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SEC to require climate-change disclosure; global warming as next-asbestos?

On a party-line 3-2 vote, the SEC says companies need to disclose global warming exposures, and its critics suspect that politico-environmental objectives may be more at play here than motives of investor protection [Megan McArdle, Jonathan Adler] Meanwhile, as John Schwartz reports at the New York Times, advocates of global warming litigation have taken heart from a couple of favorable rulings and hope to reverse the dismissal of the much-watched Kivalina suit. A Swiss Re report (PDF, via Pero) is also being read as backing for the view that the suits are not going away soon. Christopher Fountain has this observation:

It's notable that the Eskimos bringing this Alaskan suit live on a barrier island, by definition a temporary, always moving geological structure. If they can win damages for the result of living on earth, who can't?

P.S. And here's analysis from Bainbridge (companies already must report important exposures, SEC's "guidance may muddy the waters," and "Investors don't get much of value from [the newly required] disclosures") and Ribstein ("what really bothers me is that firms (meaning, of course, their managers and shareholders) have been forced, upon penalty of fines and damages, to participate in the contentious global warming debate").



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.