Investors Call for Companies to Disclose Climate Risk

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What will climate change cost the US economy? To date, the political debate has been fixated almost exclusively on fears that carbon regulations will impose heavy burdens on American companies. But what about the costs that companies will incur if climate change continues unabated? Or the new opportunities that a carbon cap may create for some businesses, such as firms that make windmills or solar panels? Faced with a lack of reliable analysis of the full costs and benefits of both climate change and climate policies, a group of major investors wants the Securities and Exchange Commission to step in. On Monday, the investors wrote to the SEC asking the agency to come up with guidelines to help businesses properly account for climate-related factors that will affect their bottom lines.

The letter was signed by 20 institutional investors from the US and Canada who represent $1 trillion in assets. Signatories include the state treasurers from Oregon, North Carolina, Connecticut, Maryland and Vermont, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, the Environmental Defense Fund, Ceres, a sustainable business coalition, and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the biggest public pension fund in the US. “CalPERS protects workers’ retirement benefits, and climate change poses both great risks and opportunities to these investments,” said CalPERS CEO Anne Stausboll in a statement. “The SEC should strengthen and enforce its current requirements so investors’ decisions fully account for climate change’s financial effects.”

Last month, the SEC issued new rules at the behest of Ceres and investor groups that require companies to disclose how climate regulation could affect their earnings, if investors request such information. But most companies haven’t even started to assess these potential financial risks, in part because the tools for doing are still in their infancy. This latest investor request is an attempt to hurry up the process of ensuring that clmate change is factored into every company’s balance sheet—and a sure sign that business leaders and investors believe some kind of climate regulation is coming, and coming soon.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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