Skip to content Skip to footer

As climate crisis reshapes business, board directors must rethink legal duties – New Legal Primer examines 20 jurisdictions and European Union

24 June 2021 – A new legal Primer produced jointly by the Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative and the Climate Governance Initiative (CGI), examines the fast-changing landscape of climate risks and opportunities for business, and the implications for board directors’ legal obligations. The Primer on Climate Change: Directors’ Duties and Disclosure Obligations, which examines 20 countries and the European Union, is the first-ever legal primer that takes a cross-jurisdictional view across such a broad sample of major civil law and common law systems. The Primer shines a spotlight on a set of core universal principles, as well as notable variations in breadth and stringency between the leading jurisdictions and the broader group.

This Primer follows the publications of expert legal opinions by independent counsel on climate change and directors’ duties, the earliest of which was in 2016 in Australia (Hutley Opinion, subsequently updated in 2019 and 2021), followed by Canada in 2020 (Hansell Opinion) and Singapore in April 2021 (Chan Opinion). As these opinions began to gain prominence in specialist legal circles and spark further such initiatives in other common law countries, the CGI reasoned that board directors needed to be in a position to understand and act on their findings.