Canadian Climate Law Initiative


The Global Risk Institute (GRI) yesterday published a paper titled “Climate-Related Legal Risks for Financial Institutions: Executive Brief” (the “Paper”), authored by Dr. Janis Sarra with the Canada Climate Law Initiative and Resilient LLP’s Lisa DeMarco. The Paper provides an overview of the many risks now faced by the financial sector including regulatory liability, securities law litigation, fiduciary duty risk, professional indemnity insurance risk, “greenwashing” litigation, commercial contract risk, litigation against governments, and civil lawsuits. The Paper also provides “best practice tips” for financial institutions, risk managers, and board risk committees to consider and implement as a means to limit their liability and reduce their climate-related risks. These recommendations include, among others: Undertaking a high-level assessment of litigation exposure across loan and policy books, investment portfolios, and operations; Embedding management of climate-related risks as part of core business risk management; Investigating and disclosing climate-related vulnerabilities in investment portfolios; and Creating an action plan to reduce Scope 1, 2, and 3 carbon emissions as evidence of a financial institution’s due diligence in addressing climate-related financial risk. The first page of the Paper appears below. The full text of the paper is available on the Global Risk Institute website here. For further information or to discuss the contents of this bulletin, please contact Lisa DeMarco at lisa@resilientllp.com.

The Canadian Climate Law Initiative today released a new opinion by pensions lawyer Randy Bauslaugh, titled Climate Change: Legal Implications for Canadian Pension Plan Fiduciaries and Policy-Makers (the Opinion). The Opinion makes clear that (i) pension fund fiduciaries have a duty to consider climate-related financial risks and opportunities and (ii) failing to do so may lead to personal liability for economic, reputational, or organizational loss. This bulletin briefly summarizes the key findings of the Opinion: Legal responsibilities of plan fiduciaries. Climate change poses immediate and long-term economic and portfolio risks and opportunities that result in the need to take a multi-generational oversight approach. In addition, flowing from the fiduciary’s standard of care and duty of loyalty, climate change is a primary consideration of fiduciaries in advancing the primary purpose of plan fiduciaries: providing periodic payments to individuals after retirement and until death in respect of their service as employees. The financial relevance of climate change to fiduciary investment responsibilities. The financial relevance of climate change is supported by its acceptance by the financial services sector, including bankers, accountants, insurers, investment managers, securities regulators, academics, and public sector organizations, as well as the unequivocal acceptance of the causes and impacts of climate change by all parties in the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision upholding the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (read our earlier bulletin here). Must plan fiduciaries consider implications of climate change? The Opinion notes that with the growing consensus around the materiality of climate-related risks and opportunities, failure to take climate change into account may result in a fiduciary facing:  -removal;  -court-ordered disclosure of information related to climate change-related risks;  -fines and penalties under pension standards legislation; and -personal financial responsibility for investment underperformance or loss resulting from failure to properly manage climate change risks and opportunities, including equitable compensation or exemplary damages Please contact Lisa DeMarco at lisa@resilientllp.com should…