June 7, 2022

In an updated legal opinion, Hansell reaffirms the role of the boards of directors in addressing climate risk

7 June 2022, Toronto – The Canada Climate Law Initiative (CCLI) reports that renowned lawyer and governance expert Carol Hansell has updated her widely read opinion on the responsibilities of directors in addressing climate change risk.

Climate change and the risks it presents are undeniable. How should corporations and their boards address this risk? Are there standards and tools to support their work? Ms. Hansell explores the answers to these questions in her latest opinion, Climate Change Risk on the Boardroom Table.

Directors cannot ignore climate change risk. It is no longer possible for directors to ignore climate change whendischarging their duties to act in the best interest of the corporation. Stakeholders are increasingly demanding companies take tangible measures to address climate change risks. Ms. Hansell notes that shareholders are submitting more proposals; institutional investors are calling on companies to take action; and proxy advisory firms are pushing for enhanced disclosure. Regulators are also stepping in. Ms. Hansell’s opinion notes:

“Directors must put aside any preconceptions they may have about the reality or imminence of the [climate change] risk. Rather, they must put climate change on the board agenda as more than just a discussion point or an education session.”

Using her decades of expertise, Ms. Hansell sets out climate change reporting standards and frameworks as well as governance tools to help companies navigate these additional obligations. She has advised numerous Canadian companies and provided education sessions to boards and management teams on their role in managing climate change risks.

“Carol Hansell’s opinion on putting climate change risk on the boardroom table should be a resounding wake-up call. The risks of climate change for boards are, unfortunately, as great, if not greater, than other financial risks,” says Dr. Barnali Choudhury, Principal Co-Investigator, Canada Climate Law Initiative.

The full opinion can be found here.


About Carol Hansell

Carol Hansell is the Senior Partner of Hansell LLP, a member of the Hansell McLaughlin Advisory Group. Over her more than 30 years in practice, she has led major transactions for public and private corporations and governments. She now leads an independent firm dedicated to advising boards, management teams, institutional shareholders and regulators in connection with legal and governance challenges. She is regularly engaged in connection with special committee mandates, board investigations, governance design and reviews and shareholder engagement matters. Carol is also a principal with Hansell McLaughlin Advisory Inc., which, together with Hansell LLP, delivers integrated legal, governance, government relations and communications advice. For further information: www.hanselladvisory.com/team-member/carol-hansell/

About the Canada Climate Law Initiative

The Canada Climate Law Initiative (CCLI) is Canada’s climate governance knowledge mobilization and policy hub. Using our academic rigour and active partnerships, we bring together knowledge, leading practice, and trusted insights to advise Canadian businesses and governments on how to respond to today’s urgent climate risks and opportunities through effective climate governance. CCLI is led by five principal investigators, Dr. Janis Sarra, Dr. Carol Liao, and Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson from the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia, and Professor Cynthia Williams and Dr. Barnali Choudhury from the Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. For more information, visit www.ccli.ubc.ca.

CCLI acknowledges that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam).

Media Contacts

Carol Hansell
Hansell LLP

Melissa Reichwage
Communications Manager, Canada Climate Law Initiative