SAFE Working Paper No. 342

Private Companies: The Missing Link on The Path to Net Zero

Global consensus is growing on the contribution that corporations and finance must make towards the net-zero transition in line with the Paris Agreement goals. However, most efforts have ultimately focused on public companies. This article argues that such a focus falls short of providing a comprehensive approach to the problem of climate change. It particularly examines the contribution of private companies to climate change and the phenomenon of brown-spinning. We show that one cannot afford to ignore private companies in the net-zero transition. Yet, private companies lack several disciplining mechanisms available to public companies, such as institutional investor engagement, certain corporate governance arrangements, and transparency through regular disclosure obligations. Nevertheless, along with some equally applicable generic regulatory instruments, private companies might be subject to external push by their financiers, banks. The article closes with policy implications. Primarily, we discuss and evaluate the recent push to extend climate-related disclosure requirements to private companies.