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University of Memphis Law Review




It has been almost six decades since Rachel Carson’s ominous warning of pending environmental disaster. During 2019 the United Nations requested urgent action from world leaders, given that “just over a decade is all that remains to stop irreversible damage from climate change.” With every passing year, damage resulting from destructive climate change causes increased pain, suffering, death and massive property loss. During 2020 and 2021 alone, severe weather events have included: destructive fires in California; record breaking freeze, power outage, and threat to the electrical grid in Texas; continuation of disruptive drought in U.S. Western states; and record-breaking high temperatures in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Global recognition of threats posed by carbon emissions appears universal. For several years, U.S. intelligence agencies have considered climate change to be a risk to national security. During April 2021, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin described climate change as an “existential threat to national security.” As one of the first actions taken by the incoming Administration, president Biden observed, “The United States and the world face a profound climate crisis. We have a narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of that crisis and to seize the opportunity that tackling climate change presents.” We believe this paper contributes to the corporate governance discussion and understanding of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues.

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University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

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