Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 28
  • June
  • 2017

Authors:

Share on:

Environmental Groups Move to Revive NEPA Lawsuit Over Federal Coal Leasing Program

Environmental groups are seeking to revive a climate change lawsuit regarding the federal coal leasing program, which allows companies to lease federal lands to mine coal. The coal leasing program manages leases on approximately 570 million acres of federal land, and produces approximately 40% of domestically sourced coal. Over 30% of energy generated in the United States comes from coal.

Read More
  • 19
  • June
  • 2017

Author:

Share on:

EPA Proposes 2-Year Stay on Key Parts of Quad Oa — the 2016 Methane NSPS Rule for the Oil and Gas Industry

On June 16, 2017, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule that would stay for two years parts of EPA’s June 3, 2016 final rule entitled “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources,” which amended and established updated new source performance standards (NSPS) for the oil and natural gas sector. This final rule was codified in EPA’s NSPS regulations as Subpart OOOOa to 40 CFR Part 60 or “Quad Oa.” Detailed information about Quad Oa can be found here.

Read More
  • 15
  • June
  • 2017

Authors:

Share on:

The Ascendance of 2° Celsius Proposals in ESG Activism

The 2017 proxy season will be remembered as the first proxy season to see “2° Celsius” shareholder proposals succeed at annual meetings of U.S. public companies. Environmental shareholder proposals have quietly garnered increasing support in annual meetings of public companies in recent years, but the 2° Celsius proposal has enjoyed greater and more vocal support than others. Shareholder voting data from the 2016 proxy season pointed to the possibility that 2017 could be the first year that these proposals would receive more than 50% of shareholder votes at annual meetings. As of mid-June 2017, three 2° Celsius proposals have passed the 50% vote threshold at annual meetings. Below we summarize the groundwork laid for this type of proposal by the 2015 Paris Agreement and international meetings before it, and we present voting data from annual meetings of 2016 and 2017 to show the increasing popularity of these proposals.

Read More
  • 06
  • June
  • 2017

Authors:

Share on:

President Trump Announces U.S. Exit From the Paris Agreement

President Trump announced on Thursday, June 1, 2017 that he will pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. This decision is hugely controversial. Indeed, even Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, the world’s two largest oil producers, opposed withdrawal. Moreover, nearly every country in the world (including North Korea) has signed onto the Agreement. By withdrawing, the U.S. has become one of only three countries to abstain from participation, joining ranks with Nicaragua and Syria.

Read More

IHS Markit Challenges Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures

In another chapter in the ongoing debate regarding the future of public company disclosures concerning the environment, the London-based consulting firm IHS Markit Ltd. has issued a lengthy report critiquing the Draft Recommendations published in December 2016 by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). A handful of energy company supermajors provided financial support for the report, entitled Climate-Related Financial Risk and the Oil and Gas Sector.

Read More
  • 01
  • June
  • 2017

Authors:

Share on:

The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures Calls for Never-Before-Used Scenario Analysis in Public Disclosures

In December 2016, the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) published Draft Recommendations purporting to set forth “widely adoptable recommendations on climate-related financial disclosures that are applicable to organizations across sectors and jurisdictions.”  Appended to these Draft Recommendations is a Technical Supplement, explaining that the TCFD is calling for companies to analyze and disclose risks related to climate change using a “scenario” analysis. Whether the TCFD’s Draft Recommendations become, in fact, “widely adoptable” will depend in part on how the recommendations square with the current regulatory framework for public company disclosures and how ready companies and the SEC are to support the new methods of analysis and standards for disclosure advocated by the recommendations.

Read More

Top Asset Managers That Support Environmental Shareholder Proposals

Environmental shareholder activism at publicly traded companies in the U.S. features some of the largest investors in the world supporting proposals sponsored by some of the smallest investors in the world. From 2015 to the present, most environmental shareholder proposals were brought to annual meetings of companies by relatively unknown investment groups such as As You Sow, Mercy Investment Services, The Park Foundation, Trillium Asset Management, Calvert Asset Management, The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and the Presbyterian Church of the USA. Only occasionally have these proposals been co-sponsored or sponsored by significantly larger pension funds in the U.S. market known for their interests in corporate environmental policy. With these proposals, these small investors have commanded degrees of attention at corporations highly disproportionate to their usually miniscule ownership stakes. The 2017 proxy season is likely to bring continued increases in visibility for these investors, with added support from a few of the world’s leading asset managers.

Read More
  • 16
  • May
  • 2017

Author:

Share on:

D.C. Circuit Suspends Proceedings in Clean Power Plan Case

On Friday, April 28, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the “D.C. Circuit”) granted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA’s”) request to suspend litigation in two cases considering the Clean Power Plan (the “CPP”). The D.C. Circuit’s orders come after the D.C. Circuit heard en banc oral arguments in one of the cases, West Virginia v. EPA, 15-1363, last year. The D.C. Circuit’s orders required the parties to file supplemental briefing on the question of whether the CPP should be remanded to EPA, which they have filed. A key question to be decided based on this briefing is the effect of a remand on the Supreme Court’s February 2016 stay on the CPP. This post discusses the background of the CPP cases, the D.C. Circuit’s orders, and potential scenarios if the D.C. Circuit decides to remand the CPP to EPA.

