Colorado's Sen. Michael Bennet is among the high-profile Democrats planting a political flag Wednesday, as he sponsors an ill-fated bill to force companies to identify their role in climate change.
Climate change is among the highest profile issues Democrats are running on in 2020, and Bennet is running for president. The same is true of five other co-sponsors of the Climate Risk Disclosure Act: Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. The bill also is co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The bill would require companies to assess their contribution to climate change and share that information with investors — and, therefore, with the public. But as long as Republicans control the Senate and the White House, the bill probably isn't going far, beyond sending a statement of partisan political values.
Bennet's senatorial office said Wednesday that the legislation would advance the transition from fossil fuels to greener energy "and reduce the risks of both environmental and financial catastrophe."
“Climate change is an urgent threat that requires every aspect of society — including business — to take action,” Bennet said in a statement. “Shareholders and the public deserve to know the full picture of a company’s exposure to climate-related risks, as well as its steps to reduce emissions and address the climate crisis.”
If the bill were to become law, the Securities and Exchange Commission would develop standards companies would measure themselves against.
Colorado's senior senator from Denver has been a member of the Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis since March.
Bennet's office noted that last month he asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a complete list of its climate-related studies, after he said he learned that the department had only publicized two of at least 45 studies on climate change, as well as backing a bill to to determine the cost of carbon pollution.
“No smart business or investor would make decisions about their day-to-day or long-term actions without systematically researching, documenting and mitigating the risks they face,” Kathy Mulvey, fossil fuel accountability campaign director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said on the organization's website Wednesday.
"Mainstream investors are now demanding improved disclosures related to climate change, one of the biggest risks affecting the global economy and individual corporations — particularly fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil.”