State lawmakers will consider a package of legislation this spring intended to increase transparency about corporate pollution and protect state residents from the economic fallout of climate change.
Sens. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach and Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles, announced Monday that they have introduced a legislative package that will, among other things, require major companies to publicly report their greenhouse gas emission levels and end pension investments into fossil fuel companies.
The three legislators argued that major corporations will be integral to the state’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.
A 2017 report from the environmental nonprofit CDP and the Climate Accountability Institute found that roughly 71 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses since 1988 had been emitted by just 100 companies, four of which include oil and gas industry titans like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron.
“To tackle the climate crisis, we need new standards to improve transparency and raise the bar for the business community across the nation – and that’s exactly what the Climate Accountability Package does,” Wiener said in a statement.
Wiener’s bill, SB 253, would require companies with annual revenues of at least $1 billion to publicly disclose each year the amount of greenhouse gas they emit, including emissions due to corporate supply chains.
At a briefing Monday, Wiener argued major companies and several European countries already have similar emissions disclosure standards in place.
“We will certainly hear from some corporations, “we can’t do this, it’s not feasible,'” he said. “We know that that is false.”
Stern’s bill, which does not yet have a legislative number, aims to require financial institutions to disclose fossil fuel investments when they could pose a climate-related risk to consumers.
Gonzalez’s bill, SB 252, would require the state’s public investment pension funds for state employees and teachers to end investments into fossil fuel companies. She noted that roughly $11 billion in pension funds are currently invested in the oil and gas industry.
Wiener’s proposal is akin to last year’s SB 260, which he co-authored with Stern and would have imposed similar requirements for corporations to publicly report emissions.
SB 260 passed through the Senate but stalled in the Assembly, falling just short of the votes it needed to be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature.
The California Business Roundtable and several statewide and local business and economic development groups including the state Chamber of Commerce and the Bay Area Council argued in a joint statement that SB 253 should fail as SB 260 did because it would hurt the small and medium-sized businesses that comprise the supply chains for the major corporations the bill mainly targets.
“If SB 253 … is virtually the same as last year’s SB 260, it will create a new and significant cost burden to businesses,” the business groups’ statement said. “As such, the business community will remain united in its opposition to such a measure.”
Environmental groups, as well as some businesses like Patagonia, Dignity Health and Sierra Nevada Brewing, have already backed the package of bills and expressed their support Monday at the briefing held by the three lawmakers.
“California has an opportunity in front of us to lead the nation and the world on corporate disclosure of carbon emissions with SB 253,” said Melissa Romero, the senior legislative affairs manager for California Environmental Voters. “We can set the bar.”