Vargas pushes for broader ESG disclosure: ‘The good, the bad, and the ugly’

Greg Nash

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) on Thursday pushed for mandatory corporate reporting of environmental, social and governance information as investor demand soars.

Vargas, speaking at The Hill’s The ESG Ecosystem event, said most large companies are reporting some of such metrics, but he expressed concern that the disclosures are selective without industry-wide reporting requirements 

“Let’s do it in an objective way, let’s look at everything,” Vargas told The Hill’s Steve Clemons. “The good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Vargas introduced the ESG Disclosure Simplification Act in February to mandate companies report ESG information to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The bill passed the House with razor-thin margins in June, with all Republicans and four Democrats voting against the measure. 

“There’s a lot of Senate allies looking at this, and ultimately, I don’t know,” Vargas said of the bill’s fate.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has taken interest in ramping up enforcement of climate-related rules in his first months on the job. The agency had launched a climate and ESG enforcement task force earlier this year just prior to Gensler’s confirmation.

“I’ve also asked staff to consider the ways that funds are marketing themselves to investors as sustainable, green, and ‘ESG’ and what factors undergird those claims,” Gensler said in June, CNBC reported.

Vargas said the SEC would determine the exact metrics to track under the bill.

“Gensler’s a great guy and I trust him very much, and I would like to see him push hard on this,” he said.

Vargas added that the demand for more ESG reporting is also being fueled by investors, who have shown increasing interest in portfolios that fit certain ESG standards.

“It’s the right thing to do, but investors want to know,” Vargas said.

Tags Gary Gensler Juan Vargas

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