GCs addressing climate-change risk

Organizations need to understand and manage climate-related legal risks and GCs must guide their responses with board responsibilities, disclosure obligations and investor inquiries in mind.

Corporations in many sectors are facing growing pressure to address Climate Change and show their customers, and the public, that they are serious about it. The ways in which counsel inside corporations (GCs) respond to Climate Change challenges will vary depending on their industry, location and regulatory environment.

Proactive measures from a variety of fields provide key insights for necessary action. State Street Global Advisors – a global asset manager – divides Climate Change risk into three categories: physical risk, regulatory risk and economic risk. Identification of risk must come before mitigation measures can be designed to protect the organization. The Canadian Coalition for Good Governance recommends that companies institute a stand-alone sustainability committee or update the mandate of their Environmental, Health and Safety committee. Organizations must also be weary of "transition risk,” which Bank of England Governor Mark Carney calls “most challenging”. This type of risk stems from dealing with rising public pressure to transition economies to a low-carbon footprint: that pressure is often felt by corporations through consumer boycotts, regulatory changes or damaged local community relationships.   

McMillan LLP Associate Ravipal Bains, based in Vancouver, developed six practical approaches to help GCs improve their organization’s management of Climate Change risks. He outlines these approaches at https://lexpert.ca/article/risks-in-climate-change-1/?p=&sitecode=lex. Follow @Lexpert on Twitter.