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Sep 21, 2023

Interviewer: AUDREY JAQUISS. The California legislature has passed two bills, now awaiting Governor Gavin Newsome’s signature, that potentially open up a new frontier in environmental law and climate action. As law professor MICHAEL GERRARD and Wharton professor ERIC ORTS explain, SB 253 would require that companies disclose their carbon emissions, and SB 261 their vulnerability to climate-related risks, in a standardized, verifiable way, making it more difficult for them to hide behind vague mission statements and inflated carbon offsets. In their discussion with political scientist Audrey Jaquiss, Gerrard and Orts point out that, while these laws would not directly mandate emission reductions, they would put a powerful tool in the hands of activists, legislators, shareholders and consumers to demand measurable progress in the fight against climate change. They also discuss potential roadblocks, both in the form of legal challenges and relentless lobbying efforts to weaken the final regulations, but remain hopeful that, as it has in the past, California's laws might have an impact well beyond its borders.