Companies Not Disclosing Climate Risks: Studies
Author: Timothy Gardner
The Valero St. Charles oil refinery is seen during a tour of the refinery in Norco, Louisiana in this August 15, 2008 file photo.
Photo: /Shannon Stapleton
NEW YORK - Most global industrial companies that emit a lot of greenhouse gases are not adequately detailing their climate strategies in U.S. financial filings, two studies by environmental and investment groups showed on Wednesday.
The groups that released the studies called on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to provide more guidance to companies on how to put climate-related disclosures in financial filings.
"As the nation responds to the challenges of global warming, investors have a right to know which businesses are forging innovative solutions for the 21st century and which are lagging behind," Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp said in a release.
The SEC said it intends to work on the issue after completing work on an unrelated item.
"This is an area of great interest and we intend to focus on it once we have completed work on the corporate compensation disclosure proposals," said SEC spokesman John Nester.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tracks emissions of carbon dioxide from industry, but investors say they want to know more about corporate strategies to reduce pollution from other planet-warming gasses as well as carbon dioxide.
Investors say they need information from energy and industrial companies because the United States, the world's No. 2 greenhouse gas polluter after China, is beginning to form policies that will for the first time put a price on emitting the gases.
A climate bill that would require the country to cut emissions 17 percent by 2020 is working its way through the House of Representatives. President Barack Obama also supports cutting greenhouse gas pollution through a market mechanism such as a cap-and-trade market on the emissions.
But investors say companies have been slow to disclose their strategies.
"Corporate climate disclosure falls far short of what CalPERS and other investors need to carry out their fiduciary duties," said Anne Stausboll, chief executive officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the nation's largest public pension fund.
In 2008, for instance, 59 out of 100 companies in sectors like oil and natural gas, coal and utilities did not mention their greenhouse gas emissions or public position on climate change, according to one of the studies, prepared by The Corporate Library for Ceres, a group of investors and environmentalists, and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
Another study by the Center for Energy and Environmental Security, Ceres, and EDF, showed that only 5 percent of S&P 500 companies mapped out a strategy for managing climate-related risks in their annual reports.
(Editing by David Gregorio)