Claim: Businesses Losing Interest in Climate Reporting

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Australian corporate regulator has warned of a substantial decline in the number of businesses including climate impact statements in their company reports.

‘Worrying’: Companies’ reporting of climate risks goes ‘backwards’

By Ruth Williams
20 September 2018 — 4:11pm

The number of companies providing information about climate change and its risks in their annual reports has fallen dramatically since 2011, and information that is provided is often “fragmented” and of limited use to investors, the corporate regulator has found.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) examined the 2017 annual reports of 60 companies in the ASX300, of which just 17 per cent disclosed climate change as a “material risk”. Outside the top 200 companies, climate risk disclosure was “very limited”.

ASIC then examined 15,000 ASX-listed company annual reports dating back six years and found that the proportion containing climate risk and climate-change-related content had dropped from 22 per cent in 2011 to 14 per cent – probably due to the existence and then repeal of the Gillard-era emissions trading scheme legislation.

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I suspect part of the problem might be the difficulty of quantifying the impact of climate change, based on seriously poor quality climate predictions.

the IPCC (AR5) suggests that climate sensitivity is between 1.5C / doubling of CO2 to 4.5C / doubling of CO2, though they qualify this range by suggesting climate sensitivity is extremely unlikely to be lower than 1C / doubling or higher as 6C / doubling (see page 871).

How is anyone supposed to work with garbage numbers like that? Even climate action advocates admit the imprecision of climate predictions creates serious problems for anyone trying to determine the real world impact of ongoing CO2 emissions. Setting aside for a moment the issue of whether CO2 is actually a problem, the following quote from The Carbon Brief explains some of the problems encountered when attempting to estimate the remaining global carbon budget.

… In this article, Carbon Brief assesses nine new carbon budget estimates released by different groups over the past two years. Most show larger allowable emissions than were featured in the last IPCC report. A number of studies suggest that carbon budgets estimates based on ESMs may be on the low side as a result of limitations with how some models represent the carbon cycle.

However, there is still a wide range of variation in these new carbon budgets, arising from differences in approaches, timeframes, estimates of warming to-date and other factors. Recent studies suggest the remaining carbon budget to limit warming to “well below” 1.5C might have already been exceeded by emissions to-date, or might be as large as 15 more years of emissions at our current rate.

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Imagine for a moment you are the chief auditor of a coal company. What would you write in your company report?

There are so many conflicting signals. Demand is surging – Japan and China are competing with each other to finance thousands of new coal plants throughout Asia and the developing world. Some influential research groups claim you have already destroyed the world and should be shut down immediately. Other groups claim you should be allowed to operate for another 15 years. Some politicians claim your business is wrecking the planet, other politicians champion your business as the saviour of the national economy. To add to the fun, many high profile climate predictions such as Al Gore’s ice free arctic prediction have simply failed to occur.

Remember if you get it wrong, you might be sued, or in extreme circumstances you might even go to jail. Misleading investors is potentially a serious offence. As company auditor, the buck stops with you. Scientists might be able to get away with meaningless butt covering climate sensitivity ranges, but as company auditor you are supposed to provide concrete information which can be used as a sound basis for investment decisions.

Easier not to say anything about climate risk, or to say something vague and meaningless which can’t be used as a reason to sue you if you get it wrong.

32 thoughts on “Claim: Businesses Losing Interest in Climate Reporting

  1. But now we have the government (Australian) declaring that the most important point is to get electricity prices down and then ensure reliability. Emissions? We are not getting out of Paris – this is to appease our small neighbours in the SW Pacific – but we are not going to worry about emissions.

  2. And here in the great white north we have Junior with his push me pull you act of trying to impose a carbon tax while trying to build an oil exporting pipeline to the west coast.

    • While assuredly NOT building a pipeline. Did you see hus glee when he said they would do it the “right way”?

