In order to reduce harmful carbon pollution, we must first understand where most of it is coming from.
We know that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of planet-heating pollution. Two new bills in the California state legislature aim to hold companies accountable by forcing them to disclose information about their emissions and their sustainability efforts. If oil and gas lobbyists have their way, though, these bills won’t get passed.
Earlier this year, California State Senator Scott Wiener introduced the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act (SB 253). If passed, the bill would require businesses with annual revenues of more than $1 billion to report all of their emissions.
The voluntary carbon market disclosures bill, introduced by Assembly Member Jesse Gabriel, would require firms that buy and sell carbon offsets — credits companies can buy that represent a reduction in their carbon footprints — to disclose further information about these offsets.
Studies suggest that up to 90% of carbon offsets do not result in meaningful reductions in carbon emissions. The bill would require greater transparency from buyers and sellers of carbon offsets, allowing legislators and consumers to hold companies accountable for their claims of sustainability.
If passed, these bills could present a major shift in corporate transparency and accountability in regard to the climate crisis.
“This would be pretty monumental,” Mary Creaseman, CEO of California Environmental Voters, told the Guardian.
Who’s against it?
Unsurprisingly, oil and gas lobbyists aren’t fans of these bills. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a trade association of businesses in the oil and gas industry, has already spent $2.38 million trying to prevent the bills from being passed.
Opponents of the bills are focusing on swaying moderate Democrats who have aligned themselves with corporate interests in the past. Though Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state assembly 62 to 18, a similar climate disclosures bill was blocked last year by moderate Democrats.
An additional 15 legislators abstained from the vote, and the Guardian found that these 15 legislators have received millions of dollars from the California Chamber of Commerce and oil and gas lobbyists.
Where are the bills now?
The voluntary market disclosures bill passed the assembly and is moving on to the state senate.
California voters can call their assemblymember to express their support of the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act through California Environmental Voters.
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