We are not weighing in on the climate debate. We are not opining on whether the world’s climate is changing, at what pace or due to what causes, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Shapiro insisted on announcing the SEC’s new “interpretive guidance” on climate change.
The Commission’s two Republican members objected that the Obama Administration was using the Commission to promote its global warming and renewable energy agenda (along with the EPA, NASA, Defense and Interior Departments and others). It’s true, but irrelevant.
Environmentalists and “ethical investing” groups had pressured the Commission for years to require corporate disclosure on climate matters. Now, as the SEC steps in, the Copenhagen treaty negotiations have collapsed in disarray. Cap-and-trade has bogged down over senators’ fears of further damage to the economy and their reelection chances. The Environmental Protection Agency has decreed that plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide is a “dangerous pollutant,” because senators are increasingly reluctant to micromanage the economy, companies and families, but the regs are likely to go nowhere.
Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph and ClimateGate email scandals have metastasized into a tsunami of revelations that have besmirched the IPCC’s credibility and its role as dominant arbiter on matters of energy and climate. Manipulated and missing temperature data. Doctored computer models and disaster scenarios. Alarmist scientists rejecting any studies that dissent from climate catastrophe claims. Headline-grabbing disaster “studies” about melting glaciers and parched rainforests based on rank speculation or written by World Wildlife Fund activists. “Mann-made” climate change, indeed.
Investors certainly do have a “fundamental right to know” which companies are well positioned to address future crises and opportunities, and which are not – as we are frequently reminded by activist investor groups like Institutional Shareholder Services and CALPERS. However, these groups want to use the SEC decision to drive cap-and-trade laws and “endangerment” rulings forward, and drive hydrocarbon use and users into oblivion.
Many companies have been cowed into going along with this agenda. They seek to gain “a seat at the negotiating table,” curry favorable PR through “greenwashing” and “green-nosing,” protect themselves against lawsuits over CO2 emissions and global warming, or profit from renewable energy mandates, subsidies and stimulus grants.
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