Is the President's Position on Climate Change an Issue for Corporate Governance?

When Rick Perry says global warming is an unproven theory  — in defiance of mainstream science — he seems to be pandering to the “tea party” faithful that he needs for the GOP nomination. Nearly 8 in 10 Democrats believe that global warming is happening, as do just over 7 in 10 independents. Just over half of Republicans share that view. But only 34% of tea partiers accept the notion. (Perry’s climate views shared by ‘tea party’ faithful, survey says, LATimes, 9/9/2011)

Perry went on to compare himself, or those who agree with him, to 17th century astronomer Galileo Galilei, who in Perry’s words also “got outvoted for a spell” when he adopted a minority opinion on a scientific issue. It would be far more accurate to compare Perry to Pope Urban VIII, who put Galileo on trial for heresy in 1633 because his conclusions that the Earth revolved around the sun contradicted Scripture. (Is it reasonable to compare Rick Perry to Galileo?, LATimes, 9/9/2011)

OK, Perry and the Tea Party don’t believe scientists. What about insurance companies? In the United Sates, (re)insurers are strategizing for the potential onslaught of climate change-related claims. Two and a half years ago the U.S. National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) mandated (re)insurer disclosure of financial risks due to climate change and actions taken to mitigate them. (Climate Change, Part IV: (Re)Insurance Industry Response)

Do companies that support Perry have their head in the sand on the most important risk issue we face or are they just rationally hoping to externalize costs a few years longer in what is possibly the next administration? Should this be a corporate governance issue? Personally, I think that companies supporting Perry face reputational risk, especially if they are already seen as climate change deniers.

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