Are You Lobbying Against Your Shareholders?

Last Updated Oct 2, 2007 2:45 PM EDT

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For some companies, supporting regulations for climate change is a matter of conscience (and positive PR.) If that stance is going to hurt earnings, though, what responsibility does the company have to its shareholders? A new report reveals that USCAP (United States Climate Action Partnership) members are not informing shareholders just how deeply new regulations will hit the bottom line.

The study found that 21 companies disclosed a variety of business risks in their Form 10-K filings, but only five cited green house gas regulation as a risk. USCAP members have also failed to disclose that they are lobbying against their own earnings and shareholder value. For example, the proposed legislative ban on incandescent lightbulbs jeopardizes USCAP member GE's investment in increasing the efficiency of those bulbs. The study concludes that publicly owned corporations not affiliated with USCAP may have made similar disclosures, and the SEC should take steps to make full disclosure a requirement.

Companies are obviously predicting a shareholder upheaval, but any business that isn't prepared to remain competitive under increased regulation of greenhouse gases is just deluding itself.

(USCAP image by World Resources Institute Staff)