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Going public with climate-change risks

Jeremy Hobson Oct 31, 2007


Doug Krizner: Companies are being affected by climate change. But should investors be warned about the financial consequences?

A congressional panel takes a look today. From Washington, Jeremy Hobson has more.

Jeremy Hobson: On one side is Mindy Lubber, the president of Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmentalists. She’ll testify to Congress today that the Securities and Exchange Commission isn’t doing its job.

Mindy Lubber: Right now, the law says that the SEC should require publicly-traded companies to disclose any material risk. For dozens of industries, climate change creates that risk.

For instance, she says, the impact of mega-hurricanes on insurance companies. Or the impact of carbon caps on power companies planning to build coal plants.

But Rajeev Dhawan, an economic forecaster at Georgia State University, says the risk can’t be easily quantified.

Rajeev Dhawan: Climate change is governed by so many different things. So it should not be the responsibility of the company. The investors have to do their due diligence.

Whatever Congress does, Mindy Lubber is hedging her bets. She’ll meet with the SEC about the issue in December.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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