According to Pensions & Investments, we are seeing a greater number of climate change-related disclosures by companies across sectors, as recommended by the FSB Task Force. Companies continue to take disparate approaches to the content and scope of disclosure. Importantly, the article notes: “While many companies describe climate-related risks and opportunities, few disclose the financial impacts of climate change on their firms.” Clarity on the effect of climate change on firm performance will be essential to a fiduciary’s determination that climate change has a material effect on investment performance for purposes of its duties of prudence and loyalty under ERISA. The DOL’s recent guidance on ESG investing confirms the need to have this clear link in mind and the supporting documentation in hand. Connecting the dots will be imperative.
George Michael Gerstein advises financial institutions on the fiduciary and prohibited transaction provisions of ERISA. As co-chair of the fiduciary governance group, he assists clients with tracking, and understanding, the numerous fiduciary developments at the federal and state levels, including the rules and regulations of governmental plans. He also advises clients with respect to the fiduciary duty implications of ESG investing.