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Corporate America needs to level with investors on climate change

Corporate America needs to level with investors on climate change

The Securities and Exchange Commission should establish minimum carbon-related disclosure requirements for all publicly traded companies.

Billions of dollars of commitments have been made by corporations to reduce carbon emissions. But without reliable and comparable corporate disclosures, investors will be unable to make informed judgments about the consequences for the value of their investments. To protect investors and to promote efficient capital markets, the Securities and Exchange Commission needs to establish minimum standards for carbon-related disclosures.

Ninety percent of the companies in the S&P 500 now issue “sustainability” reports. More than a trillion dollars of “green” bonds have been issued, almost $270 billion last year.

A third of the assets under management in the United States are now said to be “sustainable” investments. But in the absence of minimum corporate disclosure standards, investors face the risk of being unable to recognize corporate “greenwashing” hyperbole with the result that market prices will be unable to reflect investors’ views on the costs and benefits of reducing carbon – and our markets will fail to allocate capital efficiently.

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