I know. I know. Securities and Exchange Commission: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. But the SEC did something sort of landmark last January: in a 3-2 vote, commissioners approved guidelines that urge companies to regularly disclose climate change-related risks (and opportunities) to investors. If you’re a big box store importing underwear from China, or an insurance company indemnifying coastal businesses, you’ll have to start accounting for the carbon cost of all that transportation, or the projected rise in global sea levels. We’re not talking laws here, just guidelines. But the SEC’s decision should make corporate America take climate change more seriously, and it may even push American businesses and investors — and the rest of us — to start thinking long-term again, a nice ability to rediscover if we ever hope to combat climate change. We’ve convened some heavy hitters to weigh in on what happens next.
Listen to the audio from the panel discussion here. Click here for the full transcript.
Kristen A. Sheeran
Executive Director at Economics for Equity and the Environment Network
“Environmental risks have largely been absent from long-term planning because we’ve been rooted in a mindset that’s shorter, and that believes we’ll be able to adapt with a more prosperous economy and investment in technological changes. That mindset is changing, and this ruling is a clear indication of that shift.”
Fellow, Campaign for America’s Future
“Accepting limits is a very new thing for Americans. But the average American feels that the crazy days are over and we have to get serious about how make it through the winter. We are gathering ourselves to live in a world with more limits.”
Julie Fox Gorte
Senior Vice President for Sustainable Investing at Pax World Management LLC.
“I do think corporations can lead. A few have. And corporations are going to have to lead if we’re going to be able to live on this planet.”