The Culture Wars Jump the Tracks: Private Climate Governance, “Net Zero” Prospects, and Politics
BLP / SGI-OSF Seminars in Business & Society 2022-2023
With Cynthia A. Williams - Professor of Law | Indiana University, Maurer School of Law
In 2021, as part of the COP 26 climate negotiations in Glasgow, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, GFANZ, was announced. This Alliance of banks, asset managers, and insurance companies, with more than $130 trillion of assets under management today, was based on a pledge by the participating companies to work towards net-zero status in their businesses by 2050 or sooner. By today, the Alliance is in disarray, with founding member banks and asset managers in both the United States and Canada being targeted from the right for their “woke capitalism,” and from the left for the disinformation between pledges in GFANZ versus their continued funding of new oil and gas exploration and development. In the workshop, Prof. Williams will explore the implications of these developments for the potential of soft law standards to have a significant role in emissions reductions. After all, the global disclosure initiative, the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD), has been a great success, and is being incorporated into “hard law” in several jurisdictions. Is there a difference between what is reasonable to expect from private governance of disclosure versus private governance of substantive standards?
Prof. Cynthia Williams is the former Osler Chair in Business Law at Osgoode Hall Law School and is currently a Professor of Law at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law and Professor of U.S. and Securities Law at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam. She is a leading academic promoting greater required disclosure of social and environmental data in the U.S., and in Canada was a co-founder and principal investigator for the Canada Climate Law Initiative (CCLI), which investigates the obligations of board members and pension fund trustees to incorporate climate change into their strategies, oversight, and disclosure.