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44% of Canadian Companies Fail to Disclose Climate-Related Risk

Close to half of Canadian companies are failing to tell investors about the climate-related risks they face prompting Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), which represents federal, provincial, and territorial regulators, to consider a crackdown.

The organization “wrapped up its year-long investigation Thursday into what kind of information publicly-traded firms have been disclosing to investors about the risks and financial impacts associated with climate change,” National Observer reports. While 56% of the companies it reviewed, mostly largely firms, included “specific climate change-related disclosure” in their annual regulatory filings, 22% only supplied “boilerplate disclosure” and another 22% provided “no disclosure at all”.

The Observer notes that “publicly-traded companies are required to disclose risk factors related to the firm and its business that could influence investors’ decisions to purchase their securities.” But “there is an abundance of uncertainty surrounding climate disclosure, the securities administrators found, including what kind of timelines firms need to be looking at, how exactly to measure risks, and even whether to label something as ‘climate change.’”

On the strength of the review, “we now have a better understanding of the current state of climate change-related disclosure in Canada,” said CSA Chair Louis Morisset. “Moving forward, we will aim to improve the disclosure of risks and related governance and oversight processes.”

The Observer notes that some investors see climate change as a more immediate risk than publicly-traded companies acknowledge—and that some businesses acknowledge climate-related risks without necessarily attributing them to climate change.

“Based on our consultations, it is apparent that many (firms and investors) share the view that the timing of climate change-related risks and impacts presents a significant challenge,” the CSA report stated. But when it came to linking those risks to their root cause, “several (firms) explained that these physical risks could occur…independent of any climate change-related impacts, and that attributing such risks to climate change to the exclusion of other factors was neither necessary, nor appropriate.”

The CSA study found that climate-related disclosure was more common “among issuers in certain industries, notably those in the oil and gas industry.” Fossils were actually “the only industry” where the majority of firms said they disclosed climate risks. “Some issuers in other industries provided significantly less disclosure in respect of the implications of climate change for their business and operations, or no disclosure at all.”