The General Accounting Office, the investigative branch of the U.S. Congress, will meet with regulators from the Security and Exchange Commission next week to discuss whether companies sufficiently disclose environmental risks to shareholders. The meeting was prompted by concerns from Sens. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), and Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) about corporate liability for environmental problems, especially when it comes to energy companies. Such companies produce significant amounts of greenhouse gases, thereby contributing to global warming, an environmental problem that could cost the world $300 billion annually by the middle of the century, according to the German reinsurance giant Munich Re. If that prediction is even close to accurate, companies could face major financial losses. Lawmakers, environmentalists, and shareholder advocates increasingly believe the potential for such losses should be revealed to the public.
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