February

Climate change-related litigation was once seen as a joke, but could soon become business reality | ABC

Emma Herd, chief executive of the Investor Group on Climate Change and member of the global Steering Committee for the Climate Action 100+, said the change in sentiment was because of greater recognition by CEOs that climate change is not just an ethical issue.

"This is about financial risk, as well a company's social licence to operate," she said.

Brian Preston: The activist judge shaking the climate change world | AFR

In what lawyers say is one of the most important parts of the decision, Preston rejected Fisher's "market substitution" argument. There was no proof other mines would go ahead, he asserted, and wealthy countries such as Australia have a responsibility under the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris agreement "to take the lead" on climate change.

Why Glencore's Ivan Glasenberg buckled on coal | Financial Review

Glasenberg said the coal production cap was part of the company's climate change policy, which could also see it dropping its support of the World Coal Association.

"Our commodity portfolio and its key role in enabling the energy and mobility transition for a low-carbon economy enables us to look ahead with confidence and to remain focused on creating sustainable long-term value for all our shareholders," he said.

Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown | IPPR

“In the extreme, environmental breakdown could trigger catastrophic breakdown of human systems, driving a rapid process of ‘runaway collapse’ in which economic, social and political shocks cascade through the globally linked system – in much the same way as occurred in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2007-08,” the paper warns.

What is the role of central banks in managing climate change? | London Institute of Banking and Finance

Dr Paul Fisher, well known to many at Climate Alliance has written a very interesting article for the London Institute of Banking and Finance. He asks the question whether central banks should play a role in managing the risks presented by climate change.

Researchers warn of sealevel rises of 1.2 m by 2300 | The Australian

As scientists refine their models, the outlook only worsens. We need to start planning for the scenarios forecasted.

Sea levels would rise between 70cm and 1.2m by 2300 even if the Paris Agreement greenhouse gas emissions targets were urgently met, researchers say. Every five-year delay in achieving zero net global carbon dioxide emissions this century would add 20cm .... Read More

 

 

Turnbull is on a 'clean coal' collision course with APRA | The AFR

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is on a collision course with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority over his government's crusade for Australia's $10 billion green bank to invest in "clean coal" power stations, experts say.

The independent banking regulator entered the climate policy debate 10 days ago with a speech by APRA member Geoff Summerhayes warning that banks and their directors could be legally liable if they fail to consider the increasing risk of carbon-intensive assets such as power stations becoming "stranded'.

APRA's dramatic intervention came days after Treasurer Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal to Parliament to champion "clean coal" power as a solution to the blackouts that have hit the electricity grid with growing shares of wind and solar energy and coal plant retirements.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and other ministers say they will change the $10 billion Commonwealth-owned Clean Energy Finance Corporation's guidelines to redefine "clean energy' to include "clean coal" power in order to stabilise the grid.

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APRA channels its inner Fisher/Carney | Sarah Barker, Minter Ellison

Sarah Barker at the Climate Alliance National Conference in October 2016 talking on the subject of fiduciary duties.

Sarah Barker at the Climate Alliance National Conference in October 2016 talking on the subject of fiduciary duties.

As was heavily covered in the weekend press, there has been a significant shift in APRA’s position on the relevance of climate change risk to the financial sector.  In a keynote speech to the Insurance Council of Australia entitled 'Australia's New Horizon: Climate Change Challenges & Prudential Risk', Mr Geoff Summerhayes (Executive Board Member of APRA) stated:

·      APRA-regulated entities can no longer treat climate change as ‘non-financial’ issue, or one that will only crystallise in the distant future.  Associated risks extend far beyond the physical (ecological) realm to economic transition risks (regulatory, technological and societal). Many of these risks are financial in nature, foreseeable and material – and are actionable now by Australian banks, insurers, asset owners and asset managers. 

·      The speech cites three key recent developments that have influenced APRA in articulating this view: (a) the Paris Agreement, and Australia’s ratification thereof, (b) the G20 Financial Stability Board Bloomberg TCFD climate risk disclosure recommendations, and (c) a recent legal opinion on directors’ duties with regard to climate change risks by senior commercial barrister Noel Hutley SC (briefed by Sarah Barker of Minter Ellison on instruction of the Centre for Policy Development and Future Business Council). 

·      In dealing with these risks, ‘scenario planning is the new normal’. Markets and investors increasingly expect corporations to apply a sophisticated and robust approach to modelling of the potential impacts of climate-related risks under different scenarios, and over different time horizons.  This includes the sub-2°C transition scenario around which the Paris Agreement (ratified by Australia in November 2016) is anchored.  The Recommendations of the G20 Financial Stability Board’s TCFD, released on 14 December 2016, provide clear guidance in this regard.

·      A failure to proactively govern the financial risks associated with climate change, now, can present significant litigation exposures for corporations and their directors.

·      This does not mean that APRA is ‘suddenly elevating climate-related issues to the top of our priority list. But it does mean joining the wider conversation that is already going on around this issue – and being explicit that climate change is likely to have material, financial implications that should be carefully considered.’  

The full transcript of Mr Summerhayes' speech is available here.