      • I’m open to the Canadian Pipeline if “the right way” includes routing it through the U.S. so as not to disturb Canadian flora and fauna… and if they don’t send Canadians to monitor the taps that will be installed all along the U.S. leg of the pipeline.

        Under those conditions, go for it!

  3. As the consequences of the CAGW alleviation programs becomes apparent, the True Believers want to double down on the existing programs. Despite the evident failure of programs like the Energiewende in Germany, or the green programs in Australia to even reduce CO2 emissions, they still have faith.
    As most of the business and political communities were playing along with a movement they did not really understand or agree with, the metaphoric run for the exits could be abrupt.

    • Madness.

      It is business as usual for our number one competitor China until 2030.

      A back of the envelope calculation unequivocally shows the green scam forced solution does not work regardless of how much is spent.

  4. I still don’t get it:

    1. The warming is at night and mostly in the Arctic/Far North where the temperatures at night are already life threateningly cold. A little warming there would be beneficial to life.

    2. CO2 fertilization is leading to greening of marginal H2O environments such as scrub lands and deserts enhancing life in those environments.

    3. Sea level rise is at a pace that the slowest snail could migrate out of the way of, so surely highly evolved humans of the progressive bent can find a solution to a “100 year catastrophe in slow motion”.

    4. The geologic record has shown the Earth has been both hotter and higher in carbon dioxide without reaching either a thermal tipping point or decreasing the flourishing of life.

    5. From the prospective of C3 plants, the pre-industrial revolution CO2 level was very near an extinction-level event. Having several hundred parts per million between that limit and current CO2 levels is in everyone’s best interest.

    That’s my case and I refuse to budge from it, though I continue to argue it from a pseudonym. I do work in academia after all and that is where one goes to close ones mind to alternatives these days.

  5. I fear it is not a matter of closed minds but rather intentional deception. They know the planet isn’t warming towards an end of days horizon nor that the climate is changing on the sole strength of man burning fossil fuel But Fear and guilt drummed into the culture on a steady daily drumbeat will cower the dumbed down public school masses into submission and acceptance of central government control and provide the willing propagandist power, perk and privilege from the climate scientist to the news anchor. Celebrities all. There is a method to this worldwide madness.

  6. Companies didn’t report climate risk because it was a business issue. They reported it as a form of virtue signalling. Just as you tip your hat when a gangster walks by, companies made an appearance of being “woke.” It’s not an accounting disclosure — it’s public relations. And the need for it seems to be waning.

  7. Our corporate regulators ASIC and APRA did not notice that executives of banks and insurance companies were ripping off consumers with fees for no service , unconscionable conduct and all manner of ripoffs as being revealed in the Royal Commision into our banking sector and yet they worry about a lack of environmental reporting. The Royal Commission verifies that our regulators are as useless as some of the worst of our companies. time to focus on their knitting and do the job they are paid for. When they do that properly, then there may be time to worry about the weather.

  8. Never mind “climate risk”, it is high time businesses buckle down and include Space Alien risk in their reports. They also need to include the risks from BigFoot, witches, goblins, ghosts and ghouls and the heartbreak of psoriasis (yes, it’s real), and a whole host of threats too numerous to mention. If not, then there will be consequences. Lawsuit city indeed.

    • MarkW has it right. The risk is political and cultural. There’s no telling how the politicians, media, “environmentalists” and universities will screw things up more than they have, but they believe they are the climate Joan of Arc, and screw things up they will. Facts and actual observations be damned!

    • Spot on. The most relevant ‘disclosures’ I’ve seen have had words to the effect that ‘Considering the uncertainty around provable risks from climate change, the largest risks to our operation come from Government policies.’
      Can’t say fairer than that!

