis of the SEC requirements to draw a firm conclusion on that point.”

Garraway concluded: “The CCA are important but part of a broader regulatory jigsaw puzzle. They are an incredibly useful tool to help investors assess a company’s exposure to climate risk and to help a company comply with other jurisdictions’ requirements.”

Dana Davis explained the importance for companies to act as soon as possible rather than waiting for clarity on regulation: “Even if an organisaton may not have to comply specifically with the CCA or SEC rules, it might be indirectly affected because so many of these frameworks and regulations take a value-chain perspective. You may be asked by your customers, for example, for your emissions disclosures because they need to report that in their overall footprint.”

Ayman Chowdhury talked about the critical role of governance, particularly “the role of the board in ensuring that the strategy and the oversight is done well.”

Discussion turned to the importance of data in preparing for reporting and the emerging role of AI in relation to data gaps. Also, the need for organisations to collaborate across the business and bringing all stakeholders to the table to secure an enterprise view.

Dana Davis urged organisations to make a start at the earliest: “It is a journey and, in terms of resource planning and the time that it takes to truly align, it makes sense to start sooner rather than later.” Davis also talked about the role of peer groups in business: “Nobody wants to be the laggard. Keeping pace with that peer group and understanding how the peer group is advancing their alignment is also really important.”

The hour-long webinar discussed the perceived backlash in some quarters against ESG with panellists advising companies to continue focussing on the risks and opportunities material to their organisations. The need for business to understand and address nature and biodiversity as well as climate was agreed and the benefits and opportunities of taking early action were highlighted, including a competitive edge to identifying new products and services that appeal to the low-carbon and nature-positive economy.

All panellists concurred that organisations should not wait for regulation to drive action. “Don’t wait to see what might affect the timelines of the CCA or SEC. If there is something of material risk to your company, you should not be waiting on timelines,” said Chowdhury. “The only reason these regulations are coming up is because these are risks that can significantly harm your company’s financial strength, your company’s sustainability. So, are you ready for this?”