Senator Wiener’s 1st-in-Nation Climate Corporate Accountability Act Passes Assembly Judiciary Committee

June 22, 2022

SACRAMENTO - Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 260, the Climate Corporate Accountability Act (CCAA), passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee by a vote of 6-3. It will now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. SB 260 would be the first law in the country to require U.S.-based companies — those doing business in California and generating over $1 billion in gross annual revenue — to disclose all of their greenhouse gas emissions to the California Secretary of State’s office. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will analyze this data and create a report for the Secretary of State to publish online.

This legislation is the first of its kind in the country, and will create more climate transparency and accountability from major corporations. It’s co-sponsored by Carbon Accountable, Sunrise Bay Area, and California Environmental Voters (formerly California League of Conservation Voters).

“We have no time to waste: we need to curb carbon emissions drastically, or we all but guarantee a full-blown climate apocalypse,” said Senator Wiener. “Transparency and accountability are an important piece of this puzzle – especially when it comes to corporate carbon emissions. It’s imperative we understand large corporations’ carbon footprint so we can begin to figure out how to reduce it. If SB 260 becomes law, it will be a major win for our planet.

Under SB 260, companies will make annual public disclosures with a complete carbon emissions inventory encompassing three scopes: first, the corporations’ direct emissions, including fuel combustion; second, their emissions from purchasing and using electricity; and third, indirect emissions stemming from a number of sources, mainly a corporation’s supply chain. This will be the broadest and most comprehensive set of emissions reporting requirements in place for corporations. The bill will impact the vast majority of the country’s largest corporations, who almost all conduct business in California. Currently, corporations can voluntarily disclose their emissions, but few do.

Companies subject to SB 260 will be required to use a CARB-approved third party auditor to review and verify their carbon emissions inventory.

Climate change is an existential threat to our planet. With wildfires in California getting worse every year and sea levels rising, the people of California are already experiencing serious impacts of climate change. We must act quickly and boldly to change course. Even in California, we have not made nearly as much progress on reducing carbon emissions as needed to reverse the impacts of climate change. SB 260 will help drastically reduce corporate pollution by providing an accurate representation of corporate emission data and thus creating more incentives for companies to lower their emissions.

Currently, many of the largest corporations doing business in California are not subject to GHG reporting laws, and those who do report their emissions usually do not report their full emissions footprint. This allows large corporations to “green wash,” meaning they present a green veneer while actually having a major carbon impact. Corporations who do currently report their emissions — in order to appear as though they have a smaller carbon footprint — may only report on some of their activities, leaving out critical aspects of their supply chain and operations. The lack of transparency from corporate polluters makes it more difficult to regulate emissions and set appropriate reduction targets.

The people of California have a right to know how much corporations are polluting, and how their activities may be irreparably damaging our planet. Additionally, this information can help consumers make informed decisions about the impact of their choices when purchasing, patronizing and making investments in corporations.

Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) is a joint author of the legislation. Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) are principal co-authors. Senator Dave Min (D-Costa Mesa), Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), Alex Lee (D-Fremont) and Mark Stone (D-Santa Cruz) are co-authoring the legislation.