Read More

How Leading Institutional Investors Vote on Environmental Shareholder Proposals

Leading U.S. asset managers are increasingly eager to explore the proposition that environmentally conscious policies drive shareholder value, but many of the same asset managers have not frequently voted for environment-related shareholder proposals on the proxy statements of U.S. public companies. The 2017 proxy season will test the readiness of major institutional investors to back environmental shareholder proposals and will reveal whether their past reluctance to do so has eased since 2016.

Read More
  • 03
  • April
  • 2017

Author:

Share on:

Is President Trump’s Climate Executive Order Good for Business?

On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that seeks to entirely reverse the Obama Administration’s climate policies. Widely anticipated and discussed as a “climate change” order, the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, is actually a sweeping statement regarding the President’s desire to comprehensively reduce regulatory burdens across the energy industry. The stated purpose of the Executive Order—to promote the development of American energy resources—raises the question of whether what the order seeks to accomplish is good for the energy industry.

Read More
  • 29
  • March
  • 2017

Authors:

Share on:

Corporate Boards Keep Watch: BlackRock Again Emphasizes Linkages between Climate-Friendly Policies and Market Value

Institutional investors are increasingly emphasizing linkages between protection of the environment and long-term shareholder value in an effort to both strengthen shareholder value and to encourage other investors to seek more environmentally-conscious policies in the companies in which they invest. These large asset managers are paying attention to environmental factors in their portfolio management and engagement decisions not just to benefit the world, they say, but to protect and increase company value. For the moment, climate-related aspects of environmental protection are receiving a particularly high degree of attention from environmentally-focused asset managers and investors.

Read More
  • 15
  • March
  • 2017

Authors:

Share on:

Major Investment Manager Makes Climate-Related Disclosure a Priority for 2017-2018

Earlier this month the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, Inc., announced five “engagement priorities” for the coming year. Improving climate risk disclosure made BlackRock’s priority list alongside the more traditional areas of focus: governance, corporate strategy, compensation and human capital. BlackRock stated it will “engage companies most exposed to climate risk to understand their views on the TCFD [Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures] recommendations and to encourage them to consider using this reporting framework as it is finalized and subsequently evolves over time.”

Read More
  • 14
  • March
  • 2017

Author:

Share on:

EPA Withdraws Request for Information About GHG Emissions From the Oil and Gas Industry

On March 2, 2017, EPA announced that it was withdrawing its information collect request (the “ICR”) asking owners and operators in the oil and natural gas industry to provide information on equipment and air emissions at existing oil and gas operations. The withdrawal is effective immediately, meaning owners and operators—including those who have received an extension to their due dates for providing the information—are no longer required to respond to the request. Unlike other actions taken by the prior administration’s EPA, such as final regulations promulgated in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), the ICR could be withdrawn without notice and comment, because it was not a rule subject to APA procedures.

Read More
  • 09
  • March
  • 2017

Author:

Share on:

Automakers Request that EPA Withdraw Final Determination Vehicle Emission Standards and Resume Midterm Evaluation

On Tuesday, February 21st, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (“Alliance”), an association representing twelve of the leading manufacturers of cars and light trucks in the United States, formally requested that EPA withdraw the Final Determination on the Appropriateness of the Model Year 2022-2025 Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards under the Midterm Evaluation (“Final Determination”).

Read More
  • 17
  • February
  • 2017

Author:

Share on:

Beyond Regulations: What Additional Changes to Climate Change Policy Could Happen Under the Trump Administration?

The few public statements from then-candidate Trump regarding climate policy indicated that he will seek to reverse much of his predecessor’s course on laws and policies pursued in the name of preventing climate change, including the Paris Agreement and the Clean Power Plan. The President has also stated that he wants to cut regulations by 75%, and released an Executive Order limiting the creation of new regulations. But even outside of the realm of formal regulations, there are a number of climate-related policies of the previous administration that could be impacted by President Trump’s policy preferences.

Read More

Sign Up for Updates

Receive email news and alerts about Climate Change from V&E

Follow Us On Linkedin

Contributors

Margaret E. Peloso

Margaret E. Peloso Counsel

Eric Groten

Eric Groten Partner

George C. Hopkins

George C. Hopkins Partner

Michael B. Wigmore

Michael B. Wigmore Partner

Mattew T. Dobbins

Matthew Dobbins Senior Associate

Tyler E. Robinson

Tyler E. Robinson Senior Associate

Theresa Romanosky

Theresa Romanosky Associate

Brandon M. Tuck

Brandon M. Tuck Senior Associate