SEC Commissioner Allison Herren Lee writes about the inadequacy of the information investors get about climate change risk:
As the climate crisis intensifies, U.S. environmental policy has moved dangerously backward, with nearly 70 environmental rules reversed during this administration, and 30 more reversals in process. This intransigent, head-in-the-sand approach will not alter the reality of climate change, nor the risks and opportunities it presents the economy.
The private sector understands this. Many large businesses and their investors, recognizing the urgency of the threat, are already attempting to protect their assets and investments from climate risks. As some continue to publicly question the science, they are shifting their capital to prepare for a future low-carbon economy.
They know that a significant percentage of the U.S. equity market, as much as 93 percent by one estimate, is already exposed to harms from climate change, with this year’s intensified fire and hurricane seasons offering a devastating preview of more to come. Both investors and the broader public need clear information about how businesses are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, and how they are managing — or not managing — climate risks internally…
There is a misconception that securities laws already operate to produce enough climate risk information through existing broad requirements to disclose important or “material” information. If not, the argument goes, the S.E.C. will come after them. As a former S.E.C. enforcement lawyer who spent over a decade spotting failed and misleading disclosures, I can attest that enforcement of broad-based materiality requirements does not work with this kind of near-magical efficiency.