Without diminishing the stark human tragedy of the horrendous recent California wild fires — lives lost, lives unalterably damaged — there is also this:
What, and who, is to blame.
PG&E, the giant western electric utility, is baring the brunt of blame. Faced with potential liabilities of $30 billion, it plans to file for bankruptcy. And its CEO has resigned.
The heart of the PG&E defense: the long-term effects of climate change.
Capsule of a Bloomberg report on the case:
“… more than a decade ago, severe weather bankrupted an electric company in New Orleans. Then it helped take down one in Houston. Now, in California, it has pushed PG&E Corp. to the brink…
“… for many months, PG&E has pointed to the culprit of a shifting climate that led to devastating fires and, now, crushing liabilities. ‘It’s a real wake-up call’ for business across the country, said Ian Monroe, chief executive officer of the socially responsible investment firm Ethos Capital.
“Whatever their exact cause, the California fires – and the utility’s response – have turned PG&E into a poster child for climate-change dangers. A bankruptcy would make it the largest company to seek protection while blaming the effects of a warming planet for the situation.”
Without a doubt a PG&E bankruptcy , and, potentially many other business climate-change cases in the courts and in public discourse, will play out for many years. So this Bloomberg report conclusion with its risk management assessment for investors — and for all of us: