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Must-Pass Legislation: Make corporations disclose climate impacts and risks

Many smokestacks and towers under gray sky, telephone lines crisscrossing in front

The state legislature is taking a break until August 14. In the meantime, here’s a look ahead at two key bills that, if passed, will give Californians vastly more information about corporations’ role in the climate crisis. SB 253 (Wiener) and SB 261 (Stern) are closely related; it’s critical to get them both passed into law this fall.

SB 253, The Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act

SB 253, the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, requires very large corporations to report all greenhouse gas emissions they’re responsible for. In the past, companies could get away with reporting only the emissions caused by their manufacturing and operations; if this bill becomes law, they will have to report their Scope 3 emissions—that is, the emissions from the use of their products once they’re sold. For example, oil companies will have to report emissions from the gasoline they’ve sold to gas stations. Data from the Carbon Disclosure Project has shown that Scope 3 emissions are more than 11 times higher than company operational (Scopes 1 and 2) emissions.

SB261, Greenhouse Gases: Climate-Related Financial Risk

SB 261, Greenhouse Gases: Climate-Related Financial Risk, requires very large companies to disclose the financial risks they’re taking that are due to climate change issues. With this information, investors will be able to evaluate the wisdom of investing in banks and other companies that are worsening the climate crisis.

Both Passed Senate, Now in Assembly

Both these bills have already passed the Senate; in the Assembly, they’ve both passed the Natural Resources Committee and have been referred to the Appropriations Committee. We need both bills to pass through Appropriations; then they’ll be up for a vote by the full Assembly in late August or early September. We’ll definitely let you know when it’s time to telephone your assemblymember!


Photo by staff volunteer

This article first appeared in our July 2023 newsletter

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