Proposed: Legislation, Regulations & Case Law

Concerns about climate change have led to louder calls for regulators in the U.S. to mandate thorough, decision-useful, and transparent disclosure of climate-related information. This section highlights and summarizes recent proposals that would enhance climate-risk disclosure.

bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate to encourage climate-friendly farming practices. The bill would support farmers and forest landowners financially, while providing them assistance in monetizing the climate value of their sustainable practices. them to enhance their sustainability practices. The bill would give farmers technical assistance to access carbon markets, by helping private landowners generate carbon credits through a variety of agriculture and forestry related practices.

The Climate Risk Disclosure Act of 2019 was introduced in the House as Bill H.R.3623 on July 5, 2019, and the Senate version was introduced as bill number S.2075 on July 10, 2019. If passed, the bill would direct the SEC to require issuers to disclose material climate change-related information, including climate-related risks posed to the issuer, as well as the issuer’s strategies and actions to mitigate these risks.

The bill would also direct the SEC to require firms to include five climate-related disclosure topics in their annual disclosure reports. The SEC would be directed to specify disclosure rules for industries within specific sectors of the economy, to the extent practicable. These sectors would include finance, insurance, transportation, electric power, mining, and non-renewable energy, as well as any other sector determined appropriate by the Commission, in consultation with the appropriate climate principals.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden released an updated climate plan on July 14, 2020. The plan calls for a $2 trillion investment to rebuild infrastructure and create a clean energy economy. The climate plan aims to achieve a carbon-pollution-free power sector by 2035; spur the construction of 1.5 million sustainable homes; position the American auto industry to “win” the 21st century by increasing the demand for American-made clean vehicles; provide rebates to encourage the purchase of electric, hybrid, or hydrogen-fuel vehicles; and implement a program to employ 250,000 people to help plug abandoned oil and gas wells. The plan also includes an environmental justice plan and calls for the creation of an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Department of Justice.

Biden’s plan also includes a commitment to instruct attorneys general to “strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters.”

Democratic members of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chair Kathy Castor, unveiled a comprehensive climate focused plan in June 2020, titled “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.” The plan aims to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emission before 2050, reduce net U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 37% below 2010 levels by 2030 and 88% below 2010 levels by 2050, avoid 62,000 premature deaths annually by 2050 by reducing fine particulate matter pollution, and provide nearly $8 trillion in cumulative climate and health benefits through 2050.

The plan would also support the rapid development of zero-carbon energy sources and the construction of new transmission infrastructure to deliver clean energy to homes. It would incentivize more domestic manufacturing of clean energy, clean vehicle, and zero-emission technologies, and would launch new economic sectors to facilitate the transition to a green economy. The full report is available here. A summary of the report can be found here.