US House Passes Legislation to Strengthen Public Companies’ Climate Risk Disclosures

Statement by Kathy Mulvey, Accountability Campaign Director, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jun 16, 2021

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives today passed comprehensive legislation that would require companies—including those in financial, insurance and fossil fuel sectors—to disclose climate-related information and risks to investors and regulators in their annual reporting to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The bill includes key provisions from the Climate Risk Disclosure Act that aim to ensure the public and investors have adequate information on publicly held companies’ plans for a low-carbon future that is guided by science. This effort to increase transparency is supported by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and more than 80 other environmental and public interest organizations, as well as faith-based and socially responsible investors.

Below is a statement by Kathy Mulvey, accountability campaign director in the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

“Harms to people and communities across the country are rising due to mounting climate impacts in the form of extreme heat and precipitation, more intense hurricanes, and worsening drought. Companies are not immune to such events. The passage of legislation to mandate and standardize corporate disclosure of climate-related risks is a huge step forward in guaranteeing that science and data guide companies’ plans for a low-carbon future and providing investors and the public with reliable information to make decisions. This bill will also help deter fossil fuel companies, such as Chevron and ExxonMobil, from continuing their efforts to greenwash business as usual with woefully inadequate voluntary climate risk reports. Investors and the public deserve comprehensive, consistent and comparable disclosures about near- and long-term risks posed by climate change—one of the biggest threats to the global economy and to the success of individual companies.”

To learn more about the climate impacts that may follow if no action is taken, see the UCS reports and resources below.

  • A 2019 UCS report and accompanying peer-reviewed study, which found that without global action to reduce heat-trapping emissions, the number of days when the heat-index—or “feels like” temperature—exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit would more than double to an average of 36 across the United States by midcentury and increase four-fold to an average of 54 by the century’s end. To check out the “Killer Heat” report, click here.
  • A 2018 UCS report, which found that by the end of the century homes and businesses currently worth more than $1 trillion could be at risk of chronic flooding if no action is taking to reduce global warming emissions. To read the report “Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate,” click here.
  • For more information on how climate risk disclosure helps everyone, click here.