It’s good to confess all my eco-sins, like I do, and to explore remedial actions. It’s good, and it can only go so far. Higher up in the decision chain, are investors in corporations. These people have tremendous power to influence big business environmental decisions. They can vote with their wallets, and decide which companies get funded. Today’s New York Times has this article in the Business Section, about ‘Gas Emissions Rarely Figure in Investors Decisions’:
Corporations have become better about disclosing their greenhouse gas emissions and somewhat better about curbing them. But few investors are using that information to decide where to put their money. That was the gist of the fifth annual report of the Carbon Disclosure Project, a nonprofit group that monitors corporate disclosure related to climate change. The group, which gathers its data through surveys, represents 315 institutional investors that manage a total of $41 trillion in assets. “Large companies are finally taking their jackets off, rolling up their sleeves and examining how they use energy and otherwise deal with climate change,” said Paul Dickinson, chief executive of the project. . . But there was little agreement among companies within industries on the effect of climate change . . . More troubling to the project’s executives, though, is that few companies include climate-related data in their filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The result, the report said, is that the ramifications of climate change have not yet translated into “concrete investment decisions of any scale.”
The reports also cites the issue of the reliability of the information provided by corporations. Currently there is no independent body to verify the information provided to investors. None of this stuff is sexy, but given the tremendous power of investors to influence corporate environmental policies, it may be a good idea to legislate the whole process. First step should be that companies collect mandatory climate-related data. Second, data should be verified by independent body. Third, companies should be mandated to include climate-related data in their SEC filing.