ClimateWire reports that what a company says about climate change depends on who it is talking to.
When issuing marketing materials and press releases, U.S. companies frequently warn that rising global temperatures could cost them money. They tout specific green projects, like solar roofs and increased efficiency. But when it comes time to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the same companies stick to broad terminology and sanded-down statements.
Take Target Corp., which outlined some of its efforts to become more climate-friendly in its 2015 sustainability report: solar panels, smart-grid technology, low-power stores, recycling programs and a recent pledge made at the White House to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Or IBM, which issued a detailed climate report last year, too, telling a nonprofit that energy efficiency standards for computer products present a “high” financial cost that would be “virtually certain” to affect the tech giant within a year.
Even though information for both companies is publicly available—and could sway someone from buying or selling Target or IBM stock—none of it is on file at the SEC.
And the imbalance is widespread.
A ClimateWire examination of corporate documents, congressional audits and independent reports, along with interviews with investors, former SEC employees and congressional staffers, shows a disparity in what companies say about climate change and where they say it.