Conference at Osgoode Professional Development examines climate change liability risk – for directors


TORONTO, October 16, 2017 – There are close to 700 climate change cases in the courts in the US and Canada today – and companies are feeling the heat.

In recent months, Kinder Morgan Canada’s public offering of securities was challenged for using overly optimistic projections for the future demand for oil. Global “oil majors,” including two Canadian companies, have been sued in California for their contributions to sea-level rise. And oil and gas companies have been sued for overstating the value of their reserves, in view of the Paris agreement.

What are the obligations of officers and directors in Canada in light of climate change? What liability risks do companies face? What information must informed investors have? And what are leading Canadian companies doing to transition to a low-carbon economy?

Head shot of Osgoode Professor Cynthia Williams

Osgoode Professor Cynthia Williams

These are some of the questions that will be examined at the Climate Change: Directors at Risk conference taking place on Friday, Oct. 20, from 8:30am to 3:30pm EDT, (In Person or Webcast) at Osgoode Professional Development Centre, 1 Dundas St. W., 26th Floor, Toronto.   Speakers include partners at leading Toronto law firms Osler Hoskin & Harcourt; Gowlings; Torys; RBC Global Asset Management; the Ontario Securities Commission; and CPA Canada, Greenpeace, the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, and Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission.

The conference is organized by the Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative (CCLI) and supported by the Ivey Foundation. CCLI is a project with researchers at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, the Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Initiative, the Allard School of Law at UBC, and the Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic at Osgoode. CCLI studies corporate law obligations of boards of directors to develop transition strategies towards a low-carbon economy.

“Canadian companies are particularly vulnerable to liability risks from overstating assets such as oil and gas in the ground, which can create legal problems for the company and its officers and directors,” said Professor Cynthia Williams, Osler Chair in Business Law and Co-Director of the Jay and Barbara Hennick Centre for Business and Law at Osgoode, as well as founding CCLI team member. “Litigation is exploding as a strategy to persuade companies to take seriously the need to transition to a low-carbon economy. Well-advised boards need to take action now, or face the serious legal consequences of inaction.”

For more information and to register for the conference, please visit here.


Osgoode Hall Law School of York University has a proud history of 128 years of leadership and innovation in legal education and legal scholarship. A total of about 900 students are enrolled in Osgoode’s three-year Juris Doctor (JD) Program as well as joint and combined programs. The school's Graduate Program in Law is also the largest in the country and one of the most highly regarded in North America. In addition, Osgoode Professional Development, which operates out of Osgoode’s facility in downtown Toronto, offers both degree and non-degree programming for Canadian and international lawyers, non-law professionals, firms and organizations. Osgoode has an internationally renowned faculty of 60 full-time professors, and more than 100 adjunct professors. Our respected community of more than 18,000 alumni are leaders in the legal profession and in many other fields in Canada and across the globe.

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media Contacts:

Virginia Corner, Communications Manager, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, 416-736-5820,

Sandra McLean, York University Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 22097,