Cashing Out From the Climate Casino | New York Times

After years of effort from activists, there are signs that the world’s financial community is finally rousing itself in the fight against global warming. A foretaste came last month when Norway’s sovereign wealth fund — the world’s biggest — said that it is considering divestment from holdings in fossil fuel companies.  Read more

Climate change and human rights on ACSI’s radar | Governance Institute

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The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) recently released Governance Guidelines providing insights for the first time on how large investors expect climate change and human rights issues to be managed.

ACSI’s Governance Guidelines are updated every two years and outline its members’ expectations of the governance practices of the companies they invest in.

This year, a new chapter on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues has been added, which covers climate change, labour and human rights, corporate culture and tax disclosure.

When it comes to climate change, ACSI expects to understand whether a company can:

  • successfully identify and manage the climate change risks and opportunities it faces
  • demonstrate future viability and resilience by testing business strategies against a range of plausible but divergent climate futures, including a 2°C scenario
  • achieve cost savings through efficiencies and identify low carbon opportunities.

Where companies identify climate change risks as material, ACSI says disclosures should extend to discussing the strategy, as well as metrics and targets, used to manage the risk.

Download the press release or read the full article.

AGL announces plans for Liddell Power Station

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AGL has outlined plans for Liddell Power Station beyond its announced retirement in 2022.

 

The NSW Generation Plan proposes a mix of high-efficiency gas peakers, renewables, battery storage and demand response, coupled with an efficiency upgrade at Bayswater Power Station and conversion of generators at Liddell into synchronous condensers. The feasibility of a pumped hydro project in the Hunter region is being explored with the NSW Government. Details of the plan, which was developed to align with the National Energy Guarantee, are attached.

Land clearing and Climate Change | The Saturday Paper

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There are lies, damned lies and Turnbull government statistics about Australia’s contribution to global climate change.  Take, for example, the figures it provides on greenhouse gas emissions resulting from land clearing. If you believe them, the cutting and burning of native vegetation by farmers and other landholders resulted in 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being added to the air in 2015-16.

In the same year that the federal government claimed 1.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions for the whole country, Queensland – the state that has both the nation’s worst record for land clearing and the best system for recording it – claimed by itself to have contributed some 26 times that amount.

In 2015-16, recently released data from the Queensland government’s Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) shows, 395,000 hectares of land was cleared, producing 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

If you believe the federal government, nationwide carbon pollution from land clearing was down 13 per cent that year, compared with 2014-15. Yet the SLATS numbers show the amount of land cleared in Queensland was up 30 per cent, year on year.

The federal figures show CO2 emissions from land clearing are down about 90 per cent since 2012-13. Yet the SLATS data shows the area of land cleared annually in Queensland has gone up fourfold over the same period. In total, some 1.5 million hectares – an area rather larger than Northern Ireland – was cleared over the five years to 2015-16. And that was just in Queensland.

More

Transportation is the Biggest Source of U.S. Emissions | Climate Central

The busiest travel day of the year brings a renewed focus on transportation, and for the first time since the 1970s, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from transportation have eclipsed emissions from electricity generation as the top source of greenhouse gases.

The change comes as U.S. electricity generation relies less on coal and more on renewables and natural gas (a less carbon-intensive fossil fuel). Transportation emissions have also declined from a peak in 2008 due to steadily improving fuel economies, although there has been a small uptick recently as a result of a drop in gas prices. The projected growth in electric vehicles suggests decreases in CO2 transportation emissions are on the horizon. Even when accounting for how electricity is generated, an electric vehicle emits less carbon dioxide than a comparable gasoline car in a majority of U.S. states. More

A world in transformation: World Energy Outlook 2017 | IEA

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The resurgence in oil and gas production from the United States, deep declines in the cost of renewables and growing electrification are changing the face of the global energy system and upending traditional ways of meeting energy demand, according to the World Energy Outlook 2017. A cleaner and more diversified energy mix in China is another major driver of this transformation.

Over the next 25 years, the world’s growing energy needs are met first by renewables and natural gas, as fast-declining costs turn solar power into the cheapest source of new electricity generation. Global energy demand is 30% higher by 2040 – but still half as much as it would have been without efficiency improvements. The boom years for coal are over — in the absence of large-scale carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) — and rising oil demand slows down but is not reversed before 2040 even as electric-car sales rise steeply.

WEO-2017, the International Energy Agency’s flagship publication, finds that over the next two decades the global energy system is being reshaped by four major forces: the United States is set to become the undisputed global oil and gas leader; renewables are being deployed rapidly thanks to falling costs; the share of electricity in the energy mix is growing; and China’s new economic strategy takes it on a cleaner growth mode, with implications for global energy markets.  More

ASX top 20 companies for climate change reporting in 2017 | Renew Economy

In this note RE briefly looked at the top 20 companies by market capitalisation listed on the ASX to see what they actually said in their latest annual report. Mostly this is 2017 but in some cases it's still 2016. Each company was rated out of 5 on disclosure.  

