Hurt by sea: how storm surges and sea-level rise make coastal life risky | The Conversation

The journal Climatic Change has published a special edition of review papers discussing major natural hazards in Australia. This article by The Conversation, which was written in November 2016, is one of a series looking at those threats.

Australia is a huge continent, but a coastal nation. About 80% of Australians live within 50km of the coast, and a sea-level rise of 1.1 metres (a high-end scenario for 2100) would put about A$63 billion (in 2008 dollars) worth of residential buildings at risk.

Anyone who lives along Sydney’s northern beaches, especially in Collaroy, saw at first hand the damage the ocean can wreak on coastal properties when the coastline was hit by a severe east coast low during a king tide in June.


Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures report

The report outlines a set of recommendations for voluntary, decision-useful, climate-related disclosures to be made as part of mainstream financial filings. The recommendations will help organisations identify and disclose information needed by investors, lenders, and insurance underwriters to appropriately assess and price climate-related risks and opportunities.

The recommendations are issued for public consultation which is open until February 12, 2017.

The Task Force developed four widely adoptable recommendations on climate-related financial disclosures that are applicable to organisations across sectors and jurisdictions. Importantly, the Task Force’s recommendations apply to financial-sector organisations, including banks, insurance companies, asset managers, and asset owners. Large asset owners and asset managers sit at the top of the investment chain and, therefore, have an important role to play in influencing the organisations in which they invest to provide better climate-related financial disclosures.

The Task Force structured its recommendations around four thematic areas that represent core elements of how organisations operate: governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets.

The four overarching recommendations are supported by recommended disclosures that build out the framework with information that will help investors and others understand how reporting organisations think about and assess climate-related risks and opportunities. In addition, there is guidance to support all organisations in developing climate-related financial disclosures consistent with the recommendations and recommended disclosures. The guidance assists preparers by providing context and suggestions for implementing the recommended disclosures. 

Click here to download the full report. The TCFD website has additional reports relating to the project: Public Consultation, Implementing the Recommendations and a Technical Supplement.

AEMO’s defence of “we didn’t know” underscores case for change | Renew Economy

The Australian Energy Market Operator insists it was completely unaware about the nature of the fault ride-through settings on wind farms in Australia, even though the issue had been addressed and resolved in Europe a decade ago.

In the third, and most detailed, report into South Australia’s state-wide blackout in September, AEMO says it did not know that wind farms built in Australia had limits on their “fault-ride through” settings, which govern whether a wind farm can continue operating with multiple network faults of the type that occurred when tornadoes tore down three major transmission lines.

Pension trustees could face legal challenge for ignoring climate risk – leading QC confirms | ClientEarth

In a hugely important development for the pensions industry, two leading independent UK barristers, including pensions expert Keith Bryant QC, have confirmed that pension fund trustees who fail to consider climate risk could be exposing themselves to legal challenge.

The opinion concludes that where climate risks carry material financial implications for fund performance, trustees must take those risks into account in investment decisions. Its authors state that this is “beyond reasonable argument” and that failing to do this “would not be a proper exercise of [trustees’] powers.”

You can read the opinion here.

For a summary of the opinion and what it means for pension fund trustees and pension fund members, please see ClientEarth’s briefing here.

Launch of Trillion-Dollar Transformation Initiative, Focusing on Pensions and Climate Risk | Mercer and CIEL

Trillion Dollar Transformation, a collaborative initiative by Mercer Investment Consulting (Mercer) and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), is designed to educate pension fund fiduciaries on the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change.

Two cutting edge reports have been released detailing the financial and legal challenges climate change presents for pension fund trustees.  The key findings and recommendations have been summarised in this 2 page document.

Climate Change Investment Risk Management for US Public Defined Benefit Plan Trustees is a financial analysis by Mercer, identifying the various approaches trustees can use when considering investment risks from climate change. Mercer’s findings demonstrate that the average US public pension is markedly exposed to the potential for billions in lost asset value under a Transformation scenario, which is aligned with a 2oC global temperature increase outcome, the baseline goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

In its companion legal analysis, Trillion Dollar Transformation: Fiduciary Duty, Divestment and Fossil Fuels in an Era of Climate Risk, CIEL reviews how climate change may affect the fiduciary obligations of pension fund trustees and concludes that a failure to acknowledge and respond to these financial risks may constitute breaches of trustees’ fiduciary duties.


Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel presented the Preliminary Report of the National Electricity Market (NEM) Security Review to COAG Leaders in Canberra last Friday.  The Preliminary Report identifies the forces of change confronting the NEM and key questions to guide consultations on the development of a blueprint for our nation’s electricity future.

“The blackout in South Australia reminds us that our national electricity grid is under pressure and in need of urgent attention,” said Dr Finkel, Chair of the Review.

“We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the electricity sector to maximise its resilience in the face of rapid market changes.

“The goal is to ensure we have a secure electricity supply, at an affordable price for all Australian consumers, while meeting our international obligations to lower emissions.”

You can download the report here.