Big Business 'Failing to Disclose Climate Risks' to Investors

Published on
by
The Guardian/UK

Big Business 'Failing to Disclose Climate Risks' to Investors

Leading companies are offering only minimal information to shareholders on how global warming might affect their bottom line, research shows

by
Suzanne Goldenberg

The world's major corporations are failing to provide a full account to investors of the risks and potential costs of climate change, a new report said today.

The
report, from the Ceres network of green organisations and investors and
the Environment Defence Fund, found companies offered only minimal
information to their shareholders last year on how global warming might
affect their bottom line..

It arrives at a time when there is growing support among US corporations for a push by Congress to pass the first US law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Fifty-nine
of the 100 leading global firms surveyed made no mention of greenhouse
gas emissions at all. Twenty eight did not discuss potential risks from
rising sea levels or other aspects of climate change. Fifty-two
provided no information on what steps they are taking to adapt to
climate change.

"These findings are strong evidence that
investors are not getting the infromation they need ... even from
industries facing clear, immediate risks from climate change," the
report said. Only a handful of the companies provided an adequate
account of the potential costs, it found - despite growing demands from
financial regulators to disclose the risks of climate change.

The
study by the Corporate Library analysis firm was based on information
provided by the firms to the US regulatory authority, the Securities
and Exchange Commission, in the first three months of 2008.

The
lack of disclosure was most striking in the insurance industry, the
report found. Despite evidence of the increasing severity of tropical
storms - and the huge spike in claims following Hurricane Katrina in
2005 - 18 of the 27 firms made no mention of climate change or related
risk in their financial disclosure forms.

Twenty-four of
the 27 companies failed to mention any actions taken to address global
warming -- even though the report said they were now opportunities for
insurance policies that factor in climate change.

Oil and
gas companies did not even provide the bare minimum of information on
climate risk, the study found. All but one of the 23 firms surveyed
received only a "poor" or "limited" grade in disclosing climate risks.
Seventeen of the companies gave no information on their emissions or
their positions on climate change. The report singled out Exxon Mobile,
Apache and Anadarko for weak disclosure.

Electricity firms
did only slightly better. Even so, only three of the 26 firms surveyed
gave an adequate assessment of the risks posed by climate change. Two
provided information about their attempts to address climate change.

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