Coalition Petitions SEC to Force Corporate Climate Disclosure

Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense, is advocating for corporate environmental responsibility.© Environmental Defense

Environmental groups, including Environmental Defense, CERES and Friends of the Earth, joined with foundations, concerned investors and state officials from across the country in filing a landmark petition last week asking the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require publicly traded companies to assess and fully disclose their financial risks related to climate change. The 22 petitioners cite unequivocal scientific evidence along with widespread business recognition that the risks and opportunities corporations face as a result of climate change are material to shareholder investment decisions and should be disclosed under existing law.

The petition holds forth that climate risks and opportunities—such as physical risks associated with climate change that affect a company’s operations or financial condition, financial risks and opportunities associated with present or probable greenhouse gas regulation, and legal proceedings relating to climate change—are just as relevant to investors as other types of information corporations must already disclose by law.

"Smart companies know that profits and jobs come from solving problems, not ignoring them," says Fred Krupp, president of the nonprofit Environmental Defense and a leading advocate for corporate environmental accountability. "Investors have a right to know who is paying attention."

In addition to the environmental groups, the petitioners include leading institutional investors in the U.S. and Europe overseeing more than $1.5 trillion in assets, including California’s Public Employees" Retirement System and State Teachers" Retirement System, Pax World Management Corporation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. State treasurers from California, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as New York State’s comptroller and attorney general, and Florida’s chief financial officer, also signed onto the petition.

Sources: Environmental Defense; Ceres