Assistant Professor

Jason Thistlethwaite Headshot

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Jason’s research focuses on innovative strategies designed to reduce the economic impacts of extreme weather and climate change. He explores the role of insurance and government risk-transfer in promoting climate change adaptation and reducing economic vulnerability. To inform this work, he has worked directly with business and government leaders in the insurance, banking, real estate, building, and investment industries. Jason is also a frequent speaker, media contributor on Canada’s growing vulnerability to extreme weather, and a self-described “weather geek”. 

Follow him @jasonthistle



Global Governance, University of Waterloo, 2011

Thesis: Planet Finance: The Governance of Climate Change Risks in Financial Markets

M.A. Political Science, Western University
B.A. Political Science, Western University

Key Areas of Graduate Supervision

Climate change governance, private governance, corporate social responsibility, insurance, risk management.

Research Interests

My research assesses the economic effects of climate change, natural disasters and extreme weather. I’m specifically interested in measuring the local costs of extreme weather, and the viability of property insurance and disaster assistance as a means of reducing vulnerability in the era of climate change. 

Current Projects

  1. Sustaining insurance in Canadian cities in the era of climate change

This project involves an assessment of the insured costs associated with extreme weather in Canadian cities. We are currently working with Guy Carpenter (a reinsurance broker) and the insurance industry to incorporate climate change assumptions for changes in the frequency and intensity of precipitation into a hydrologic-insurance model. This process will help to assess the costs of extreme weather, and how they will be divided between property owners, insurers, and governments. The objective is to help inform a Canadian model for flood risk-sharing that is sustainable in the era of climate change.

  1. Flood risk awareness and mitigation

Flooding represents Canada’s most costly form of natural disaster. This project involves the development of a survey to assess awareness of flood risk at the local level. The objective is to establish a benchmark of flood risk awareness in Canada, and assess the viability of different insurance and policy solutions that could be used to reduce the effects of flooding.

  1. Municipal risk-transfer and climate change

This project involves an examination of how municipal risk-transfer systems, specifically insurance and provincial and federal disaster assistance, can withstand the growing costs of extreme weather. Through interviews with key municipal stakeholders combined with primary document analysis, the role of risk transfer in managing the costs from floods in Calgary and Toronto will be examined. The objective of this approach is to identify the vulnerabilities of existing risk transfer systems, and strategies for ensuring these systems are sustainable as the burden of costs for municipalities grows.

  1. The social costs of natural disasters

The costs of natural disasters predominantly reflect damage associated with physical assets, and loss of economic growth. This measurement has a short-term bias and ignores many other costs, specifically long-term psychosocial effects, such as time off work, family disruption and PTSD. This project is designed to assess how these social costs are measured in Canada, whether they are incorporated into policy decisions on disaster management, and develop a framework that could improve the measurement of these costs.

Courses taught

ENBUS 408: Best Practices in Environmental Regulation (fall term)

SUSM 601: Introduction to Sustainability Management (fall term)

ENBUS 410: Stakeholder Engagement (winter term)

ENVS 220: Ecological Economics (winter term)


Director, Climate Change Adaptation Project

Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation

Member, Economic Development Committee, City of Waterloo


  • Thistlethwaite Jason (forthcoming). “Professional Accounting and Environmental Governance” in Lasse Folk Henriksen and Leonard Seabrooke, eds. Professional Networks in Transnational Governance. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming 2016).
  • Thistlethwaite, Jason and Paterson, Matthew. 2015. Private governance and accounting for sustainability networks. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 0 (0) 1-25.
  • Thistlethwaite, Jason. 2015. The Politics of Sustainability Accounting (CDSB). Environmental Politics 24 (6): 970-991.
  • Thistlethwaite, Jason. The Challenges of Counting Climate Change Risks in Financial Markets. CIGI Policy Brief No. 62. June 2015
  • Thistlethwaite, Jason. Canada’s Coming Property Insurance Crisis. CIGI Policy Brief No. 57. March 2015
  • Thistlethwaite, Jason (2014). “Private Governance and Sustainable Finance.” In Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment 4 (1): 1-15.
  • Helleiner, Eric, and Jason Thistlethwaite (2013). “Subprime Catalyst: Financial Regulatory Reform and the Strengthening of U.S. Carbon Market Governance.” In Regulation & Governance 7.
  • Clapp, Jennifer, and Jason Thistlethwaite (2013). “Private Voluntary Programs in Environmental Governance: Climate Change and the Financial Sector.” In Business and Climate Policy: The Potentials and Pitfalls of Private Voluntary Programs, edited by Ronit Schneider (43-47). New York: United Nations University Press 2012.
  • Thistlethwaite, Jason (2012). “The ClimateWise Principles: Self-Regulating Climate Change Risks in the Insurance Sector.” In Business & Society (51: 121-147).
  • Thistlethwaite, Jason (2011). “Counting the environment: The Environmental Implications of International Accounting Standards.” In Global Environmental Politics. (11(5): 75-97).

Recent Editorials

  1. Weather Hardening Flood Insurance. Canadian Underwriter. November 11th, 2013.
  2. Canada’s real housing crisis: extreme weather. Editorial. The Globe and Mail, July 29th, 2013.
  3. Cities can plan now for serious climate change impacts. Editorial. The Toronto Star, November 19, 2012.

Recent Keynote Presentations and Outreach

  1. Climate Change Adaptation and Corporate Canada. Conference Board of Canada. Montreal, June 11th 2014 (50 attendees).
  2. Decarbonization in Canada Panel. Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy. Waterloo, ON, February 20th 2014 (40 attendees).
  3. Climate Change and Actuarialism Panel. Ontario Conference of Casualty Actuaries (OCCA). Toronto, November 31st 2013 (100 attendees).
  4. Implementing Climate Change Standards and Best Practices. 4th Planning and Development Forum. Toronto, November 26th 2013 (60 attendees).
  5. The Resilient City Panel. CityAge Conference. October 10th 2013 (150 attendees).
  6. Climate Change Adaptation: A Business Perspective. Canadian Electricity Association (CEA). Toronto, October 2nd 2013 (50 attendees).
  7. Climate Change Adaptation and Insurance. Ceres Resilient Cities. Toronto, June 19th 2013 (100 attendees).
  8. Climate Change Adaptation Project: Adaptation Demonstration. Presentation to Intact Financial Corporation Foundation. Toronto, April 30th 2013 (20 attendees).
  9. Building Resilience into Residential Homes. Presentation to Ontario Home Builders Association Technical Committee. Toronto, April 20th 2013
  10. Financial Risks of Climate Change. Presentation to Federal Environmental Commissioner and Canadian Banks. Toronto, March 25th 2013 (15 attendees).
  11. The Business Case for Climate Change Adaptation. Invited Panellist to Livable Cities Forum,  Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). Hamilton, November 29th 2012 (30 attendees).
  12. Insurance as Climate Change Adaptation. Keynote Presentation to the Intact Actuarial Symposium. Ottawa, November 28th 2012 (200 attendees).
  13. Climate Change Adaptation and Financial Risk for Canadian Municipalities. Presentation to Mayor and City Council of Vancouver. Vancouver, September 2012 (25 attendees).
  14. Climate Change Risks and Insurance. Keynote Address to the 2012 HUB International Conference. Chilliwack, BC., September 2012 (400 attendees).
University of Waterloo

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