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  • Fran 9:51 am on February 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Climate change, , , SRI   

    What’s next for investors after Paris? 

    Our new associate Kajetan Czyz Analyst, Governance and Sustainable Investment at BMO, explains why Paris has galvanised investors and highlights the changes in low carbon finance expected in 2016.

    JaLON_2016 bw

    In the run-up to the Paris talks, investors participated in discussions with policymakers. Their key asks? To give the investment community a clear direction of travel including a long-term target, supported by country-level plans. Here are 5 reasons investors can feel good.

    The Paris Agreement meets all key investor expectations, and crucially during 2016 global regulators will focus on the elephant in the room—the financial sector’s role in addressing climate change.

    1. Long-term goal
    The Agreement sets an ambition to achieve “a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century” while “peaking emissions as soon as possible.” In other words the world should become carbon-neutral.

    2. National commitments
    Every participating country is obliged to produce a national emissions reduction plan (“Nationally Determined Contributions” or NDCs). All but six countries have already done so.

    3. Review mechanism
    NDCs will be reviewed in 2018 and then every five years to ensure they are in line with the Agreement’s aim to hold the global temperature rise to “well below 2°C” and “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” A key clause states that the NDCs cannot be weakened.

    4. Transparency
    The Agreement has introduced a monitoring and verification requirement for all countries, and a global stocktaking of reduction efforts in 2023. This increases the certainty that measures are being implemented, and serves as peer pressure through “naming-and-shaming” laggards.

    5. Finance
    Developed countries have now agreed to fully fund the Green Climate Fund up to $100 billion per year from a “variety of sources,” which includes private finance.

    The UN Climate Summit in Paris gives investors greater clarity than ever before about the political willingness to transition the global energy system to a post-fossil fuel future. This will have a profound impact on energy producers and users alike. It also has implications for fund management and strategic asset allocation decisions.

    So what exactly is next for investors? Some countries, most notably France, have set in place a requirement for investors to assess the impact of their investments and analyse their carbon risk exposure. More countries are expected to follow suit, and prudent investors have already began work in this area, e.g. AXA.

    Expect 2016 to see scaling up by financial regulators on climate change. The Paris Agreement commits governments to “making financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.” And as implementation gets underway, investors will be expected to take action to support this.

    Four developments investors are watching:

    1. Sweden is the first country to announce a review obliging its financial regulator to ensure the financial system is “financing sustainable development.”
    2. France’s new Energy Transition Law requires institutional investors to provide the carbon footprints of their investments, review their portfolio’s alignment with a low-carbon development pathway, and to disclose methods of integrating climate-related risks. Guidance on implementation has recently been finalised.
    3. In the UK, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and Chair of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) announced an industry-led Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to be chaired by Michael Bloomberg.
    4. The Chinese G20 presidency is set to make “Green Finance” a priority area for 2016, with the Paris deal on climate change—and the energy transition—a mainstream investor issue.

    The direction of travel couldn’t be clearer.

  • andrea 10:34 am on February 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , carbon, Climate change, , , politics, ,   

    Age of the Corporate Climate Activist 

    It’s not often you hear a giant in sustainability issue a call to arms. But at a recent Global Compact event on his first visit to Australia that’s exactly what Bob Massie did.

    The fight in question? Equipping ourselves with the right frameworks, mindsets and leadership skills to deal with the climate challenge.

    In the face of trials like global warming our institutions are failing us. On some fronts—like rooftop solar—we’re doing pretty well but not on the scale or timeframe we need. Urgency is missing. We’re simply not moving fast enough and our political institutions are paralysed by vested interests.

    Recalling the milestone 1970s book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler, Bob underscored how the speed of change today far outstrips the ability of human institutions to adapt and respond. The result is that on virtually every front we need to rethink how we do things—from energy generation and creation of economic value to democracy itself.

    The amazing Bob Massie. It's time for us all to be climate superheroes.

    The amazing Bob Massie. It’s time for us all to be climate superheroes.

    Bob Massie is a seasoned veteran in corporate responsibility. He was president of Ceres—the largest coalition of investors and environmental groups in the United States—co-founder and chair of the Global Reporting Initiative, and the brains behind the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which counts over 100 members with combined assets of over $10 trillion. He’s been in the game a long time and can see that the window of opportunity to be proactive on climate is closing fast.

    “I’ve been in this 25 years. Back then it was ‘there are going to be long-term extreme events.’ Now we’re experiencing them. Suddenly we’re facing real costs. We have to rethink, plan for the massive structural changes needed to deal with the climate challenge.”

    He’s in good company. Last year’s Risky Business report from US establishment behemoths Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry Paulson and Tom Steyer catalogued the significant economic risks of a carbon bubble and staying on the current emissions path. As well as action at local and corporate level, governments need to set consistent policy and regulatory frameworks to shift the global economy away from carbon-intensive industries and investments.

