The cost of climate change is growing for companies as extreme weather disrupts manufacturing and supply chains and inflicts billions in economic losses. For the agriculture industry, the threat from rising temperatures “may be one of the greatest that we face in this lifetime,” according to Corteva, an Indiana company that makes seeds and chemicals.
But Corteva — which was previously part of DowDuPont — says it has a plan. There’s money to be made producing things like biofuels to power ships and airplanes with less climate pollution, and crops that are better at resisting diseases as the planet gets hotter. And — crucially — Corteva says it is curbing some of its own emissions of the greenhouse gasses that are heating the planet. If it misses deadlines it set for operating more sustainably, the company says its relationships with customers and investors could suffer.
However, that hasn’t stopped Corteva from working alongside other American companies and lobbyists to limit upcoming regulations from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that would make businesses disclose their emissions and the risks they face from climate change.
Businesses and climate activists have been pushing to shape the SEC rules for months, because the stakes are high. The economy is awash in climate disclosures that companies tout, but there are few ways for customers and investors to gauge the validity of the claims. The SEC’s goal is to ensure that publicly-traded corporations are reporting comparable information, and also to make sure they aren’t misleading investors about their environmental activities — a practice known as greenwashing, Gary Gensler, chair of the SEC, told the House Financial Services Committee in September.
And while Gensler has said repeatedly that the SEC isn’t writing climate regulations — they’re rules for financial reporting — the requirements the agency comes up with could boost efforts to limit global warming. A study published this summer in the journal Science found that requiring companies to disclose their emissions could put pressure on firms to cut their climate pollution.