Banks risk being caught off-guard by climate change

Local weather change is creating substantial, unrecognised threat within the monetary system as banks are failing to arrange for inexperienced regulation and carbon taxes that may have an effect on the businesses they lend to.

In line with a latest evaluation by the consultancy Oliver Wyman, oil and gasoline corporations — lots of that are already underneath stress from low gasoline costs — shall be two to a few occasions extra more likely to default on their debt if the international locations signed as much as the Paris local weather accord institute a $50 a tonne carbon tax. If the carbon taxes have been to go to $75 a tonne, because the IMF has advisable, the chance can be even larger.

But the monetary companies business was at risk of being caught flat-footed, Oliver Wyman stated.

Some banks, similar to Natixis and BNP Paribas, have taken steps to make their stability sheets extra inexperienced, however the business nonetheless had loads of work to do, stated Ted Moynihan, world head of monetary companies at Oliver Wyman.

“We now have but to discover a single financial institution that has developed a method to embed the outcomes of climate-risk state of affairs evaluation . . . throughout the mortgage guide,” Oliver Wyman stated in a report revealed on Friday.

In whole, banks supplied about $654bn in financing to fossil gasoline corporations in 2018, in accordance with the newest information out there from the Rainforest Motion Community.

The local weather discussions at this yr’s World Financial Discussion board in Davos have been an “inflection level” for the business, stated Mr Moynihan, however these talks haven’t but translated into motion.

Nonetheless, which will quickly change as lenders start to listen to cries from their shareholders to handle the issue. Barclays, for instance, has confronted stress to cease financing some fossil gasoline corporations.

Moreover, central banks are starting to include local weather change dangers into stress assessments. Mark Carney, the outgoing Financial institution of England governor, stated in December that the UK central financial institution would ask corporations to mannequin their exposures to the Paris local weather settlement’s targets amongst different metrics. SOURCE

Hamilton pushes back against controversial proposed Enbridge pipeline

Local officials and climate activists nationwide are raising concerns about the natural gas pipeline proposed through rural Flamborough and the protected Beverly swamp.

EnbridgepipeEMMA

The 10-kilometre route for Enbridge Gas Inc.’s proposed natural gas pipeline runs through the Beverly swamp and crosses Spencer Creek twice. The neighbourhood, centre right, is Beverly Hills Estates and Ponderosa Nature Resort off Concession 8 West, Flamborough. – Enbridge map

A controversial pipeline planned through rural Hamilton is spurring pushback from local government — and also climate activists across Canada worried about the impact of ‘fracked gas’ on climate change.

City council voted Friday to ask the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to specifically consider climate change impacts — and Hamilton’s own carbon-cutting goals — when ruling on an Enbridge Gas application to build a 10-kilometre natural gas pipeline through Flamborough.

It also requested the OEB hold a public hearing in Hamilton. Councillors will debate Feb. 19 whether to seek intervener status to participate in such a hearing — a move which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We’ve declared a climate emergency. It’s important to stress to the board that the climate impact from this project be considered,” said Coun. Brad Clark.

That council vote followed a Hamilton Conservation Authority decision a day earlier to oppose an Enbridge easement request to run the pipeline through conservation lands — at least until after a “peer-reviewed” ecological study is done.

Enbridge told councillors Friday the $206-million project would follow an existing pipeline corridor, create jobs and new tax revenue for Hamilton. Spokesperson Keith Boulton argued natural gas is cleaner-burning than other fossil fuels and provides “a great balance between energy reliability, affordability and the environment.”

Local environmental groups like Hamilton 350 have long opposed any gas or oil pipeline expansions as dangerous to local waterways.

They’re getting a visible boost now from national and provincial groups like Environmental Defence Canada and the Green party of Ontario. Both are running social media campaign ads targeting the Hamilton pipeline — while Enbridge is simultaneously advertising in support.

“Tell your MPP to say no to the new giant Hamilton pipeline and keep American fracked gas out of our natural areas!” says an Environmental Defence Facebook ad that specifically points to the protected Beverly swamp.

A Green party ad warns Hamilton “should not become a corridor for fracked gas,” referring to the contentious method of extracting natural gas via hydraulic fracturing, the high-pressure injection of liquid into the ground to shatter rock. SOURCE

LETTER: Danny Celovsky: Two Faces of Leadership in PEC

Image result for wind turbine

One of nine wind turbines at White Pines Wind Project in Prince Edward County. Mike Postovit / Global News

Dear Editor/Publisher,

I read the op-ed by Alan Whiteley entitled “The Two Faces of Government” in the January 22 edition of the Wellington Times and am compelled to respond.

