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Directors’ Duties and Climate Risks


When CPD set out on this work in early 2016, we began with the premise that performance and leadership on sustainability-related risks in the Australian corporate sector were lagging – but that the time was ripe for business leaders and regulators to make a more constructive, forward-looking contribution on long-term sustainability challenges like climate change.

The centrepiece of this work was a ground-breaking legal opinion on directors’ duties and climate risk commissioned by CPD in partnership with the Future Business Council. The opinion found that company directors who ignore or mismanage climate-related risks could be held personally liable for breaching their legal duties under the Corporations Act. This analysis has been highly influential in the business community, and helped to spur major statements by Australian regulators APRA and ASIC on the importance of properly managing climate risks in the financial system. Together, the opinion and these developments have ensured that climate risks are firmly on the agenda for Australia’s leading corporates, financial institutions and regulatory bodies.

Our follow-on work has focussed on frameworks for better understanding climate risk, and understanding how this new emphasis on climate and other sustainability issues can help reshape finance across the board. Our award-wining research on climate scenarios gave investors and corporates new tools for understanding climate risk at a critical time. New work on how directors and decision makers in government board’s and authorities are obliged to respond to climate risk highlights the key role the public sector must play in this area. Meanwhile, we are working closely with stakeholders in the private sector, public sector and civil society on building a roadmap for a more sustainable Australian financial system, in line with exciting developments in Europe, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Latest Articles


Time for an Australian sustainable finance taskforce

Travers McLeod - July 2018

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on 22 July 2018. ASIC commissioner John Price.Photo: Jeremy Piper ASIC commissioner John Price left a Sydney audience in no room for doubt last month when...

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Climate Horizons | REPORT AND PUBLIC EVENT | June 2018

communications - June 2018

Full audio of ASIC Commissioner John Price’s address and the panel discussion at our public forum is here:   CPD has released its latest report on how Australian companies, investors...

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CPD climate work featured in 4Corners ‘Weather Alert’ report

communications - March 2018

Last night the ABC’s 4Corners program aired a special report about how Australian farmers, businesses and regulators are responding to climate change. CPD’s Sustainable Economy Program has been making the...

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CPD Board member Sam Mostyn on the evolving role of company directors

Travers McLeod - March 2018

Influential independent director and CPD Board Member Sam Mostyn delivered the  keynote at the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ 2018 Governance Summit on ‘’The evolving role of directors.” Full text...

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Building a Sustainable Economy | PUBLIC FORUM | November 2017

communications - November 2017

  On 29 November, CPD hosted the final event in our special 10th anniversary series – a public forum in Sydney on the theme ‘Building a sustainable economy.’ CPD’s Sustainable...

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Climate horizons: next steps for scenario analysis in Australia | DISCUSSION PAPER AND PUBLIC FORUM | November 2017

communications - November 2017

Today CPD releases a new discussion paper on how business and investors can use scenario analysis in order to better understand and respond to climate-related risks and opportunities. The paper,...

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Public Forum: Building a Sustainable Economy | EVENT | 29 November 2017 | Sydney

communications - November 2017

RSVP for free here.   When   29 November 2017 Wednesday Start 5:30pm – End 7:30pm Where Level 40 Governor Macquarie Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney NSW 2000 MinterEllison RSVP for...

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Directors’ Duties and Climate Risks | PUBLIC PANEL | June 2017

communications - June 2017

On June 8, CPD and EY convened an expert panel to discuss the role company directors need to play in response to climate-related risks to their business, and what this...

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Invitation to Directors’ Duties & Climate Risks Business Panel | June 8 | Sydney

communications - June 2017

If you can join, please RSVP by Tuesday 6 June here  

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Climate Risk and Directors’ Duties | PUBLIC PANEL | February 2017

communications - February 2017

  Last Thursday in Melbourne, we co-hosted a booked-out public event on the directors’ duties work with the Future Business Council. The event featured CPD’s Sam Hurley as well as Bryan...

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APRA lays down a marker on climate change risks in the financial sector

communications - February 2017

Today Australia’s prudential regulator has laid down an important marker on climate-related risks and their impact on the financial sector. This new statement from the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority came in a speech...

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New legal opinion and business roundtable on climate risks and directors’ duties | LEGAL OPINION and ROUNDTABLE | October 2016

communications - October 2016

CPD has released a new legal opinion on the extent to which Australian corporate law permits (and indeed requires) company directors to take climate change into account when making decisions about...

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Recent progress on climate risk has underlined the opportunity for policymakers and industry to build strategic policy roadmap for sustainable finance in Australia.

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CPD’s recent work on climate change has focused on the implications of a changing climate for Australia’s national security. Our agenda-setting report The Longest Conflict (2015)

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We are currently undertaking new research to map Commonwealth and Victorian grants and programs that promote sustainable agriculture and food systems and biodiversity enhancement on private land.

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In 2016 we released a discussion paper by CPD Research Associate Alexander Marks on the future of Australia’s electricity system.

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