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Making the SEC Climate Rule real
We are writing a book entitled The SEC Climate Rule. The background is that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has published a proposed rule that required publicly traded companies to inform investors about the impact that climate change may have on their financial performance. The SEC’s mandate is to do with the disclosure of information. It cannot require companies to actually do anything about their greenhouse gas emissions.
Although the proposed rule will be very helpful in determining how to reduce emissions, there is a danger that it becomes merely a form-filling exercise. Yet, climate change is not just one problem among many — climate change is already causing wrenching changes in the way that people live. And those changes are going to become more acute and life-threatening to increasing numbers of people.
Most of the people who are involved in the development and use of this rule have a financial or legal background (after all, the SEC is a financial-reporting agency). These people may not fully grasp just how serious the impacts of climate change may be. Therefore, we have prepared a Table outlining potential impacts as temperatures rise above the pre-industrial baseline. The information in the Table is taken from Mark Lynas’ book Our Final Warning — Six Degrees of Climate Emergency.
We are already at or close to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial baseline, and there seems to be little chance of holding temperature increases to 2.0°C. Moreover, some of the consequences shown in the Table seem to be with us already: food shortages, drought and loss of biosphere are the stuff of daily headlines. Time is not on our side.