8 Questions for Your Board About Climate Change

Many board members of large community benefit organisations or medium-sized companies know we should be doing more to fight climate change, but how to get it on the board’s agenda?The first step might be asking your board some tough questions about climate-related risks and opportunities. 

1. Do we know how climate change will affect our assets (properties, machinery, investments)? 
The potential asset value-at-risk from climate change is estimated to be up to US$43trillion by the Economist Intelligence Unit – with sectors ‘across the board’ affected. 

A recent report by Carbon Disclosure Project found more than 200 of the world’s largest listed companies forecast climate change could cost them a combined total of almost $1 trillion, with much of the pain due in the next five years. This leads to another question. 

2. Are we missing opportunities to benefit from this transition? 
Are there new investment opportunities for assets we are holding? Are there new products, services or programs we could provide in this transition? Are there new policy directions we should be advocating for? 

3. Do we know how much we’ll need to invest to adapt and transition to a low carbon economy? 
The International Energy Agency estimates the transition to a lower-carbon economy will require around $1 trillion of global investments per year for the foreseeable future. 

4. Are we taking (and demonstrating) sufficient action to ensure access to capital and funding? 
Investors and funders are increasingly evaluating: 
     (a) Preparedness for climate change risks/opportunities and 
     (b) Level of action to reduce GHG emissions. 
Do we know what our funders or investors want regarding climate change? 

5. Are we doing enough to keep our clients’ business? 
Awareness of climate change is growing. Clients increasingly choose products and services from organisations that are taking serious action to fight climate change. 

6. Are we complying with current and pending climate-related regulation? 
Federal, provincial and municipal governments have existing and pending legislation and regulations that will impact your organisations. Do you know what they are or what is proposed? 

7. Have we considered climate change issues through a social justice lens? 
Climate change is--and will continue to--disproportionately impact vulnerable populations, indigenous communities and remote communities that have fewer resources to respond. They also have more difficulty getting the attention of governments and meaningfully participating in responses to climate change. 

8. Have we baked climate change considerations into our strategic planning and regular reviews? 
Have we set organisational goals related to climate change? 
Have we incentivised our staff to make those goals a priority? 
Are we regularly reviewing progress towards those goals? 
Do those reviews take account of new evidence, regulations, and technologies to adjust our goals? 

Directors can submit questions in writing and ask for time on the agenda to discuss them. It is unlikely the board will have enough information to answer the questions and will want to refer them to staff or initiate a process to consider them in a fulsome manner. (That’s when you come to Governance for Our Kids Climate for a facilitated workshop!) 

 These questions will vary from organisation to organisation but, for most, they will raise some serious concerns--and potential opportunities--that only the board can address in a holistic, strategic way.


  1. Good questions I have copied to raise some of these issues at our next strata council meeting and will check with City of Burnaby first , so I am partially prepared.
    Will also bring issue #5 up at South Burnaby Garden club meeting Very important to ask what our membership wants rather than have them simply drift away. Regards


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