The Challenges of Counting Climate Change Risks in Financial Markets

Policy Brief No. 62

June 9, 2015

Climate change has been identified in recent years as an investment risk, yet existing financial reporting standards do not adequately measure and communicate these risks to investors. A climate change risk disclosure regime has emerged in response, defined by a range of voluntary, regulatory and accounting governance initiatives. In spite of its promise, and the involvement of a range of influential financial constituencies, this nascent regime is highly fragmented and lacks coordination and enforcement. This policy brief describes the background for the climate change risk disclosure regime and the challenges that limit its effectiveness, and presents several policy recommendations to improve its capacity to measure and communicate climate change risks. It highlights the need to standardize climate change risk disclosure, and the need to develop strategies that can reduce uncertainty when assessing the financial risks of climate change.

About the Author

Jason Thistlethwaite is a former CIGI senior fellow and an associate professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo.