Anita Foerster and Jacqueline Peel write in The Conversation (16.8.17) that a new lawsuit against the Commonwealth Bank puts climate change in a new legal light: a financial hazard. According to the authors, the case opens up fresh lines of attack on institutions that contribute to climate change.
'The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has been in the headlines lately for all the wrong reasons. Beyond money-laundering allegations and the announcement that CEO Ian Narev will retire early, the CBA is now also being sued in the Australian Federal Court for misleading shareholders over the risks climate change poses to their business interests.
'This case is the first in the world to pursue a bank over failing to report climate change risks. However, it’s building on a trend of similar actions against energy companies in the United States and United Kingdom.
'The CBA case was filed on August 8, 2017 by advocacy group Environmental Justice Australia on behalf of two longstanding Commonwealth Bank shareholders. The case argues that climate change creates material financial risks to the bank, its business and customers, and they failed in their duty to disclose those risks to investors.
'This represents an important shift. Conventionally, climate change has been treated by reporting companies merely as a matter of corporate social responsibility; now it’s affecting the financial bottom line.'