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Axios' Courtenay Brown and Ceres CEO Mindy Lubber. Photo: Axios

CEOs feel the pressure to take action on climate change in the absence of government regulation, executives at Patagonia and Ceres said at an Axios virtual event on Tuesday.

What they're saying: Federal and state regulators, starting with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Reserve, should not let policies to offset climate change be voluntary for businesses, Mindy Lubber, CEO and president of the sustainable investment advocacy group Ceres, said.

  • "I'm going to say that it is likely over the next two years we'll see the Securities and Exchange Commission mandate the disclosure of climate risk," she said.
  • Allison Herren Lee, the regulator's acting chair, asked for staff assessment on climate change disclosures in March.
  • "We also may see the Federal Reserve starting to oversee banks and financial institutions because they realize now that climate risk is a systemic risk to our entire economy and that you can't leave it voluntary," Lubber said.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ben Geman: Improving climate risk disclosure has been an increasing priority for advocates in recent years. Now they see a chance to embed the concept in mandatory rules, not just looser SEC "guidance" and private sector-led efforts, notably the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

One level deeper: "I think both industry and government have been really slow to tackle some of the biggest problems that we face as humans," Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert told Axios' Dan Primack.

  • "It's the climate crisis, the ecological crisis. I think it's voting rights. I think you see a whole host of things where our systems are kind of cracking at the foundations."
  • "And I think that the mechanisms that are intended to prevent that are not showing up consistently. I think that business is now begrudgingly stepping into a space that I think has been under-supported by government."

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Jul 30, 2021 - Podcasts

Suni Lee wins the gold

Yesterday in Tokyo, gymnast Sunisa Lee became the sixth U.S. woman to win an Olympic all-around gold. She’s the first Hmong American to not only win but compete at the Olympics.

  • Plus, how climate fares in the infrastructure deal.
  • And, U.S. GDP growth falls short of expectations.

Guests: Kare 11 News anchor Gia Wang, Axios' Ben Geman and Courtenay Brown.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Climate and energy takeaways from the bipartisan infrastructure plan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate's on the cusp of debating a big energy and climate package that says plenty about today's political and scientific moment.

Catch up fast: Text of the bipartisan infrastructure plan isn't out yet, but a summary in circulation and releases from lawmakers and the White House offer contours of the proposal.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
30 mins ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.