Adaptation in industry and business: Climate change adaptation – a framework for best practice in financial risk assessment, governance and disclosure.

Synthesis and Integrative Research Program
Researcher/s: 
Jason West
Institution/s: 
Griffith University
Year Started: 
2012
State: 
Queensland

This project will deliver a consolidated framework for Australian industry to integrate risk management and governance principles in relation to climate change adaptation with existing governance principles. It will identify a matrix of financial disclosure principles to act as guidance for Australian industry to use for information disclosures relating to climate change risk and adaptation costs. These outcomes will be developed in conjunction with representatives from industry, regulators and corporate governance bodies.

This report delivers a best practice framework to integrate financial risk assessment, governance and disclosure with existing governance principles around climate change adaptation. Download the report here

Abstract

The Australian business community has long been aware of the risks and opportunities associated with greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change policies. Some businesses have taken initial steps to adapt to the expected effects of climate change; however, most enterprises are only vaguely aware of the breadth of adaptation that may be required. Associated with strategic adaptation are the principles of financial/operational risk management and governance, as well as financial impact disclosure to investors and regulators. We develop a consolidated framework in which boards and executive managers can develop a robust approach to climate change adaptation governance, climate change risk assessment and financial disclosure. The project outlines a matrix of disclosures required for investors to enable them to evaluate corporate exposure to climate change risk.

The project initially comprised a set of workshops with members of the Australian business community, industry representatives, regulatory authorities and academics with expertise in business risk and disclosure effects. Each workshop focused on a separate theme that built upon the work of previous workshops. A set of follow-up discussions was held with some of the key members who contributed to the project, including the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. This discussion permitted each body to comment on the final report, advise on the mechanics of the costing, reporting and disclosure approaches of climate change adaptation, and lend their expertise to the formulation of an appropriate framework.

The scope of the research is constrained to firm behaviour and the requirements for investor disclosure and governance of adaptation activities. The project therefore focuses on financial analyses – including real options – undertaken by firms with regard to investing in climate change adaptation activities and projects. While the economic costs and benefits are important to organisational adaptation activities, they represent a secondary level of analysis that may need to be carried out on either an independent or cumulative scale by governments or other bodies to measure the wider effects.

As the degree of sophistication in climate change adaptation activities, modelling and cost estimation increases, along with the anticipated growth in interest of both company boards and managers, it is expected that accounting standards, ASX listing rules and disclosures required under the Corporations Act would need to explicitly reflect these corporate actions. The asset allocation of banks, mutual funds, superannuation funds and other investments is also likely to adapt as companies quantify their exposure to climate change. The makeup of assets in investment portfolios may therefore markedly shift, and thus indirectly adjust to the climate change adaptation activities of companies in the broader market.

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