It’s underlying premise is that wind energy is unnecessary as we in Ontario have more energy than we need. This completely fails to square with not only the facts but with common sense.

We are in a Climate Emergency. Our own Council declared it last May 16. Since then our carbon emissions continue to go up when acting on this Climate Emergency clearly and without compromise demands they go down.

To solve this we need a massive transition from our fossil-fuel driven economy and way of life to one that emits no carbon whatsoever. The scientists have presented this to be fact. To make this transition, all vehicles and all homes (just for starters) will have to move to clean energy alternatives. Every vehicle electric. Every building electric. I would think that such a large-scale transition to clean energy is going to require a lot more power-generation that we currently have. We do not have on oversupply or abundance of electric energy. Not when we actually act on the Climate Emergency. We will need all we can get.

The nine wind turbines constructed (and now dismantled) in the County were able to generate enough energy to power half the households in the County. And were doing so all with private investment – saving the Ontario taxpayer in the process. The dismantling cancelled clean energy we will need to solve the Climate Emergency and put the Ontario taxpayer on the hook for $141-million and counting to take them down.

But it gets worse when the argument for the dismantling is based on the NIMBY effect (Not In My Back Yard). Time for us to get real: The solutions to the Climate Emergency will require adjustment and inconveniences. Wars typically do. The underlying NIMBY argument is killing us all because it fails to recognize that we are in a war for our lives. The interests of the few do not outweigh the interests of the majority of us who want a future for all life on this planet.

A January 3 Abacus Data Poll showed that three-quarters of all Canadians recognize that Climate action is a priority; wants Government to work on it; and wants Government to not work against it.. Three-quarters. That is a majority of us. The dismantling of the nine turbines squarely is Government working against Climate Action.

This action to dismantle the White Pines wind energy project – and other clean energy projects – is clearly Government working against Climate Change action. It is not leadership. And we need leadership now more than ever.

The majority of us want and need our elected leaders to show the courage to act and to take the responsibility of informing us of what we need to do. How can you fight a war without courageous and responsible leadership? You can’t. Not if you expect to win it.

The debate should not be focused on taking these nine wind turbines down; but to double it – put eighteen wind turbines up. That would demonstrate the leadership we need and Canadians are clearly looking for.

Danny Celovsky

Picton Ontario

UK sued for approving Europe’s biggest gas power station

Andrea Leadsom overruled climate aims of government’s own planning authority

Drax is planning to build new combined cycle gas turbine generating units in Drax power station, near the town of Selby. Photograph: Drax Group Plc

The UK government is being sued for approving a large new gas-fired power plant, overruling the climate change objections of its own planning authority.

The plant, being developed by Drax in north Yorkshire, would become the biggest gas power station in Europe and could produce 75% of the UK’s power sector emissions when fully operational, according to the environmental lawyers ClientEarth, who have brought the judicial review.

The planning inspectorate recommended to ministers that the 3.6GW gas plant was to be refused permission because it “would undermine the government’s commitment, as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008, to cut greenhouse emissions” by having “significant adverse effects”. It was the first big project rejected because of the climate crisis.

However, Andrea Leadsom, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, rejected the advice and gave the go-ahead in October. Now ClientEarth has been given permission by the high court to sue ministers, with the case expected to be heard in about two months. The environmental lawyers have previously inflicted three defeats on ministers over their failure to tackle air pollution.

“With scientists ringing the alarm bells for decades, we shouldn’t need to take the government to court over its decision,” said Sam Hunter Jones, a lawyer at ClientEarth. “[Leadsom’s] decision is at odds with the government’s own climate change plans. As the planning inspectorate found, if this plant goes ahead the public risks a carbon budget blowout, or a huge stranded asset that would require propping up by the taxpayer, or a combination of the two.”

A Drax spokeswoman said the company’s ambition was to be removing, not adding carbon to the atmosphere, by 2030. It would do this by burning wood or plants and then capturing and storing the emissions. She said Drax’s carbon negative ambition could be achieved alongside “new, high efficiency gas power capacity as part of our portfolio” and provide electricity when the wind was not blowing or the sun shining.

