In the end, Monday's Capitol Hill photo-op for the green side turned out to be a broad, nationwide public relations/lobbying effort to urge federal powers in Washington, DC, to frame a national response to global warming. Twelve states, 20 financial services firms and a dozen each of foundations and business leaders comprised 65 signatories to a "call to action" in the nation's capital.
Among the steps being urged are an expansion of financial materiality reporting requirements to include companies' annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the establishment of mandatory GHG emission limits together with a market-based trading system of emissions credits.
"Investors and companies are asking Washington, DC, to set a clear policy direction to address the risks of climate change," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a private-sector nonprofit running the Investor Network on Climate Risk. "The greatest climate risk facing investors and business is the uncertainty caused by the absence of U.S. policy [on global warming]."
Among those signing the petition to Congress and the White House were the CEOs of Alcoa Inc., BP America, Consolidated Edison Inc., Dupont, Exelon Corp., Green Mountain Coffee, Green Mountain Power, Interface Inc., National Grid, PG&E Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Ted Turner of Turner Enterprises.
Institutional investor holdings totaling more than $4 trillion were represented in the consortium.
The specifics of the call to Congress and the White House are:
Connecticut was among a dozen states represented. State Treasurer Denise Nappier said the state's pension funds and other institutional investors expect what she called "a thorough analysis of all significant business liabilities [including environmental baggage].
"Leading companies have already made progress working to not only assess and report the risks posed by climate change, but to also set in place strategic plans to foster future growth and success," Nappier said. "In the face of mounting evidence demonstrating the economic implications of climate change, we strongly urge the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] to acknowledge it as a material consideration and require all companies to disclose its impact to shareholders."
While investors, businesses, states and local government for the most part have turned the corner on addressing GHG emissions and the broad implications of global warming, they cannot make a global impact without national policies and programs, the coalition members stressed.
"States and local governments, no matter how aggressive, can only do so much," said California Treasurer Bill Lockyer. "To effectively combat global warming, we need action on a national scale."
Other states joining the push on Capitol Hill were: California, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
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