  9. Climate impact statements are not the the only examples of bureaucratic stupidity. I worked for many years in medical laboratory science, and one day the great and the good decreed that all chemicals in use should have accompanying safety data paperwork.
    This meant that even materials innocuous in normal use such as sodium chloride all required a safety data sheet. The preparation of these wasted company time, and wasted our laboratory time filing them. Of course, visiting inspectors would need to see that these were all properly filed!
    I have a material safety data sheet from one prominent chemical supplier. They undoubtedly had fun putting together this sheet relating to – (drum roll) – water!
    We are advised that if we swallow any, we should wash our mouths out with water. In case of contact with skin, we are to immediately wash the affected area with soap and copious amounts of water. In the event of accidental release, we should wear a respirator, chemical safety goggles, rubber boots and heavy rubber gloves, and then absorb the spill on sand or vermiculite and place in closed containers for heavy disposal. We are also told to avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing.
    This is what happens when science, technology, and politics mix – as in the supposed dangerous man made global warming tale.

    • Either they were having fun or using boilerplate hazardous material blurbage. Would have been extra cool if they listed it as a material safety data sheet for DiHydrogen MonOxide (DHMO).

      • John: yes, it’s listed as dihydrogen oxide – and alternatively as distilled water! I ‘m certain that they were having a sly dig at the non-scientific bureaucracy; there surely can’t be another explanation.

        • Ah, then they were certainly having fun and a poke in the eye to the non-scientific bureaucracy. They deserve kudos.

  10. “Easier not to say anything about climate risk, or to say something vague and meaningless which can’t be used as a reason to sue you if you get it wrong.”

    Pity we cant sure Al Gore, Micheal Mann and the IPCC.

    • You can sue if you like, and you might even win, if you have enough money.

      Six Italian scientists and a government official were sentenced to six years in prison because they downplayed the risks of a large earthquake.

  11. As usual, Eric just makes stuff up and hopes no one challenges him. “Coal demand is surging.”

    “Global demand for coal should remain nearly flat between 2017 and 2022, resulting in a decade of stagnation for coal consumption, according to the International Energy Agency’s annual coal market report.

    Global coal consumption fell 1.9% to 5,357 million tonnes of coal equivalent (Mtce) last year”

    • “As usual, Eric just makes stuff up and hopes no one challenges him. “Coal demand is surging.” “Global demand for coal should remain nearly flat between 2017 and 2022”

      But Eric didn’t make the claim about global demand, but about Asian demand for Australian coal:

      Imagine for a moment you are the chief auditor of a coal company. What would you write in your company report?

      There are so many conflicting signals. Demand is surging – Japan and China are competing with each other to finance thousands of new coal plants throughout Asia and the developing world.

    • in 2017 aus still had coalmines in shutdown mode
      since then?
      rehiring and running thanks
      plus the new adani is underway
      wa and qld are picking up jobswise in mining
      a huge lot of small towns and people looking to lose their homes are now happier

  12. Sample Climate Risk Statement:

    “Climate risk faced by this company falls into two categories: the effects of climate changes and the political response to feared climate changes. On the first, actual changes are wildly exaggerated by the climate alarm industry. However, even the worst scenarios they tout put damaging results so far into the future that, using reasonable present-value discounting procedures (7% discount rate), any threat to this company are negligible and may be ignored.

    “The political response to alarmist scenarios, aligns well with the predictability of insane behavior. As such, the extent of adverse legislation is difficult to forecast. We can expect new and extended laws and regulations which raise the price of the fuels that our company and national economy must have to survive and thrive. And, such legislation also threatens the actual availability of that energy. Counterbalancing these large potential negative factors for this company, is the possibility – and how long before it may occur – of a return to sanity of the voters, who may at any time vote these lunatics out of office.

    “So, the climate risk which this company faces is extreme but at the same time is incalculable.”

  13. “…information that is provided is often “fragmented” and of limited use to investors…” As an ardent investor who lives off my investments, I find such information extremely valuable. It tells me which companies are wasting money either trying to be PC, or really believe it. Like GE. They have to hoping for another liberal president here in the US to make their windmill production profitable. Else they would have dumped that sector ling ago.

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