The latest alarm bell to be rung on climate change — last Friday’s government report warning that the damage caused by the warming planet could shrink the U.S. economy by 10% by the end of the century — is expected to support the push for mandatory climate-risk disclosures among corporations, according to experts, writes MarketWatch, a business newsletter.
But much remains to be done to get companies to consistently make disclosures on how climate-change-related events, such as the recent deadly wildfires in California, are impacting business. ‘[W]e are looking at an economic crisis that, not unlike the subprime meltdown, will impact every sector of the economy and company within it”, says Mindy Lubber, chief executive of the sustainability-oriented nonprofit Ceres. According to Lubber, the report differed from other climate studies in one respect: most climate research is science-based and tends to seek to generate a sense of urgency around time frames, public health and the future of the planet. “This one zeroed in on the economic impact, and that’s very important because we are looking at an economic crisis that, not unlike the subprime meltdown, will impact every sector of the economy and company within it,” she said.
In 2017, The Guardian reported that since 1988, just 100 companies, mostly in the energy sector, were responsible for 71% of the world’s carbon emissions, suggesting that action by a limited number of corporations could yield significant reductions.
Based on a review of documents detailing what Exon Mobil knew about the company’s role in climate change, Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes, writing in The New York Times, conclude that “Exxon Mobil misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications. Available documents show a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy between what Exxon Mobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public.” Their analysis is published in Environmental Research Letters. A coalition of state attorneys general and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether the company lied to the public and investors about what it knew about the dangers of climate change. Making corporations liable for misleading investors about scientific evidence may be a valuable strategy for public health advocates seeking to reduce harmful corporate practices.
Linking food to other issues and campaigns can amplify the power of food and other movements and increase the chances of winning meaningful victories. Photo: 2017 People’s Climate March. Credit: Mark Dixon.
In the four months since Trump took office, write Nicholas Freudenberg and Mark Bittman in Civil Eats, many of our fears have come true. Spiking deportation activities have scared farmworkers out of the fields and broken up families across the country. The threats to repeal the Affordable Care Act are closer to reality, putting farmers, rural communities, and tens of millions of others at risk of losing their health care. An executive order that claims to promote rural prosperity instead focuses on repealing ag regulations that protect farmworkers, farm communities, and food safety. And, across the board, Trump’s proposed budget would decimate funding to help make healthy, affordable food more available to everyone, especially those already at highest risk of food insecurity and diet-related diseases.
The only silver lining has been the loud, sustained resistance to these devastating policies. Even as this administration works to turn back the progress the food justice movement has made in the past 20 years, many are standing strong and pushing back.