Christine Robinson, partner, sustainability & ESG at Deloitte, participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITworks: 2022 Conference in La Quinta, California, on Sept. 12-13.
Robinson noted that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate rule comment period closed over the summer with more than 14,000 comment letters and that many people in the industry anticipate a final rule before the end of 2022.
Regarding the challenges that REITs will face in being able to meet the rule, Robinson said the part of the rule that includes greenhouse gas emissions accounting and reporting will mean a fundamental shift to the current process for many REITs.
“Also, part of the rule…hits inside the financial statements, and there’s not necessarily clear guidance within the rule itself to help companies ascertain what is a climate-related risk or transition risk,” she said. “[That will be] a long road to get there.”
To prepare for the SEC’s proposed climate rule now, REITs should begin with a gap analysis and then lean into updating and understanding greenhouse gas emissions, processes, and controls, Robinson said.
“REITs are doing that right now—they’re disclosing that information in their voluntary ESG reports,” she said. “But putting it in the 10-K [filings] kind of ups the stakes quite a bit.”