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You Can Help Companies Take Real Climate Action in Just 90 Seconds

Sustainability News
by Tim Wenger Mar 26, 2021

This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.

You have a chance to play a crucial role in holding businesses accountable for their impact on the climate. Bonus: It’s super easy! All you have to do is submit a quick comment. It’s been a big week on the climate action front. Here’s what’s happening and why your comment matters — and how you can add your say in about 90 seconds.

The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering raising and standardizing its requirements for businesses to disclose emissions and climate risk, giving consumers and investors more insight into the climate impact of the money they spend. The SEC is currently seeking public comment on how to develop these more standardized requirements and whether they are necessary. This is where you come in.

The SEC released a series of questions to guide commenters, though those questions are intended more for investors than simple consumers. Why is the SEC asking for public comment about how businesses should disclose their environmental impact? This stems from what’s been a common theme in The Climate Win column over the past year: The everyday citizen increasingly wants to support companies that care about the environment, and this is encouraging businesses to release ambitious emissions reductions goals.

But it starts at the top, with the federal government. The Biden administration is prioritizing climate action. Businesses are responding in kind, with major brands like GM agreeing to work with the government in a long-term decarbonization push. And, both investors and consumers really want to know what businesses are doing to address their environmental impact. You likely spend and/or invest money with companies that would be required to disclose this information — so you should have a say in what they’re legally obliged to report.

Or, as Acting SEC Chair Allison Herren Lee put it in a public statement, “I am asking the staff to evaluate our disclosure rules with an eye toward facilitating the disclosure of consistent, comparable, and reliable information on climate change.”

The goal is to create a standardized reporting method based on tangible data, which companies can use to report on their environmental impact. This will reward companies that take concrete action by driving more customers to their business. When consumers know how to buy and invest in companies that are actionable on climate change, they increasingly do so. Data backs this up. In the energy sector, for example, Quartz just reported that global spending on renewable energy is reaching parity with expenditures on oil and gas. Just two years ago, investment in renewables was only a quarter of what went into fossil fuels. A drastic shift in consumer priorities has supported this increased availability of clean energy.

How to add your SEC comment

We’ve made it easy. You can copy the italicized statement below. It references the Science Based Targets initiative we wrote about last week, driving home the idea of specific, standardized, and measurable climate steps.

  1. Go to the ruling’s public statement page.
  2. At the bottom of the statement, click on “Submit input: webform.”
  3. Fill in a couple of the lines, and then pop this statement into the comments box:

I request that disclosure requirements be streamlined to follow verified scientific methods shown to reduce a brand’s climate impact, such as the standards set forth by the Science Based Targets initiative, in an effort to make measuring a company’s disclosure consistent and simple to understand for consumers and investors.

More climate wins

Europe is moving full-steam ahead on climate action. Sweden announced this week it would increase airport fees for high-polluting planes landing at its airports, encouraging airlines to use newer, more fuel-efficient planes, The Guardian reported. The ruling comes into effect in July.

Off the mainland, the United Kingdom is now halfway to its net-zero emissions target, reaching 51 percent below 1990-level emissions in 2020 according to a report in CarbonBrief. The country’s plan is to reach net-zero by 2050, and it’s off to a stronger start than most wealthy nations.

Across the world, Japan is upping the ante on its 2030 climate goals. Like Britain, Japan also hopes to reach net-zero by 2050, and Nikkei Asia reported this week that it plans to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases 26 percent below 2013 levels by 2030, and to work closely with the United States in both countries’ effort to do so.

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