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Doesn't the SEC have better things to do right now?

On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted "to require that companies disclose in their public filings the impact of climate change on their businesses -- from new regulations or legislation they may face domestically or abroad to potential changes in economic trends or physical risks to a company."

The vote was party line, with the three Democratic appointees backing the measure and the two Republicans opposing it. I'm with the Republicans on this one. This seems like a massive subsidy to charlatans who'll draw up reports projecting the risk of climate change to an individual company's bottom line -- an estimate that will be so comically uncertain as to be totally useless. The fact that we need to do things to make the public more aware of the dangers posed by climate change does not mean we need to do anything that might make the public more aware of the dangers posed by climate change. And this seems to fall firmly in that latter category.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 28, 2010; 11:03 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Comments

There must be a typo in your next-to-last sentence. Did you mean "climate change legislation" at the end?

Posted by: dk10024 | January 28, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, you're wrong on this one. Of course Monsanto, Exxon, UPS, and Coca-Cola are spending a great deal of time and money trying to figure out how climate change and associated legislation will impact them. Today they simply don't have to inform their shareholders.

You have see the context of a multi-decade effort by shareholders (many of them faith groups, unions, or public pension funds) which have pushed corporations to see climate change as a real threat: they are responsible for the split in the Chamber of the issue.

This ruling strengthens their hands substantially, and it is right on the merits.

Posted by: Dan_R | January 28, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand your next-to-last sentence at all. The two things are exactly the same, you use the exact same words. I can't even figure out what you meant to say.

Posted by: willow8300 | January 28, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised the Republicans were quick to vote against this one. Because, if the businesses are anti-climate change legislation, they could easily use the requirement as an excuse to suggest that Cap and Trade will put them out of business.

It seems likely that Monsanto and Exxon and UPS would argue that climate change *legislation* will negatively impact their bottom line, cost jobs, and so on. Is that really the kind of expansion of climate change awareness advocates are looking for?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 28, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

An estimate of the impact of climate change would not be radical compared to other uncertain things companies need to guess about now (e.g., whether a pricy acquisition has gone so far south that a huge chunk of goodwill needs to be written down). Investors would benefit from knowing the relative exposure of different firms. The "charlatans" making the projections would not be doing anything that would make a CBO analyst blush.

Posted by: daltonc | January 28, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Gosh -- I actually thought this one was a rare accomplishment for behavioral economics. Nothing unfogs the mind of a capitalist like potential threats to profit. And having undermined deference to science among the proles, they need their own fog pushed aside and some anxiety revived.

Posted by: janinsanfran | January 28, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Ezra, you're dangerously clueless. Climate change threatens the extinction of 25-40 percent of all species on the planet, and you don't think it should be considered a material risk?

Posted by: ABHFGTY | January 28, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Are you a reporter? How old are you? Is the Washington Post really paying you to tell us what you think?

Posted by: jonathaneisen99 | January 29, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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