Despite the recent drumbeat of high-profile corporate sustainability pledges since President Joe Biden’s election, corporate interest groups and influential leaders in the financial sector are scared about the potential for public policy that might hold them accountable, Politico reports. From groups historically opposed to climate action like the Chamber of Commerce to those like BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who has publicly called for action to fight climate change, the message is the same: everything should be voluntary, so companies can choose to do as little as possible. A patchwork of voluntary disclosure measures, however, would deprive investors of consistent metrics on which to evaluate businesses’, and thus their own, exposure to risks posed by climate change. Under the Biden administration, Democrats plan to push the SEC to implement climate risk disclosure rules requiring businesses to divulge more and standardized data to their investors.
The Federal Reserve is already beginning the process of weaving systemic climate risk into its oversight of the financial system, because as economist Glenn Rudebusch of the San Francisco Fed wrote in a recent Economic Letter, “The effects of climate change are inescapable.” (Business pushback: Politico; Federal Reserve: Reuters)