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Apple, Amazon Among Firms Ignoring SEC Climate Risk Rule

AppleApple and Amazon are among the nearly 75 percent of US publicly traded companies ignoring a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that they inform investors of climate-related risks, Inside Climate News reports.

The news agency says Lawrence Taylor, a 72-year-old retired database developer and entrepreneur, culled data from annual reports of 3,895 US public companies listed on major stock exchanges and found that only 27 percent mentioned “climate change” or “global warming” in their most recent filing.

Apple and Amazon are also among the companies that did not respond to CDP’s request for emissions, according to the CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013, released earlier this month.

The SEC rule, approved in January 2010, mandates that publicly traded companies must warn investors about any serious risks from climate change to their operations.

Taylor tells Inside Climate News that he’s working to make the searchable database of climate risk disclosure more user-friendly and plans to publish it on his website, DecisionFacts.org, in the coming months.

Ceres also plans to release a database later this year comparing how thousands of companies disclose climate risk in financial documents, the news agency says.

The Ceres-led Investor Network on Climate Risk earlier this year proposed that companies listed on US and global stock exchanges be required to include a series of environmental, social and governance sustainability disclosures in their annual financial filings.

The group of investors, which includes BlackRock, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and the AFL-CIO Office of Investment, drafted a proposal that calls for companies to disclose an ESG materiality assessment process, a sustainability table of disclosures that would map the locations of ESG content in public documents, and ESG reporting on eight key issues.

A majority of investors view climate change as a material risk and as a consequence have retained — and in many cases advanced — their commitment to addressing climate change in their investment activities, according to research published last month by consultant Mercer.

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3 thoughts on “Apple, Amazon Among Firms Ignoring SEC Climate Risk Rule

  1. The caption of this article is unfortunately misleading and Mr. Taylor’s conclusions are way off base. The SEC does not require all publicly-listed companies to discuss climate risk, but rather offers guidance as to how to determine if such risk is material (a term of art). Apple and Amazon have direct emissions that are a mere fraction of those of a single electric utility. While investors may desire more disclosure, there is a considerable difference between voluntary disclosures (such as CDP reporting) and mandated, legall-required SEC disclosure.

  2. I understand the distinction Mr./Ms. Klafter is making, but in my mind it’s somewhat immaterial. What this data (not the interpretation) underscores is that the large majority of publicly traded companies do not view issues of Sustainability, including climate change, as material to their business and therefore do not organize for or act on Sustainability issues and initiatives in a strategic way. They continue to be peripheral matters to the business that are dealt with in a fragmented manner. This is the core challenge we face.

  3. Those that DO disclose are “the usual suspects”, i.e., large producers and consumers of energy. But these companies are in the supply chain of virtually every company that did not disclose. Companies need to assess their operations, supply chains and markets for material risks related to climate change. These could include physical risks, regulatory risks and “other” risks per the SEC guidance. The previous comments are correct: the SEC did not introduce new rules, but rather issued guidance on how climate change should be incorporated into complying with existing rules. Even if a company does not comply with these rules, enforcement is rare and consequences are limited.

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