Friday, January 29, 2010

How will carbon screw up your life?

Don't worry, the feds are on the case.

Yeah, it kind of makes sense investors would like to know if too much methane is going to break them, but now federal regulators will be watching to make sure they know.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission gave publicly traded companies “interpretive guidance” on Wednesday, telling the businesses they will have to disclose to investors how climate change might affect their bottom line. I don't know how much pain and suffering comes if you're a violator, but it sounds bad.

But investors don’t have enough to worry about, oh, like losing all their money because of greedy, arrogant risk takers or borderline criminals. Now they need the enforcers to look out for cow farts raising ocean levels and flooding the condo they invested in or whether the coal-fired utility they have shares in will get big-time fines for pumping out too much carbon.

The guidance is the first economy-wide climate risk disclosure requirement in the world, according to a group of environmentalists like green-minded investors at Ceres and the Environmental Defense Fund.

“The lack of specific guidance until now has resulted in weak and inconsistent climate-related disclosure by public companies” they said in a news release.

“Today’s vote is a clarion call about the vast risks and opportunities climate change poses for US companies and the urgency for integrating them into investment decision making,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a network of 80 institutional investors with $8 trillion in collective assets. “The business risks of climate change cannot be ignored. With this guidance investors can make more sound decisions based on better information – and businesses will have a level-playing field with clear standards and expectations for disclosure.”

Feel better?

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