    “The global future of coal is grim,” Massie insisted. “Look at China, look at India—they’re unlikely to be long-term markets for coal. Even Goldman Sachs is saying ‘treat it like someone who’s reached their 65th birthday—tell it to go off and have a quiet retirement.’ But we have to ask how do we manage that shift?”

    Government’s job is to plan ahead: if jobs in threatened industries go, what are we going to do? What’s the plan? We can’t avoid change—and neglecting these issues is only going to make them worse. We have to ask ourselves if our system of government is really up to the task.”

    The biggest barrier, in Bob’s view, is mental—a failure of imagination—because the potential economic opportunities around climate change boggle the mind. You only have to look at distributed energy to see that we can apply our incredible reserves of human energy and ingenuity to rethink the world, rethink the basic structures of the past 50-100 years.

    So how do we engage that mindshift and galvanise the necessary political will? For Bob Massie it’s a numbers game. “If you want politicians to lead you have to form a parade and they will find their way to the front. We have to form parades. The future of climate change is in our hands. We live in the most important piece of human history ever. What we’re able to do will determine what our planet becomes. We have to act now to make sure those outcomes are good.”

    Time for business to bring out the banners and hit the streets.

    • africa Zanella 9:38 pm on February 21, 2015 Permalink

      This man is a titan of strength and moral values .I had the pleasure of listening to him speak at the GRI Amsterdam conference VIP dinner .after many speeches, some wine and the customary hard work , i was “zonning out ” or going into meditative state as I like to do to rest the mind when I heard his voice singing a gospel song …..wow ! that was the beginning of his speech and story as to why he cofounded GRI and he held me in alert and hanging to each of his words . One bright idea after another and a mix of emotion and rationality that you could not help to admire .He crosses over from imagination to implementation like nooone i have ever seen ..adding inspiration and leadership to its mix …Business and government are all part of the society so I believe that this broader focus rather than the monolithic separation of roles is required for the climate change issues to be worked out .Sorry I missed his visit to Australia

  • andrea 11:22 am on June 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , blue economy, Climate change, IPCC, science   

    Putting climate science back into policy 

    A few weeks ago I was at the launch of Blue Australasia, an initiative to develop Blue Economy solutions. Co-founders Prof Martin Blake and Ian Dunlop were there. Formerly an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, Ian Dunlop was chair of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is also a member of the Club of Rome. This week he offered a stirring opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on the recent budget, urging the Australian government to take climate change onboard and put climate science centre stage. What he wrote is both a searing critique of laissez-faire, business-as-usual policy and a powerful business case for blue economy market leadership.
    09 Danie Mellor  Red, White and Blue  2008 mixed media, dimensions variable, tallest 105cm. Courtesy the artist and Caruana and Reid Fine Art
    “Australia has an enviable reputation for scientific research, extending long before the heyday of the CSIRO in the 1950s under the visionary leadership of Sir Robert Menzies and Sir Ian Clunies-Ross. On the hottest and driest continent on Earth, our prosperity would be non-existent had it not been for the enlightened application of science. So it has been of mounting concern over recent years to see governments of all persuasions adopt increasingly anti-science agendas.
    “The federal government is taking anti-science to new heights. Its scorched earth approach discards virtually everything not in line with narrow, free-market ideology, centred on sustaining Australia’s 20th century dig-it-up and ship-it-out economic growth model.
    “Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s supposedly visionary address to the World Economic Forum in Davos last January, outlined this agenda. Free-markets create prosperity, but their full costs have only become apparent in recent years. Over the past two decades, those costs have negated the benefits – we are actually getting poorer not wealthier. The PM’s “vision” ignored such costs, along with the disastrous outcomes that the short-termism, inequity and corruption of free-markets delivers, witness the 2008 global financial crisis, and the Independent Commission Against Corruption closer to home. Markets are important but they must operate within sensible rules and continual vested-interest lobbying has got rid of those rules.
    “Official orthodoxy decrees that conventional economic growth take precedence over all else, without understanding that such growth is no longer possible. In 1945, we had a relatively empty world of 2 billion people; we now have 7 billion. Exponential increases in both population and consumption, have delivered a “full” world, such that humanity today needs the biophysical capacity of 1.5 planets to survive, which is clearly not sustainable.
    “As a result, we are in the midst of a global discontinuity, where conventional growth has ground to a halt, notwithstanding futile efforts to reboot the system by printing money at will. We will emerge either with fundamentally different concepts of growth, or the system as we know it will collapse.
    “Excessive consumption has created global limits never previously experienced. Cheap fossil-fuel energy, which delivered our supposed prosperity, has dried up. Its carbon emissions have triggered global warming which is happening far more rapidly and extensively than expected. The remaining fossil-fuel reserves cannot be used if catastrophic climate outcomes are to be avoided. Water and food security are already badly affected, as witnessed by growing social instability and conflict around the world.
    “Yet our political and corporate incumbency refuse to join the dots, oblivious that global warming is already having a major negative impact on this country, that our high-carbon exports are a significant contributor, in the process destroying our manufacturing and agricultural industries.
    “They cannot grasp that we have enormous opportunities to prosper in the 21st century, built around the rapid development of a low-carbon economy. We have the best low-carbon assets in the world, but to realise their potential, we need a new vision grounded, as never before, in science. On that score, we are in big trouble.
    “Global warming is the greatest concern; it has already changed the context in which every policy in this country will have to be rethought – from climate policy itself through energy, agriculture, social, health, infrastructure, migration and defence.
    “The government ignores the leading-edge climate science developed by our Institutions and informed scientific bodies worldwide. Particularly the work of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is probably the most extensive scientific investigation undertaken. All of which point to the need for far more rapid action than acknowledged officially.
    “The science on an issue this complex is never “settled” as knowledge will continue to improve, but informed opinion is clear; we face potentially catastrophic risks, risks that are with us now, not one or two decades hence. We disregard them at our peril – which is exactly what the government is doing.
    Science has disappeared from the government’s priorities just at the time we need it most.
    “Greg Hunt’s Direct Action white paper has no scientific and economic grounding at all, whether from our own Institutions, the IPCC, the Garnaut and Stern climate change reviews or numerous other global bodies such as the World Bank, IMF and the OECD. It is the climate policy you have when you don’t want a policy.
    “The work of the former Climate Commission, providing independent, objective explanation of the climate science, has been archived away from public view. Scientific illiterates have been appointed to key climate and business policy advisory positions. The budget has gutted science funding in general, further emasculated the wholly inadequate Direct Action policy and rendered the CSIRO impotent.
    “The response from the supposedly scientifically literate chairmen and chief executives of our major corporations, at the wanton destruction of their future innovation base, is a deafening silence.
    Grandees such as John Howard and Cardinal George Pell parade cynical climate denialism before international audiences, putting more peer pressure on the current incumbents to toe that line and providing rare insight into the widespread denialist groupthink within conservative ranks.
    “Literally and figuratively, we are witnessing a “burning of the science books”, the like of which has not been seen since medieval times. It did not work for the Catholic Church in the days of Copernicus and Galileo, nor in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. It will not work today.”

