The Rising Tide of Climate Litigation: The Strategy and Politics

Monday, October 4, 2021 13:00to14:30
Zoom: https://mcgill.zoom.us/j/84355228548

Professor of Business Law Peer Zumbansen welcomes Simon Archer for the second installment in the Seminars in Business & Society series of 2021-2022 for a talk on The Rising Tide of Climate Litigation: The Strategy and Politics.


The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report sounded a “code red” on the urgent need for concerted state and private actions to address climate change caused by greenhouse gas production. Litigation over the causes and effects of GHG production has expanded rapidly, including claims against the “carbon majors”, states and financiers of GHG production and consumption. This discussion will examine the law and politics of the Canadian litigation involving climate change with reference to landmark cases in Australia, the US and the EU.

About the speaker

Simon Archer is a partner at Goldblatt Partners LLP. He works in the areas of trade unions, retiree associations and boards of trustees across Canada, advising on negotiating pension and benefits, trust administration and fiduciary issues, public interest litigation, insolvencies, corporate accountability and governance. He is a co-director of the Comparative Research in Law and Political Economy Forum at Osgoode Hall Law School and a Fellow at Kings College London.

About the McGill Seminars in Business & Society series

The McGill Seminars in Business & Society Seminars address a broad audience and seek to facilitate a new conversation between law and management, sociology and environmental studies, history and political science. Above all, the seminars are concerned with building bridges between the academy and practice.

In its first, inaugural term 2021-2022, the McGill Business & Society Seminars shall provide a forum to reflect on the challenges to business and society against the background of the – still ongoing – pandemic. The crisis has put global connectivity and interdependence into sharp relief, while it exposed the still too rare examples of effective transnational cooperation. Given the intensity of public debates around what might come “after COVID”, the present moment presents an opportunity to explore possible avenues of learning from the crisis in order to move forward in a different manner. Where the pandemic has provided a lens on the institutional changes that economic globalization has brought over the past 30 years, it also prompts us to engage in new conversations about HOW the pandemic can serve as a transformative experience.

Just as the area of “business law” has never been limited to the narrow, doctrinal confines of corporate and commercial law, a conversation about business and society must engage the deeper connections between companies, labour markets, public policy and tax law, on the one hand, and connect to the vibrant public debate around the relationship between and, even more specifically, the role and place of “business” in “society.”

Today’s conversations about the role and responsibilities of business enterprises reflect a growing public interest in questions of sustainability, equality and diversity, climate change and overall a more future-oriented corporate governance reflective of the corporation’s “purpose”. As these debates translate into legal discourse, the emerging and pressing issues concern corporate board composition, board diversity and executive pay, stakeholder representation and stakeholder governance, supply chain governance, workers’ rights and ‘anti-slavery law’, board diversity and executive pay, “corporate stewardship”, “environmental, social and governance” (ESG), as well as the impact of new technologies, including artificial intelligence on business law.

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