• Rule would encourage companies to disclose carbon footprint
  • Oil companies to airplane makers would be affected by rule

The Obama administration is proposing a new requirement designed to encourage oil refiners, airplane manufacturers and other companies doing business with the U.S. government to disclose their carbon footprint and what they’re doing to shrink it.

A rule proposed Wednesday by the U.S. agency that coordinates the government’s $400-billion-plus supply chain would require contractors and vendors to reveal if they publicly report greenhouse gas emissions, their plans for paring them and the risks that climate change pose to their operations.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council’s measure "leverages the federal government’s purchasing power to push for this type of unprecedented disclosure government-wide,” the White House said in a blog post. It "sends another clear market signal that there is strong interest for disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related risk data."

A range of companies that do business with the U.S. could be affected, including aircraft manufacturers Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., shipmakers such as General Dynamics Corp. and Bechtel Group Inc., and weapons suppliers such as Raytheon Co. It also could spur more disclosure from oil companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Valero Energy Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp., which are among the top fuel suppliers to the Pentagon.

Corporate Disclosure

Separate, private campaigns to force similar corporate climate disclosure have had limited success, particularly with oil companies.

At Exxon Mobil’s annual meeting Wednesday, investors rejected most shareholder resolutions touching on climate, but adopted one that would make it easier for activist investors to elect directors to the board. Chevron Corp. investors on Wednesday also overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to pare exploratory spending -- one of five climate resolutions up for a vote during its meeting in San Ramon, California.

For more on the shareholder meetings, click here.

While most shareholder resolutions on climate have not been adopted by oil producers, they are keeping pressure on the companies to address the issue.

The administration’s proposal, subject to public comment through July 25, was applauded by environmentalists and disclosure advocates, including New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The administration is taking an important step for disclosure, but that should be buttressed by the U.S. making climate considerations central in decisions on contracts, policy and permits, David Turnbull, campaigns director for Oil Change International, an environmental group, said in e-mail.

"Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be going to companies who are standing in the way of climate action," Turnbull said.

Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News and its parent company Bloomberg LP, leads a panel appointed by the Financial Stability Board to draw up voluntary guidelines for companies to disclose climate risk.

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