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Climate Change, Corporate Strategy, and Corporate Law Duties
Articles in Law Reviews & Other Academic Journals
  • Perry E. Wallace, American University Washington College of Law
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Although greenhouse-gas management now ranks among the world’s great challenges, this status did not obtain instantly—or easily. Today, however, reservations about the validity of global warming as a major threat are fading. They are fading, appropriately, as rapidly as some ice sheets and glaciers are melting. Indeed, the steady flow of new, compelling evidence joins an already considerable base of scientific, economic, and other certainties about the subject. The result of this evolution in climate-change certainty has been major change of global dimensions. In notable ways, the structures and the functions of governmental, economic, and social institutions around the world are now being revised. Moreover, these revisions typically derive from one model or another of a carbon-constrained planet. Corporations, because of their past and continuing roles in creating the problem, will be substantially affected by emerging market and regulatory cultures. “The consequences [of these market and regulatory dynamics] are not confined to ‘obvious’ sectors such as power generation, transport and heavy industry; virtually every company’s activities, business models and strategies will need to be completely rethought.” This Article explores the question of whether corporate- and securities-law duties can (or will in the future) play a role in influencing the rapidly growing movement toward corporate strategic planning for greenhouse gas management. Part I of the Article discusses corporate strategic-planning methodologies for such management. This Part describes the basic features of corporate approaches to developing and implementing strategies, policies, and practices. Important here are the risks, and also the opportunities, facing corporations and their stewards. Part II then evaluates the potential applicability of corporate- and securities-law provisions that might appear to be implicated in climate-change corporate strategic planning and implementation.
Citation Information
Wallace, Perry E. “Climate Change, Corporate Strategy, and Corporate Law Duties.” Wake Forest Law Review 44, no. 3 (2009): 757-776.