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The Final Word by Chuck Swann

Some environmental catching-up to do

In a recent Nip Impressions column, Paperitalo Publications CEO Jim Thompson wrote that the general public has grown tired of environmental discussions. Not so with company boards of directors, it seems.

Writing in Energy News, Kathiann Kowalski cites a report from the National Association of Manufacturers that recognizes a growing trend among shareholders for climate-related disclosures. "It's become a fundamental part of investing philosophy," said attorney Ben Franz of Marathon Petroleum Company. (Marathon does not drill for oil; it only refines it.) Franz explained that the idea behind shareholder proposals on environmental and social issues is that "positive performance in this area is fundamentally intertwined with long-term financial performance."

"The world is moving closer to a carbon-reduced future," said attorney Trent Dougherty at the Ohio Environmental Council. "Any player in the global market must see the Paris climate accord as the basis for future carbon restrictions, and act accordingly, no matter what actions the U.S. government (t)akes."

Companies around the world continue to seek emissions reductions, writes Kowalski, despite the Trump administration's backpedaling on the Paris accord, the Clean Power Plan and other climate change policies in the United States.

US companies that fail to report on climate-related matters could face more exposure from lawsuits linked to impacts, particularly if the federal government doesn't act, Dougherty added. In his view, failure to disclose exposure to potential litigation is "textbook dereliction of fiduciary duty."

Chuck Swann is Senior Editor of Paperitalo Publications.


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