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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 12
  • July
  • 2019

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Increasing Climate Disclosure Mandate in the United Kingdom

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom (“UK”) indicated that it is considering rules to require disclosure of certain climate-related risks. On July 2, the government released its Green Finance Strategy, which discusses the UK’s strategy for accomplishing its goals of net zero emissions by 2050. Among the actions discussed is a consideration of mandatory climate reporting.

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Glencore the Latest to Commit to Climate Action 100+ Initiative

Glencore PLC, the British-Swiss multinational trading and mining company, is one of the latest to commit to take steps in line with investor initiative Climate Action 100+. In what some are calling a potential tipping point in shareholder engagement on climate issues, Glencore committed to cap coal production at current levels, prioritize investment in commodities supporting low-emissions technology, and continue to disclose climate-related risks and opportunities in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

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S&P Launches Forward-Looking ESG Benchmark

On April 12, 2019, S&P Global Ratings (S&P) announced the launch of “ESG Evaluation,” a new benchmark designed to evaluate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. The new benchmark is separate from S&P’s credit ratings and is an aggregate of two components: a quantitative data-driven assessment of a company’s current ESG performance and a qualitative review of how a company is prepared to mitigate future ESG risks and take advantage of opportunities following discussions with the company’s senior management and board of directors.

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  • 21
  • June
  • 2018

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NGOs Push for Battery Storage As BACT at California Gas Plant

On May 29, 2018, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups filed a petition for review with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) to challenge the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit issued by EPA Region 9 for the Palmdale Energy Project (PEP). While the nature of the project has evolved over time (PEP was originally supposed to be a hybrid natural gas plant and solar facility), the final PSD permit for the project approves the construction of a 645 megawatt (MW) combined cycle natural gas-fired power plant. PEP’s PSD permit also authorizes the facility to construct duct burners to produce additional electricity during peak demand periods. As originally proposed, the co-located solar facility would have fulfilled this role; however, the project developer changed designs based on the increased deployment of solar energy in California, reducing the need for daytime peak load assistance. With potential peak demand times projected to be more common in the evening, a co-located peaker solar facility was no longer thought to be the best option for the facility’s design.

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  • 31
  • May
  • 2018

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  • Eric Holdsworth

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The Edison Electric Institute ESG/Sustainability Reporting Template: A Model For Other Industries

EEI’s member companies are leading the transformation to a lower-carbon economy through major capital investments in cleaner energy and smarter energy infrastructure. For example, since 2007, the mix of resources used to generate electricity in the United States has changed dramatically, with more than one-third of the nation’s electricity now coming from non-emitting resources. In addition, EEI member companies have undertaken a wide range of initiatives over the last 30 years to reduce, avoid, or sequester emissions, and, in 2017, power sector carbon dioxide emissions were 27 percent below 2005 levels. EEI’s member companies have also been at the forefront of ESG/sustainability reporting, being amongst the first industries to undertake sustainability and climate reporting.

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The Sustainability Report Heard Round the World?

On March 9, 2018, UBS filed a Form 6-K with the SEC enclosing its EU-required corporate sustainability report. This filing marks a significant moment in the rapidly changing world of environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) disclosures as it effectively declares climate and sustainability reporting to be material. As we have noted previously, increasing investor demands for information on ESG topics, including climate change, has rapidly blurred the line between financial and non-financial disclosures.

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  • 30
  • April
  • 2018

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Natural Disaster: Social Insurance in an Era of Climate Change

V&E lawyers Margaret Peloso and Kristen Miller examine whether and how social insurance programs should be redesigned in order to better address the environmental disasters caused by global climate change in a recent article published in The Environmental Forum. The article briefly explores the current role of social insurance programs in managing environmental risk, before assessing the strain these programs will experience as climate events become increasingly extreme and frequent. 

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SEC Staff Permits “Micro-Management” Argument to Exclude Climate Change Proposals

During the 2018 proxy season, the SEC has been taking a more nuanced, company-friendly approach to certain climate change and environmental protection shareholder proposals. Specifically, the Commission recently concurred with the exclusion of several climate change shareholder proposals on the grounds that they sought to “micro-manage” the company under the “ordinary business” exception to Rule 14a-8.

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ExxonMobil Releases Climate Change Report, Following Similar Reports by Chevron, Shell, and Others

In response to a shareholder proposal that received a majority vote in 2017, ExxonMobil released Energy & Carbon Summary: Positioning for a Lower-Carbon Energy Future, a report outlining the potential impacts of climate change on ExxonMobil’s business through 2040.

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  • 22
  • March
  • 2018

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Ninth Circuit Denies Petition for Writ of Mandamus in Climate Litigation — Suit Continues

On March 7, 2018, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to grant the defendants’ petition for a writ of mandamus in the climate change suit Juliana v. United States. The government defendants asked the district court to dismiss the suit and sought mandamus relief when the district court denied the motion to dismiss.

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  • 15
  • February
  • 2018

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Ninth Circuit: We Repeat, Climate Projections for the Year 2100 Okay to Support ESA Listing Decisions

On February 12, 2018, the Ninth Circuit upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service’s use of long-term climate projections to list the Arctic ringed seal (Phoca hispida hispida) as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, even though the seal population is currently healthy and abundant and there is no evidence of adverse impacts to the seals from climate change.

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The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Seeks to Revamp Climate Change Disclosures Worldwide

Investors and lenders are beginning to publicly urge companies from a wide variety of industries to implement the June 2017 Final Recommendations of the G20 Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and account for climate-related risks and opportunities in their public financial filings. The TCFD’s recommendations are a voluntary disclosure framework, but shareholders, non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”), and others are pushing for their widespread adoption. The energy industry will certainly be a focus as the TCFD looks to implement its recommendations, and the recommendations themselves include a note that the group will promulgate additional, sector-specific guidance for the energy industry at a later time. This post provides a step-by-step analysis of the TCFD’s recommendations and how these recommendations incorporate but also move far beyond any current voluntary climate disclosure program. Energy companies should be aware of the full extent of what the TCFD is requesting as they consider their overall policies and strategy on climate change.

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  • 11
  • October
  • 2017

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Court Vacates BLM’s Postponement of Obama Methane Rule

On October 4, 2017, in a consolidated decision for Sierra Club, et al. v. Zinke, et al., No. 17-cv-03885, and State of California, et al. v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 17-cv-03804, a Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated BLM’s postponement of its 2016 final rule entitled “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation” (the “Waste Prevention Rule” or “Rule”). The Waste Prevention Rule imposes additional emission control requirements relating to venting, flaring, and leaking of natural gas from oil and gas production operations on public lands in an effort to reduce methane emissions. The Rule required operators to submit “waste minimization” plans by January 2017 and includes other compliance deadlines, beginning in January 2018. On October 5, 2017, BLM published a proposed rule that would extend the January 2018 compliance deadlines to January 2019. The comment period for this proposed rule is currently open through November 6, 2017.

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