What to look for in the SEC’s groundbreaking climate rules

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images News via Getty Images

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

(Bill Sternberg is a veteran Washington journalist and former editorial page editor of USA Today.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Callaway Climate Insights) — President Joe Biden’s climate agenda is stalling like an electric vehicle with a dead battery. His $555 billion package of clean energy tax incentives is on life support in Congress. The Supreme Court is weighing whether to block his administration’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The fossil fuel lobby and its congressional allies just torpedoed one of his Federal Reserve nominees. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shifted the prevailing political winds from leave-the-oil-in-the-ground to pump-as-much-as-you-can.

Stymied on several fronts, climate activists and environmentally conscious investors are turning toward the Securities and Exchange Commission, which oversees U.S. financial markets and for the past year has been soliciting input on what corporations should have to report about climate change.

There’s no shortage of opinions: The agency received more than 500 comments, spanning the spectrum from the Sierra Club to the National Mining Association. Now the commission is poised to vote tomorrow — Monday, March 21 — on a groundbreaking proposal to mandate, for the first time, that publicly traded companies disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and the risks they face from a changing climate.

“It’s an enormous deal,” Steven Rothstein, founding managing director of the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets, said in an interview with Callaway Climate Insights. “To begin to put a system in place that will have a standardized climate disclosure for publicly traded companies is critical. Investors have been asking for this. Customers have been asking for this. The market needs it.”. . .

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