Pressure is building on companies to disclose more information about their climate-related risks, but it remains to be seen whether such calls will actually pose a burden for more than a handful of isolated companies.
Since a landmark Supreme Court decision in2007, which held that greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles pollute the air and that the Environmental Protection Agency must therefore regulate such emissions, the number of climate change-related lawsuits against public companies has been growing.
Recent years also have brought a growing number of governmental actions and shareholder lawsuits against companies, or their directors and officers, alleging environmental-related disclosure failures.
But for the most part, these actions have not charged companies specifically with climate change-related disclosure inadequacies, notes William Passannante, co-chair of the insurance recovery practice at law firm Anderson Kill.
But are these cases one-offs — or, as it were, two-offs? Or at least, will we see such actions anywhere but New York, where the attorney general is given extraordinary powers and discretion in fighting financial fraud?
But there is a potential for additional litigation, says Passannante: “There haven’t been lots of lawsuits hanging their hat on the SEC’s guidance [on climate change-related disclosure issued in 2010]. But when a state attorney general says the kind of things in a press release that were said about Peabody Energy, it makes you pause and wonder whether these sorts of subpoenas and settlements are going to happen to companies in other industries.”
To read the article: Battles Brew over Climate Risk Disclosure