The UK government’s actions to tackle the climate emergency are under particular scrutiny this year as it will host a vital UN summit in Glasgow in November. The world’s nations must dramatically increase their pledges to cut carbon emissions at the summit to avoid a disastrous 3-4C rise in global temperatures. MORE

 

A Call for Investors to Put Their Money Toward a Green Future

For wealthy Davos men and women, as well as people from less rarefied air, targeted investing is one way to force change on carbon-emitting companies.

Credit…Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Climate change has been a key theme this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with big ideas being bandied about, and big-picture proposals being announced.

A Davos initiative to plant one trillion trees gained the support of President Trump and the United States, a pledge that was met with a rebuke by the young climate activist Greta Thunberg. She said it simply wasn’t enough given the rate at which the earth is warming and forests are being decimated by wildfires.

The winds are shifting. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has set environmental sustainability as a core goal.

For giant money managers like BlackRock and the wealthy Davos men and women, as well as people from slightly less rarefied air, targeted investing is one direct route to begin to force change on carbon-emitting companies.

A new paper, Hedging Climate Change News, from a group of professors at New York University’s Stern School of Business and Yale’s School of Management concluded that creating the best portfolio to mitigate climate change required investors to put money into green strategies but also into existing, non-green companies.

Some of the investments will have to go into companies with high carbon footprints but a strategy to move toward a more sustainable business model.

“If you think about the question of how do we hedge against climate change risk, it’s natural to think the easiest thing to do is to go long green and short brown companies,” said Stefano Giglio, professor of finance at Yale.

“What we found when we tried to aggregate all the information was the optimal portfolio that hedges climate risk is not a long-short bet on green,” he said. “It’s much more nuanced. You want to go into each industry and look at the firms that are the most and least exposed to climate change.”

Stefano Giglio, left, and Bryan Kelly, two Yale professors who contributed to a paper on investing in ways that take climate change into account.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times 

To investors and advisers working with people’s savings, that approach is as nuanced as it is complex.

Some investors with a green focus have been too doctrinaire, which could make this approach challenging, said Rusty Vanneman, chief investment officer of  Orion Advisor Solutions, which manages about $17 billion.

“You could have two people in the same room who agree about the details of climate change investing, but then they start fighting over the nuance,” he said. “Or let’s say the average company has a green score of 50. People don’t want to invest in a company with a score of 55. And they get angry and say, ‘I’m not going to invest if I can’t get 95 or 100.’”

There are, of course, different approaches. Here are a few examples.

The Green Plays. Using funds and making direct investments have long been strategies for people focused purely on companies working to reduce the effects of climate change.

Mr. Vanneman steers such clients to exchange-traded funds, or E.T.F.s, or uses a direct indexin strategy, he said. E.T.F.s are generally inexpensive and allow clients to express a particular view, like investing in water or green energy.

He said one of his firm’s largest green holdings was the iShares Global Clean Energy Fund because it’s a fairly inexpensive way to make energy investments and is large for a green E.T.F., with about $430 million in assets.

One risk, Mr. Vanneman said, is that some of these tailored E.T.F.s are quite small, which could make them more volatile. The firm also likes the Etho Climate Leadership Fund, but it has only $75 million in assets. To counter risks in a small E.T.F., he instructs clients to set the price at which they will buy or sell a given fund.

For wealthier clients, Mr. Vanneman advises a strategy of direct indexing, in which they create a portfolio that mirrors an E.T.F. but with fewer stocks. Owning the individual stocks allows investors to benefit from tax losses that can pad their returns by as much as two percentage points.

Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a phone interview from Davos that his firm had created a special sustainable portfolio for people in its private client group. The strategy had $1 billion in 2018 and has grown to $9 billion today, with some clients putting the bulk of their wealth into it.

“We made a distinction between sustainable investment and impact investment,” Mr. Haefele said. “Impact is a more narrow category — you have a demonstrable social good that is reported out to investors. Sustainable is broader and encompasses more strategies.”

Still, within even UBS, the amount committed to this is small: The firm manages about $2.6 trillion.

The Improvers. A perfect world, of course, isn’t easy to achieve. Plenty of companies will never be totally green, but many are moving toward operating in a more sustainable way.

“The key question is, ‘How does this impact my money?’” said Steve Norcini, senior equity portfolio manager Wilmington Trust and the author of a recent paper on sustainable investing. “We view climate change as one of the many risks that need to be evaluated with a company. We look at carbon emissions per dollar of sale, water usage policy, how much energy usage comes from renewables. It’s all trying to get at how sustainable is this business.”

