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Help is on the way for some HK-listed firms to help them comply with tough sustainability disclosure

Hong Kong-listed companies face risk assessment and data availability challenges in meeting impending tougher requirements for climate and sustainability disclosures, but regulators will offer relief and help, an exchange official said on Thursday.

Companies will soon be required to put numbers on the potential impact from extreme climate events like severe typhoons, rising sea levels and extreme heatwaves under standards proposed by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). The final guidelines are due early next year after the ISSB incorporates feedback from a market consultation completed in July.

Hong Kong’s bourse will take into account the resource limitations of small and medium-sized firms when upgrading disclosure rules after the ISSB publishes its standards, said Katherine Ng, head of policy and secretariat services of the listing division of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

“We are very cognisant of the fact that SMEs might have limited resources … It might not be proportional for them [hire many] consultants,” she told a forum organised by the Chamber of Hong Kong Listed Companies on Thursday.

Quantifying the potential financial impact from extreme climate events will be difficult, according to a senior executive from one of the city’s largest property firms.

“We are looking for guidance from different accounting bodies [and consultants] for advice, while doing some internal analysis,” Johnny Yu, adviser to chairman at Henderson Land Development said during the forum.

“If you talk to different experts you will get different answers, because they use different data sets … Market standardisation will be key going forward, so that everybody can [properly] understand our [ESG] report.” The standards are expected to find wide adoption internationally, including in Hong Kong and mainland China. Exactly how they will be implemented will be up to financial regulators across different jurisdictions.

Difficulty in collecting emission data from suppliers and customers is another challenge, said Andy Li, chief financial officer of garments manufacturer Crystal International Group.


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