When it comes to ESG investing in the U.S., the question of how much influence the incoming Biden administration can wield with a narrowly divided Senate may take some time to answer, but sustainability advocates are not waiting.
Instead, they vow to push harder than ever for U.S. regulators to up their game on everything from ESG disclosure by companies to ESG investing in retirement accounts.
So far, the Securities and Exchange Commission has resisted mandating specific reporting on ESG issues. But Commissioner Allison Herren Lee, a possible candidate for chairwoman under the Biden administration, expects that to change, with more reporting on climate change, diversity and worker safety likely to be required of companies.
Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., said to be a possible contender for SEC chairman, already staked a claim for more ESG investing disclosure by retirement plan fiduciaries by co-sponsoring two bills, the Sustainable Investment Policies Act and the Retirees Sustainable Investment Policies Act, calling for more participant input and more details of how fiduciaries consider ESG factors in investment decisions.
Groups like the Center for American Progress will also be pressing regulators at the SEC and the Department of Labor to require investment fiduciaries to adopt and publicly disclose how they address ESG-related risks, undoing some restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.