Doing this, though, means some of the investments may not appear to tick a climate-friendly box.

Mr. Norcini pointed to CMS Energy, which has pledged to shut down all of its coal plants and replace them with up to 50 percent renewable energy by 2040. But right now, it still has coal plants. Another is Total S.A., which he considers among the most progressive oil companies, even if it’s still in the business of pulling oil and gas out of the ground.

“We understand the reality of climate change, but you still need to invest in energy stocks, so why don’t you invest in the most forward-looking company?” he said. “We don’t believe it has to be an overnight change. We believe the economic consequences of cutting carbon too quickly will outweigh the short-term benefit to the environment.”

The Suppliers. Not surprisingly, some investors don’t want to get caught in the transition from old methods to new ones.

Chat Reynders, a co-founder and the chief executive of Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management, which manages about $2 billion, falls into this category. He said his firm was focused on the suppliers that are creating the new materials that existing companies will use to be more climate friendly. It’s shying away from the companies themselves.

“Companies using these products are coming off legacy systems, so you’re funding a transition,” Mr. Reynders said. “Sometimes that’s a bumpy process. I want to be looking at the technology that helps these companies do this work effectively.”

One company is DSM, a Dutch scientific conglomerate. Mr. Reynders said the company manufactured materials that were making cars lighter and stronger; it also makes enzymes that help cattle produce less methane, a greenhouse gas, when they digest their food. Another is Danaher, which makes a system the turns wastewater from sinks and tubs — called gray water — into drinkable water.

It’s a longer-term approach but not such a long-term approach that it isn’t creating returns now, Mr. Reynders said.

“Some of it is understanding what a smart investment is versus a short-term investment or a cosmetic investment,” like scrubbers on coal plants when coal is being phased out, he said. “There are multiple, compounding investments that can be made that are sound and meet a fiduciary requirement but don’t require you to jump into a short-term play.”

He puts solar panels in the latter category, since solar production has become cyclical almost like commodities.

Ultimately, as the climate-change paper found, multiple approaches may be the best way to generate the most positive impact on the planet through investments.

“What we’re trying to construct here,” Professor Giglio said, “is a portfolio that we can use to transfer different risks in the economy and also to channel resources through green investments.” SOURCE

 

 

Every day matters: Guardian Stops Accepting Fossil Fuel Ads

It said the decision was based on the efforts by the industry to prevent meaningful climate action by governments.

The British newspaper had said in October that it would stop referring to “climate change” and use terms like “climate emergency” or “climate crisis” instead.

Credit…Shutterstock

LONDON — The Guardian newspaper said it would stop accepting advertisements from oil and gas companies, making it the latest institution to limit financial ties to fossil fuel businesses.

The announcement highlights how the risk of climate change is increasingly recognized and discussed in the business world, just days after climate change took center stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Our decision is based on the decades-long efforts by many in that industry to prevent meaningful climate action by governments around the world,” said Anna Bateson, the acting chief executive, and Hamish Nicklin, the chief revenue officer, in a statement on Wednesday.

The British newspaper said in October that it would stop referring to “climate change” and use terms like “climate emergency” or “climate crisis” instead. “We need to tackle it now, and every day matters,” said Katharine Viner, the editor in chief, at the time.

The Guardian is owned by a charity, the Scott Trust, which has already shifted its investments away from fossil fuel investments. Fossil fuel-related investments now represent less than 1 percent of its fund, the newspaper said. The Guardian Media Group has also committed to getting its emissions down to net zero by 2030.

The Guardian and its Sunday paper, The Observer, rely on advertising for about 40 percent of their revenue, but the statement did not say how much came from fossil fuel extractors.

The executives conceded that the company could have taken bigger steps to put pressure on the companies that advertise with them.

“Of course we know some readers would like us to go further, banning ads for any product with a significant carbon footprint, such as cars or holidays,” wrote Ms. Bateson and Mr. Nicklin in their blog explaining the reasons behind the decision. “Stopping those ads would be a severe financial blow, and might force us to make significant cuts to Guardian and Observer journalism around the world.”

Greenpeace, which had petitioned for an end to oil companies advertising in the media, said that other media, arts and sports organizations should follow suit.

“For too long fossil fuel giants like BP and Shell, who are causing our climate emergency, have been able to get away with green wash advertising while investing 97 percent of their business in oil and gas,” said Mel Evans, a senior climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, in a statement. “Oil and gas firms now find themselves alongside tobacco companies as businesses that threaten the health and well-being of everyone on this planet.”

