While a bloody war rages in Ukraine, inflation has hit a historic high of 7.9 percent, and possibilities of a Russian cyberattack on U.S. interests, the Securities and Exchange Commission suggests a new proposal that would require companies to disclose greenhouse gas emissions as well as the organization’s climate risk. The move is evidence of the Biden Administration’s push to address climate change.
These proposals were introduced and approved by a vote of 3 – 1, and it would require all public companies to report on the cost of moving away from utilizing fossil fuels, the company’s risk related to the “physical impact of storms, drought, and higher temperatures caused by global warming.” These companies would also be compelled to produce plans for managing climate risk as well as how to meet climate goals and the company’s progression in those plans.
The SEC cites an interest by investors who desire more information on financial risk related to global warming as the impetus for the new regulations. However, although many companies already offer this information, the SEC says that a uniform reporting of such data will allow investors to compare companies within various sectors and industries.
Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations addressed climate change during a video at an event hosted by The Economist Weekly. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, said that countries “scrambling to replace Russian oil, gas, and coal” with “any available alternative” could actually do damage to the environment in a rush to replace that source of energy. Until sanctions by the United States and its Western allies, Russia was the world’s third largest producer of such products.
Guterres says that the strategy by “most major economies” to stop using Russian energy products “could kill hopes of keeping global warming below dangerous levels.” He further described the actions most countries have taken to replace the import of Russian oil as “madness.” Guterres says that countries (are) neglecting policies to cut fossil fuel use.” He further described the “addiction” to fossil fuels as the latest method of “mutually assured destruction.”
The UN Secretary-General pointed to Germany, who had previously been one of Russia’s biggest customers when it comes to natural gas and oil. Germany is working to increase its supply of oil by purchasing it from Gulf states and buying building more terminals to receive LNG (liquified natural gas).
He then pointed to the United States, who, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, has encouraged producers “to go get more supply out of the ground in our own country.” Guterres failed to mention that the regulations in the United States tend to make the oil America produces cleaner and less likely to have the same environmental impact as drilling in other countries without such mandates.
Guterres said via video that “now is the time to put the pedal to the metal towards a renewable energy future.” American consumers may disagree as gas prices reached $7 per gallon in some major cities; while cabinet members such as Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg suggested that Americans can save on gas money by buying electric cars, he failed to recognize that many Americans aren’t financially able to afford a base model $60,000 electric car. Elon Musk also reminded Americans via Twitter that the American infrastructure isn’t prepared for every American to charge their EVs.
The Associated Press published an article in which they claim that Kuwait is one of the world’s “hottest places” yet the country “lags behind climate action.” The article cited unnamed scientists who predict that, by the end of the century, simply being outdoors in Kuwait City “will be life-threatening.”
While working to be more environmentally friendly is an important factor for world governments, Americans are suffering financially. Although working toward more sustainable energy should be a priority for leaders, there are measures that Western leaders – Americans in particular – can take to lower gas prices and help to protect the environment. Allow for permits on American soil to produce cleaner oil and coal while working to improve the electrical grid so that it can support a nationwide fleet of electric vehicles. The world will benefit, both now and in the future.