    [5] The Lucky Country: Australia in the Sixties, Chapter 9, Donald Horne, 1964: http://www.penguin.com.au/products/9780143180029/lucky-country

    This opinion piece was published on 2nd June 2014 on http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-is-gutting-science-just-when-we-need-it-most-20140601-zru3j.html#ixzz33TUgWynv
    Image: Danie Mellor, Red, White and Blue 2008 mixed media, from http://www.craftaustralia.org.au/library/docfiles/reviews/tayenebe_menagerie_on_tour/images/09%20Danie%20Mellor%20%20Red,%20White%20and%20Blue%20%202008%20mixed%20media,%20dimensions%20variable,%20tallest%20105cm.%20Courtesy%20the%20artist%20and%20Caruana%20and%20Reid%20Fine%20Art.jpg

  • Fran 11:30 pm on May 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Climate change, climate justice, Lima, ourvoices.net, Paris, UNFCCC   

    A moral compass for climate change 

    Speaking to an audience of over 1,000 people at St Paul’s Cathedral in London yesterday, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) challenged faith leaders to find their voice on one of the great humanitarian issues of our time. Engaging as ever, she asked us all to take a deep breath, and as we exhaled, reminded us that we’re the first humans on earth to fill our lungs with over 400ppm of carbon.

    flyer jpeg

    To many it may seem surprising that the faith and spiritual communities, whose writings teach us to care for nature and support the vulnerable, have not successfully communicated the moral case for climate change justice and action at the global level. True, leading figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu have called for a boycott and divestment campaign against the fossil-fuel industries, multi-faith groups in Australia and North America sent a letter to Pope Francis saying it is ‘immoral’ to profit from fossil fuels and the Synod of the Church of England voted to review its carbon investments. But these voices are dispersed and fragmented.


    Luckily, help is at hand! The ourvoices.net initiative, an interactive site launched last night at St Paul’s to gather and amplify the concern and prayers of millions of spiritual and religious people around the world, could play a vital role in building a huge wave of caring voices from the faith community. I’m delighted to be part of a dedicated team backed by Christiana Figueres and led by Tessa Tennant who have volunteered time, commitment and energy to imagine and deliver the project. We look forward to the support of millions of believers whose simple pledge on http://www.ourvoices.net could make a vital difference to the COP negotiations in Lima and Paris. Please join us!

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