United States Company Law as it Impacts Corporate Environmental Behavior, with Emphasis on Climate Change
39 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2012 Last revised: 22 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 10, 2012
This paper is of a series of international mapping papers in the Sustainable Companies Project at the Faculty of Law in Oslo addressing the barriers and possibilities for environmentally sustainable companies.It analyzes US company laws that might be used to compel corporations to take action to address climate change. Included in the analysis are federal and state company laws as well as other avenues available to compel company behavior, including, among others, Securities and Exchange Commission regulations and shareholder proposals. It concludes that under current US law, companies may, but are not compelled to pay heed to the issue of climate change. For instance, under current Securities Exchange Commission guidance, companies must make some disclosure about the risks climate change may pose to their organization, they are not compelled to take meaningful action to mitigate such risks. Similar limitations are present under most sources of current US company law, supporting the view of the Sustainable Companies project that some changes to such law may be necessary to achieve the goal of effecting positive change with regard to climate change by virtue of company law.
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