In the last few months, some major changes in environmental and industrial regulation in theTen Across region and the nation have taken shape. These shifts in policy or opinion could havea significant impact on the country’s current net-zero targets in the coming weeks, months, and years. Trendlines we are following on this issue:
- Exxon suing two of its investors over their effort to enforce more explicit targets and timetables for reducing the company’s carbon-emissions suggests public and private support for corporate ESG commitments is on the decline. (Semafor, Jan. 23, 2024) —Learn more about what Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) commitments entail in this Ten Across Conversations podcast.
- A polarizing Supreme Court decision expected this summer could reconfigure the way federal law is currently put up for review. If a statute is at all unclear, a 40-year court precedent set by the 1984 case Chevron v. The Natural Resources Defense Council has deferred final interpretation of the law to the federal agency involved. While many are concerned a reversal of this previous decision would hobble regulatory powers of air and water quality or workplace safety standards, others argue this procedure of review has often diminished congressional power; in turn, heightening the power of the presidency and unelected federal administrators.
- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently banned the United Kingdom-based Barclays bank from the state’s municipal bond market after the company failed to respond to his inquiries regarding its ESG commitments. According to Paxton’s office, Barclays was determined to be in violation of Texas law for affiliating with the United Nations’ Net Zero Alliance. Barclays was the state’s ninth-largest underwriter last year and is the 16th firm to be banned in Texas since 2022 for its decision to support the growing energy transition market. (BankingDive, Jan. 29, 2024)
- Last fall, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed two landmark climate disclosure bills into law, which are expected to have a global impact.Together, the bills require companies with an annual revenue greater than $1 billion to disclose both direct and indirect emissions included in their operations and for companies making $500 million or more to identify and plan to mitigate their climate risks. California isn’t the first to institute such climate regulations; it is following the lead of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and other countries or cities. But given that it is the fifth-largest economy in the world, this legislation stands to have a tremendous impact in making voluntary emissions disclosures mandatory for an unprecedented portion of the global economy.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has dropped out of the 2024 presidential race and political strategists believe he will now attempt to enact his vision for a national energy plan within the Sunshine State through 2027 when his current term ends. His goals outlined on the campaign trail included the continued prohibition of state and local governments from considering ESG issues and the streamlining and green lighting of fossil fuel projects. A spokesperson for republicEn, a conservative climate action group, called DeSantis’ energy policy a “slap in the face to Floridians who are suffering” with the effects of climate change. (Inside Climate News, Jan. 22, 2024) —As the article explains, despite Florida’s executive stance on climate change, the state has become uniquely adept at directing available funds toward climate resilience projects. Our podcast interview with Jacksonville University disaster law professor Latisha Nixon-Jones looks at why this is the case, as well as the potential side effects of frequently prioritizing recovery over mitigation.
According to the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA) compiled by more than 500 scientists and experts, significantly reducing and eventually eliminating greenhouse gas emissions is the single greatest method for reducing the growing risks associated with human-caused warming. As mentioned in our recent Ten Across Summit panel on the NCA, recognition of climate change is no longer a hotly debated subject—90% of Floridians and 74% of all Americans believe in its existence according to this UAF survey—and there has never been a larger sum of federal funds available to put toward mitigating and adapting to climate impacts. While bipartisan consensus on climate policy is difficult in many state and federal legislatures—including those in the Ten Across geography—pressure is mounting to strategically deploy these intersecting priorities to support the need for more resilient communities and energy economies.
However, it is often in determining the best language, policy, and financial mechanisms for this goal of reducing emissions where dissidence can take place. We will be keeping a close eye on these developing stories, as their outcomes will be highly indicative of how the nation chooses to approach climate action in 2024 and beyond.
Is there a story we might have missed?
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