With the explosive growth of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing in recent years, it appears that we may be at or approaching an inflection point. As ESG investing becomes ever more prominent, it may be timely to ask whether, as currently practiced, it considers all issues of material importance to investors.

In this commentary, we suggest that current ESG research, analysis and investing practices pay insufficient attention to one of most important issues of our time: how people, societies and companies will adapt to a changing climate, and what that portends for stock and corporate bond investments.

To their credit, the sponsors of several prominent initiatives to promote climate-related disclosure (such as CDP) expressly request information on organizational risks and plans to address them. Accordingly, there is at least some expectation that such disclosures would describe alternatives to business-as-usual conditions and how the reporting entity might respond to them. Perusing a typical annual report or 10-K will show, however, that even today most corporate planning and forward-looking disclosures reflect the assumption of stable business conditions.

(Entities issuing securities — stocks or bonds — in the U.S. that may be purchased by the public must provide regular disclosure of important operating and financial information at defined intervals. These requirements include the issuance of an annual report and accompanying audited summary of key financial information [Form 10-K], as well as quarterly financial reports [Form 10-Q].)

Profound changes in climate and severe weather are locked in for the next several centuries and will comprise "the new normal." Given this increasingly clear reality, mitigation is necessary to keep us from moving too far out into uncharted and very dangerous territory. Equally important though, is how well we will adapt to the inevitable changes.

Read the full article about ESG adaption by Peter A. Soyka at GreenBiz.