On the heels of the entry into force of the historic Paris agreement on climate change, a legal opinion declares that directors who don’t properly consider the material impacts of climate change on their business risk personal liability for breach of duty. With this, business leaders are inexorably confronted with the need to consider climate change and sustainability risks for their companies, and to price, mitigate, and manage them accordingly. Is your business ready to bring climate change and sustainability to the board?
This past month the world celebrated the ratification of the historic Paris climate change agreement, years sooner than expected, particularly given that is the single largest piece of climate change legislation ever enacted. The agreement, signed by 196 attending parties, achieves a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. It was the outcome of the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Paris from 30 November to 12 December 2015.
It’s being called the “great flood of 2015”, as Britain has been pummelled by seven storms this winter, including Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank. Further, emergency services and volunteers have been working around the clock to deal with the immense damage caused by the opening of a barrier on the River Foss on Boxing Day for a four-day period, flooding a large swath of York, in a controversial attempt to stop the flood spread caused by the downpour. In total, more than 180 flood warning and flood alerts are now in place across the UK and 27 “danger to live” warnings are in effect across central and norther England and Wales.
Along with the floodgates, many questions have been raised as a result of the catastrophic financial consequences of the storms of this winter regarding the state of preparedness of the UK’s public and private sector in responding to climate change today. They concern not just how the flood defences are inadequate to handle the “new normal” of more severe and frequent extreme weather events facing the UK, but how risk management solutions such as flood insurance are failing the public as the full extent of the total uninsurable losses, and the slowness in getting EU and national grants and insurance payments to those in imminent need, is revealed. They both point to the need to explore what financial solutions are available to enable the UK to mitigate climate risk and buy time in the short term while investing in the environmental solutions that scientists have already identified as necessary to reduce climate change in the long-term (eg. replacing the use of fossil fuels with renewables and restocking carbon sinks).
DOI: 10.15200/winn.145190.04852 provided by The Winnower, a DIY scholarly publishing platform