California has passed a Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, which requires US-based companies with more than US$1bn in annual revenues that do business in the state to publicly disclose their Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions in their annual reports. The datapoints cover direct, indirect and value chain emissions, and reporting will be phased in from 2026. California’s GDP in 2022 was US$3.6 trillion, representing 14.3% of the total US economy, and many major companies trade in the state.
Meanwhile, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is continuing to assess its proposals to establish US sustainability reporting rules, with members of the US Congress split on how the SEC should proceed. Some Republican representatives have called for more cost-benefit analysis on the proposals, which suggest US corporations report Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Democrats, meanwhile, have called on the SEC to stick to this model, given the Californian legislation.
Planned revisions to the sector-specific sustainability reporting standards initially developed by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) have been released by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) for assessment. The ISSB is now responsible for administering and amending SASB standards and will not be seeking comments on the amendments. It plans to ratify the changes in December 2023.
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) will explore targeted actions to improve the reporting of climate-related and other uncertainties in the financial statements. This may include developing educational materials, illustrative examples and amendments to IFRS accounting standards to improve the application of existing requirements.
The international Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) has released 14 recommendations for nature-related risk management and disclosure. They are designed to help companies and capital providers improve their understanding of their potential impact on nature. They are consistent with ISSB and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards, and are being incorporated into the new European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS).
The European Financial Reporting Action Group (Efrag) has called for tenders to help develop a cost-benefit analysis for its draft European Sustainability Reporting Standard for listed SMEs, small non-complex credit institutions and captive insurers/reinsurers (LSME); and for its voluntary ESRS for non-listed SMEs (VSME).
The IASB has issued amendments to IFRS for SMEs, bringing the accounting standard into line with its amendments to IAS 12, Income Taxes, issued in May 2023 to comply with the OECD Pillar Two rules on minimum tax takes. The changes give SMEs temporary relief from accounting for deferred taxes arising from Pillar Two rules, and require SMEs to evaluate the impact of Pillar Two’s income tax consequences.
The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) has released its 2023 handbook on the international code of ethics for professional accountants. It includes revisions to the definition of engagement team and group audits, and to allowable cooling-off periods for long associations of personnel with audit clients.
The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) has released amendments to its audit standards ISA 700 (revised), Forming an Opinion and Reporting on Financial Statements, and ISA 260 (revised), Communication with Those Charged with Governance. The move follows changes to the IESBA’s code of ethics, which requires firms to publicly disclose when auditors have applied its independence requirements when auditing public interest entities.
The IAASB has also released a 2022 edition of its handbook on international quality management, auditing, review, other assurance and related services. The new edition includes the board’s revised suite of quality management standards.
The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) has updated its conceptual framework underpinning IPSAS standards and recommended practice guidelines, amending chapter 3 on qualitative characteristics. The chapter now includes guidance on prudence and adds ‘obscuring information’ to ‘misstating’ and ‘omitting’ information as a factor relevant to materiality judgments.