Climate and energy – appeasement does not work | Renew Economy

The current chaos around climate and energy policy brings to mind George Santayana’s caution that: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. That is exactly what we are witnessing, albeit with far more profound implications even than the advent of the Second World War.  More

Banks Realise climate change is a banking issue | ANZ and Paul Fisher

Banks around the world are slowly beginning to realise the financial risks associated with climate change and sustainable lending, according to Paul Fisher, a former senior executive at the Bank of England who had direct involvement in the Financial Stability Board’s Taskforce on Climate-related Finance Disclosures (TCFD).

Speaking to (ANZ) bluenotes on video and podcast, Dr Fisher – Senior Associate of the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership and representative at the European Commission’s High-level Experts Group on Sustainable Finance – said the next step for banks was determining the extent of their own risk. Read more

Climate-related risks will jeopardise stability of banks, insurers: APRA | ABC

Banks and insurers are jeopardising their futures if they fail to prepare for climate-related risks, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has warned.

The stark advice from the industry watchdog was delivered during a speech last night to the Centre for Policy Development in Sydney.

APRA said it had a duty to warn the institutions that it regulates, like banks, superannuation funds and insurers, if it identified a risk that could threaten their stability.

Actuaries reminded of legal duty to recognise climate-related risks | The Actuary

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It is increasingly likely that actuaries and investment consultants could face legal action should they fail to recognise the financial implications of climate risks.  That is the warning from environmental lawyers at ClientEarth, which argue that pension scheme advisors are delaying effective action and proper risk management in relation to the impact of climate change on investments.  Read more

Australian shareholders should be told of climate risk to profits, says thinktank | The Guardian

Australian companies need to start developing sophisticated scenario-based analyses of climate risks, and incorporating them into their business outlooks so shareholders know how climate change will affect profitability, a thinktank has said.

However, the Centre for Policy Development (CPD) said companies needed to do so in a standardised way, so investors and regulators were able to easily understand economy-wide risks to whole industries. More

TCFD and BoE Conference on Climate Scenarios, Financial Risk and Strategic Planning

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) held a two-day conference in collaboration with the Bank of England (BoE) discussing scenario analysis and how it can help companies assess climate risks in their strategic planning and risk management processes.

Day 1 provided a high-level overview of the TCFD recommendations with regard to the use of scenario analysis; what scenario analysis is and why it is useful for assessing climate-related risks; how climate-related scenario analysis works in practice today – who is using it; experiences; and available tools. Day 1 is was hosted by the FSB TCFD and was open to press.

Day 2 brought together business practitioners, leading researchers from academia, and finance professionals to discuss in more detail how climate-related scenarios can be used for strategic and financial risk analysis and how scenarios could be improved. The goal was to highlight successful approaches, and identify further work and collaboration needed in this area. Day 2 was hosted by the Bank of England and was held under Chatham House rules.

Stakeholder presentations, videos and photo gallery plus introductions can be found here.

A beginner's guide to China's steel and aluminium winter cuts | Andy Home

China’s winter heating season has just begun, heralding a titanic supply chain experiment as whole industrial sectors reduce capacity or close completely to comply with the leadership’s war on pollution.

The curtailments will take place across the four provinces adjacent to the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, lasting until the middle of March.

Coal is public enemy No.1 in China, making the steel and aluminium sectors -- both massive users of coal-fired power -- key targets for the winter cuts.

Neither sector has experienced supply-side adjustments of this speed and magnitude before and markets have struggled to price in expectations. Read more

Adani mine 'a financial house of cards' as coal meets its Kodak moment | ABC

The woman who led the world to a global climate change agreement has a message for Australia: "You really do have to see that we are at the Kodak moment for coal."

Christiana Figueres, until last year the executive director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, doesn't mean happy snaps for the family album.

Rather, the decimation of the once dominant photographic company Kodak by digital change — in the same way that coal-fired power is being eclipsed by renewable energy.

She hopes to see coal, like those sentimental moments in time captured in photographs, confined to history — with the world remembering the contribution the fossil fuel has made to human development, while recognising the need to retire it as a fuel source because of its contribution to global warming.

And, she says, it's happening.

Read more

A Time Machine for Climate Risk: bringing the future forward with 2˚C scenario analysis | Carbon Tracker

It has been two years since the Bank of England’s Governor, Mark Carney, cautioned London’s insurance industry and the world’s capital markets concerning the “catastrophic impacts of climate change [that] will be felt beyond the traditional horizons of most actors”.[1]

Since then, Carney’s message has been echoed by a string of financial regulators. Under his chairmanship, the Financial Stability Board established a Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (hereafter Task Force), which scrutinised the ways in which the adverse impacts from climate change might ripple across sectors to become “systemic.”

The Task Force concluded that a key forward-looking tool is scenario analysis and recommended that companies analyse the potential business impacts from a reference scenario that results in a global average warming of 2°C or lower.

Companies’ scenario analyses are now entering the market and a two-day conference on the subject hosted last week by the Bank of England and the Task Force indicates the significance of issue for the financial community. Here, we explore how the use of 2°C scenario analysis by fossil fuel companies can be made useful for investors and regulators.

Read more or download the report here.