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OPINIONFinancing

SEC wants public restaurant companies to give a farm-to-fork carbon assessment

The financial securities watchdog is considering disclosure requirements that go beyond what industry lobbyists say is feasible.

The SEC is eying regulatory changes that would force public restaurant companies to provide investors with detailed information about the corporations’ climate-repair efforts.

The National Restaurant Association is trying to convince champions of the change that their goal can be realized without the sweeping disclosure requirement the new rules would impose. Aaron Frazier, VP of public policy for the association, explains the industry’s policy-shaping counteroffensive during this week’s edition of Working Lunch, the podcast for political-minded members of the industry.

Frazier did not disparage the SEC’s aim of providing investors with enough information to decide what climate improvements an investment candidate intends to pursue. With a clear account of those plans, portfolio managers could reward climate protectors with their investment dollars.

“The SEC says, ‘Okay, we need more information. So we’re going to set up some really complicated metrics so every investor gets to see it,’” Frazier told Working Week co-hosts Joe Kefauver and Franklin Coley of Align Public Strategies, a government-affairs agency. “’And we’re going to mandate it, and we’re going to do it really soon.’”

Frazier explained that the SEC has been leaning toward disclosure requirements that would force public restaurant companies to assess their carbon footprint by starting all the way back on the ranch that supplied their burgers.

“What sort of cow did it come from? What sort of grass did it eat?” said Frazier. “We’re now being asked to put in the entire value chain.”

He told Kefauver and Coley that the industry can push back on that thinking from a position of strength, a result of the business’ efforts to be more environmentally responsible in recent years.

“If this was 10 years ago, restaurants would be in a tougher spot,” said Frazier. “We as an industry have made really terrific strides to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Download the episode and every installment of Working Lunch from wherever you get your podcasts.

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