Edition for 24 February 2020

Top Stories

How ‘Stewardship’ Aims to Make Passive Funds Greener (Washington Post)

  • That is, what happens when pressure to make climate change a focus of investment decisions runs into the multi-trillion dollar flow of money into passively managed funds, many of which are locked into holding shares of big carbon emitters?
  • The companies that run the largest passive funds (and some active-management peers) call stewardship an organized effort to use their influence to change companies’ environmental ways.
  • Some activists call it a smokescreen for the billions these funds keep sending to fossil-fuel producers even as they talk up a low-carbon future.

Economic costs of rising seas will be steeper than we thought, unless we prepare (Science News)

  • Rising seas that swamp cities and coastal infrastructure could cost the world more than 4 percent of the global economy each year by 2100 — far more than previously estimated — unless urgent action is taken both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for such impacts from climate change, a new study finds.
  • That’s “not peanuts,” says Thomas Schinko, a climate economist and deputy director of the Risk and Resilience program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna.
  • If countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to prevent the global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, but do nothing else to prepare for rising seas, costs are projected to be more than 3 percent of global gross domestic product each year by 2100, the report says.

Big banks and super funds to face climate change risk checks (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Major financial institutions will have to show the industry regulator how prepared they are for climate-related financial risk, including estimating the potential impacts from the global transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority wrote to all Australian regulated institutions on Monday, outlining plans to develop a prudential practice guide focused on risks from a changing climate, as well as a climate change vulnerability assessment.
  • The assessment will involve deposit-taking entities, such as banks, credit unions, insurance and superannuation firms, estimating the potential physical impacts of a changing climate - including increased extreme weather events - on their balance sheets.

Finance Ministers Grapple Over Economic Threat of Climate Change (NY Times)

  • The United States, under pressure from European countries to address the economic threat of climate change, agreed on Sunday to include a reference to those risks in a joint statement at the conclusion of a meeting of the world’s top economic leaders.
  • The inclusion of the term “climate change” in a statement from the Group of 20 finance ministers appeared to be a notable, but subtle, acknowledgment by the United States that the threat from rising temperatures was a valid economic concern.

For Canada’s Trudeau, the $15.5 billion Teck mine decision is a lose-lose situation (Washington Post)

  • For as long as he's been prime minister, Justin Trudeau has insisted that supporting Canada's struggling oil and gas sector, tackling climate change and mending the country's relationship with its indigenous people go "hand in hand."
  • His Liberal government would put a price on carbon emissions, giving him the “social license” for energy projects such as pipelines, which would quiet opposition to the carbon tax.
  • Now, at the start of Trudeau’s second term, looms a decision that’s testing his commitments both to fighting climate change and to developing Canada’s potentially lucrative oil sands.

How Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both reject the reality of climate change (Washington Post)

  • He either believes or cynically pretends to believe that climate change is not a threat.
  • He would prosecute oil executives “for the destruction they have knowingly caused” (he “welcomes their hatred”) and phase out carbon-neutral nuclear power.
  • Unlike the U.S. president, he has no doubt that climate change is real and “a huge challenge for mankind.” “I believe the scientists,” he said, and he favors a global (and corporate) evolution away from fossil fuels.

Cities fighting climate woes hasten “green gentrification” (Ars Technica)

  • The people who lived there—who would’ve borne the brunt of whatever disasters a changing climate will bring—get pushed out in favor of new housing built to sell at or above market rates to people with enough money to buy not just safety but a beautiful new waterfront.
  • Fighting climate disasters is a good idea for the planet but can have unintended consequences for neighborhoods.
  • Climate change happens on the scale of decades or centuries; real estate development and politics happen on fiscal and electoral timescales.

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