Warren wants companies to disclose more about climate change impacts

Warren wants companies to disclose more about climate change impacts
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Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCOVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick MORE (D-Mass.) wants to require corporations to disclose to the public and investors about how much they are contributing to climate change and what risks it causes their businesses.

Warren, seen as a likely presidential candidate in 2020, has largely built her political career on pushing progressive policies on corporate accountability, like her role launching the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

She proposed the Climate Risk Disclosure Act Friday to raise public awareness of how dependent companies are on fossil fuels and how the effects of climate change could hurt them.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would dictate the exact rules, but Warren’s bill spells out sweeping standards for the disclosures, including companies’ greenhouse gas emissions, their fossil fuel holdings, how climate policies would impact them and how climate effects like rising sea levels could hurt them.

“Climate change is a real and present danger — and it will have an enormous effect on the value of company assets,” Warren said in a statement.

“Investors need more information about climate-related risks so they can make the right decisions with their money,” she said. “Our bill will use market forces to speed up the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy — reducing the odds of an environmental and financial disaster without spending a dime of taxpayer money.”

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Many big companies such as oil giants Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP already make some public disclosures about their climate impacts and risks. But Warren's bill would expand those and mandate them.

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The legislation is very unlikely to pass while Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House.

But it nonetheless provides a clear statement of Warren’s policy position on corporate America’s role in climate change ahead of the 2020 campaign season, and potentially how she would seek to steer SEC policy as president.

The legislation has the support of former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreCNN coronavirus town hall to feature science author David Quammen, 'Empire' actress Taraji Henson Top Democratic pollster advised Biden campaign to pick Warren as VP Melania Trump to appear on CNN coronavirus town hall Thursday night MORE and environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace USA.

“Our addiction to fossil fuels has led to a ballooning sub-prime carbon bubble that threatens to strand assets in every sector of the American economy. Sen. Warren clearly understands this and is demonstrating strong leadership by introducing legislation to assess the financial risks of climate change and require that they be disclosed to the public,” Gore said in a statement.

Greens and Democrats have in recent years ramped up their efforts to increase corporate accountability for climate change and hold fossil fuel companies and their investors responsible.

Those efforts have largely focused on the courts, including lawsuits against big oil companies. But the cases have had, at best, mixed results in punishing firms.