Assessing the Risk and Impact of Climate, and Social and Human Capital on a Corporation: An In-house Counsel’s Perspective
Mary Kennard, Vice President & General Counsel (retired), American University
With the exception of the few skeptics, climate change has been acknowledged worldwide, and climate change is impacting our environment globally. Companies, and the things we produce, and the way we live, are impacting our environment and not always for the better. Today, our environmental, social and economic challenges are intensified by the impact of climate change. As in-house counsel, we have a role in assessing and reducing the impact of climate on our environment. I believe we also have a duty to do so. As counsel, our job is to measure risk and report objectively to our clients about risks, as well as the opportunities presented by those risks. It therefore seems obvious that in addition to measuring other types of business risk, in-house counsel have a duty to both measure and assess the impact of climate-risk on their clients’ business. Although there is increased tension between profitability and good corporate citizenship, both may be achievable if appropriate care is given to transparency and timely disclosure of climate-risk.
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