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Canadian Sustainability Standards Board proposes Canadian Sustainability Disclosure Standards

On March 13, 2024, the Canadian Sustainability Standards Board (CSSB) released its first proposed Canadian Sustainability Disclosure Standards for public comment – Exposure Drafts General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Disclosure Standard (CSDS 1) and Climate-related Disclosures (CSDS 2, collectively with CSDS1, the “CSSB Standards”).

The proposed CSSB Standards substantially align with the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) IFRS S1 and S2 standards (collectively, the “ISSB Standards”) – which are designed to serve as the global baseline for comprehensive, comparable and consistent reporting of climate-related disclosure – with minor modifications to address Canadian circumstances, primarily to extend the timeline for compliance and provide additional transition relief through a lengthier phase-in for Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions disclosures. For more information on the ISSB Standards, please refer to our in-depth analysis here.

The public consultation period for the CSSB standards will remain open until June 10, 2024, with the CSSB seeking feedback on the following topics:

Timing of reporting

Under the ISSB Standards, an entity is required to provide sustainability reports concurrently with any related financial statements. Some Canadian respondents to the ISSB’s consultation expressed concern with this requirement and the CSSB is seeking additional clarity on its implementation.

Scenario analysis

Scenario analysis, which tests the climate change resiliency of entities, has been the subject of much debate. The CSSB is consulting on whether transition relief and/or guidance would be helpful to entities in conducting scenario analysis.

Scope 3 GHG Emissions

The CSSB is also requesting feedback on whether the proposed transition relief period is sufficient for entities to prepare for reporting Scope 3 GHG emissions.

The CSSB expects final CSSB Standards to be published before the end of 2024.

Amendments to the ISSB Standards

When drafting the CSSB Standards, the CSSB made minimal revisions to the ISSB Standards, with noteworthy amendments made with the aim to provide Canadian entities with additional time for compliance. The changes are as follows:

Effective date

The CSSB Standards extend the effective date of application of the CSDS 1 and CSDS 2 requirements for annual reporting periods from January 1, 2024 to January 1, 2025, granting Canadian companies one additional year to prepare for implementation.

Transition relief for disclosures beyond climate-related risks and opportunities

The transition relief for disclosures beyond climate-related risks and opportunities (in accordance with CSDS 2) has been extended by one additional year.

Comparative Information

The requirement for entities to disclose comparative information on sustainability related risks and opportunities, excluding those linked to climate, have also been extended for one additional year.

Transition relief for disclosures of Scope 3 GHG emissions

The transition relief for disclosures of Scope 3 GHG emissions has been extended by one additional year. This extension permits entities adopting the CSDS 2 standard to omit disclosures related to Scope 3 GHG emissions for its first two annual reporting periods.

Key differences between the CSSB Standards and the SEC and CSA frameworks

The proposed CSSB Standards demonstrate a more rigorous approach to mandatory climate-related disclosures compared to the framework proposed by Canada’s securities regulators in October 2021 and the recently published final climate-related financial disclosure rules of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The CSSB Standards closely mirror the ISSB Standards. Echoing the ISSB Standards, CSDS 2 works in conjunction with CSDS 1 to offer (i) specific requirements for climate-related disclosures, including mandatory reporting of Scopes 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions, (ii) the extent of assets’ and business operations’ vulnerability to climate impacts, and (iii) the reporting of quantitative and qualitative information such as capital expenditure, financing and investments deployed addressing climate-related risks and opportunities. Moreover, CSDS 2 would require mandatory scenario analysis gauging entities’ resilience to climate change.

By contrast, the recently published final SEC climate-related disclosure rules (please refer to our in-depth analysis here) opted not to compel Scope 3 GHG emission reporting. Companies will instead disclose climate-related risks that have financial materiality, including risks that may occur in the company’s value chain.

Similarly, under the Canadian Securities Administrators’ (CSA) proposed National Instrument 51-107 Disclosure of Climate-related Matters (the “proposed instrument”), the approach to disclosure allowed for more discretion. Under one of the potential options, companies would only be required to disclose Scope 1 or direct GHG emissions. Companies also have the choice to omit GHG emission data altogether if justified by the company.

While, the CSA has currently put a “pause” on the implementation of the proposed instrument, it is actively seeking insights informed by the CSSB’s public consultation on the CSSB Standards (see CSA’s public statement on CSSB Standards). For the CSSB Standards to become mandatory for any Canadian entity, a Canadian regulator such as the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions or the CSA must adopt the CSSB Standards.

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McCarthy Tétrault has a leading multidisciplinary ESG and Sustainability team. We are especially well-equipped to provide clients with a full suite of advice and support to assist them in integrating ESG and Sustainability thinking and reporting into their organizational DNA. With a robust understanding of business, industry, and market drivers, we can deliver contextualized advice and guidance. Please contact the authors or any member of our ESG and Sustainability group to learn more – we would be happy to assist you.



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