Task force outlines framework for business, industry to report climate risks

TORONTO _ A global task force chaired by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is recommending the world’s businesses and industries to voluntarily adopt a universal approach for reporting the financial impact of climate change.

“Climate change is not only an environmental problem, but a business one as well,” Bloomberg said in his announcement Wednesday.

“We need business leaders to join us to help spread these recommendations across their industries in order to help make markets more efficient and economies more stable, resilient, and sustainable.”

The prominent American businessman was assigned the task last December, about the time political leaders from nearly 200 countries including Canada were meeting near Paris to negotiate a United Nations climate accord.

A Canadian representative on the 32-member Bloomberg task force notes that its recommendations are intended to help investors understand the financial risks and opportunities for the private sector arising from the effects of climate change.

“It’s about integrating these disclosures with the rest of the mainstream financial disclosure of a company,” said Stephanie Leaist, a task force member representing the Toronto-based Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

“CPPIB has been engaging with companies around climate change for 10 years now, so (the report) is very consistent with what we’ve been doing for a decade,” Leaist said in a phone interview from London, England.

“I think there’s a role for investors to play in urging adoption of these recommendations.”

The Bloomberg task force’s 66-page report, released Wednesday, calls for organizations to routinely disclose a potential range of impacts of climate on its business, how the risks are identified, the way the risks are measured, and how top managers and boards govern the process.

The report recognizes that some economic sectors will face a bigger challenge than others, and it provides supplemental guidance on how to impart the information that investors require.

The release of the task force report will begin a 60-day period for public consultations and feedback, until Feb. 12.

As the Bloomberg report was being released, Canada’s largest grocery company announced that it’s aiming to cut its carbon footprint by 20 per cent compared with a 2011 benchmark within four years and by 30 per cent by 2030 _ consistent with Canada’s commitments under the Paris climate accord.

The accord _ which calls for signatory countries to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide in order to limit the rise in the global temperature _ has been called into doubt by the U.S. election victory of Donald Trump, who has said during the campaign that he’d “cancel” the agreement signed by President Barack Obama.

In Canada, however, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recently reached an agreement with eight provinces that commits to establish a national pricing scheme for carbon emissions.