The Centre for Policy Development's New Paper on Climate Risk

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Front cover of discussion paper of executives sitting around a boardroom table

The independent policy institute Centre for Policy Development (CPD) has released a discussion paper Public Authority Directors’ Duties and Climate Change: Managing the latent financial and governance risks by Senior Adviser CPD Arjuna Dibley, Policy Director CPD Sam Hurley and lawyer Joshua Sheppard. In October 2018, the Office for the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability co-hosted roundtable discussions for this paper with CPD and Minter Ellison and participants included non-executive director and sustainability adviser Sam Mostyn (co-chair),  Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Dr Gillian Sparkes (co-chair), Minter Ellison Special Counsel Sarah Barker, Public Sector Commissioner Paul Grimes, CEO of Sustainability Victoria Stan Krpan, Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth Richard Leder, CEO of CPD Travers McLeod, Chair of the Centre for Policy Development Terry Moran, CPD board member Don Russell, Executive Director of ClimateWorks Anna Skarbek, Chairman of the Country Fire Authority Greg Smith, Chair of the Monash Sustainability Institute John Thwaites and Managing Director of Kathleen Townsend Executive Solutions Kathleen Townsend. Many of these participants were also involved in one-on-one consultations including Dr Gillian Sparkes.

The paper includes detailed case studies as well as breakdown and analysis of Commonwealth and Victorian Public Authority directors duties in relation to federal and state acts.

Key findings centre around the role of public authorities in relation to climate change and climate risks and the duties of care and due diligence to consider climate risk in their activities. The report states: “Despite impediments to enforcement, public sector directors are now increasingly likely to be closely scrutinised and held to account for climate risk management – especially given rising standards demanded of private corporations.”  

The report builds on the legal opinion of Noel Hutley SC https://www.ces.vic.gov.au/articles/announcement-insurance-council-australia-annual-forum and the APRA decision of February 2017 and has four policy proposals to assist public authorities to discharge their duties. They centre around a new whole-of-government toolkit and implementation strategy for considering and managing financial risks around climate change; formal ministerial statements of expectations for public authorities and appropriate legislative and regulatory changes to ensure “consistent consideration, management and disclosure of climate risk by public sector decision makers”.

Find out more by visiting www.cpd.org.au