By The New York Times
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Investors worried about the possible financial fallout from greenhouse gas emissions have asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to require that companies disclose their financial vulnerability to changes in climate.
Yesterday, a group of 27 investors who collectively manage more than $1 trillion in assets sent a letter to the S.E.C. chairman, Christopher Cox, asking that financial risks linked to climate change issues be included as part of routine corporate financial reports.
The letter, whose signers included several state officials, including the New York Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, defines risk broadly.
"Investors have a right to know if a company's buildings are in the path of hurricanes that might be exacerbated by climate change, or if it will face high costs when greenhouse gas emissions are regulated," said James Coburn, a policy adviser at Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups that sent the letter. "They need that information to reduce their portfolio risk."
Just as important, Mr. Coburn said, companies that are forced to quantify and disclose their vulnerabilities are far more likely to address them. "What is measured is managed," he said.
Mr. Coburn said Ceres faxed the letter to Mr. Cox, and sent e-mail copies to several staff members. It has also mailed copies to the chairman and commissioners.
A spokesman for the S.E.C., John Heine, said the agency had no comment at this time.