Advocacy group 350.org, which works to raise awareness about the danger of climate change, urged other media companies to follow The Guardian’s lead.

350.org Europe@350Europe

Speaking of which…

Join us and over 90,000 others in calling for a : https://act.350.org/sign/fossilfreefacebook/ 

We want a Fossil Free Facebook

We want fossil free newsfeeds.

act.350.org

350.org Europe@350Europe

And we think @Reuters should go next. They’ve already signed on to the @CoveringClimate Now initiative and this should be their next step.https://act.350.org/sign/reuters/ 

Reuters, ban fossil ads!

Following the Guardian’s historic move, we call on Reuters to stop advertising coal, oil and gas. Sign now >>

act.350.org

The chief executives of major European oil companies have reacted to the criticism by saying they are working to reshape their companies into producers of energy that generates lower amounts of greenhouse gases, but that this shift will require decades, the cooperation of governments and a range of industries, and acceptance by consumers.

“We cannot go faster than society, we cannot sell what customers don’t want,” Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, said during a call with reporters on Thursday.

Mr. van Beurden characterized the move to lower-carbon energy as “a system challenge of unimaginable proportions that can only be done if we have collaboration at levels not yet displayed.”

Mr. van Beurden said that Shell was slowly building a portfolio of lower-carbon energy sources like natural gas and electric power generation, but he conceded that the industry had work to do to make clear to the public that it was working seriously on solutions for climate change.

“The sector needs to do more to explain how it is serving society,” he said.

How the ‘New NAFTA’ Will Affect Canadians

Small gains for workers, but the environment gets a shoddy deal.

COVER.FreelandCUSMAEffect.jpg

Increases in drug costs were averted in the new CUSMA deal, but environmental protections remain weak. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, the Canadian Press

After months of talks, House Democrats and the Trump administration have agreed on revisions to the Canada–U.S.–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) that will likely clear the way for U.S. congressional approval.

Although Canada was sidelined in these discussions, the Democrats won some significant improvements to the “New NAFTA” that will benefit Canadians.

The biggest change is the removal of proposed longer data protection periods for biologic medicines, such as treatments for Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Data protection periods refer to the time competitors are denied access to the clinical trials data used to secure regulatory approval for a drug. Generic drug firms need this information to produce cheaper versions, known as biosimilars.

Currently, data protection periods for biologics are set at 12 years in the United States. Congressional Democrats, hoping to roll back that long period of monopoly protection for brand-name biologics makers, had no interest in locking minimum 10-year terms in place, as CUSMA would have done.

Under the original agreement, Canada had to increase its data protection term for biologics from eight to 10 years — at an estimated cost of at least $169 million per year, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. That change was dropped from the agreement, and Canadians will now avoid these projected cost increases.

Democrats have won other improvements, including curbing the practice of evergreening, where companies can obtain new patents based on small changes to existing drugs, blocking generic competitors.

One of the biggest sticking points in closing a deal was stricter enforcement of labour standards, with Mexico as the principal target. Democrats initially pushed for independent inspection of workplaces suspected of violating labour standards and the ability to withdraw preferential treatment of shipments from those factories under CUSMA if violations were found.

Mexican employer groups vehemently objected. Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador also rebuffed the demand as an infringement on Mexican sovereignty.

In practice, such inspections are a regular feature of international trade. Canadian and U.S. regulators, for example, routinely inspect foreign food facilities to ensure they comply with food safety standards. If they don’t pass muster, exports from those facilities can be suspended.

In the end, a compromise was reached with Mexico where complaints about workplaces can be heard by panels of independent labour experts and confirmed violations can lead to penalties.

In another positive change to the CUSMA labour chapter, the three countries agreed to loosen the condition that labour abuses be “sustained or recurring” to trigger sanctions, a significant hurdle that has allowed single violations of labour rights, however atrocious, to go unpunished.

These changes and tougher rules protecting Mexican workers’ rights to bargain collectively are an improvement over previous free trade agreements. But they won’t soon close the large manufacturing wage gap with Mexico or halt outsourcing. Indeed, just as a draft version of CUSMA was signed a year ago, General Motors announced plans to shutter five plants in the U.S. and Canada.

In the important auto sector, the U.S. pushed for tougher rules of origin if manufacturers are to qualify for tariff-free treatment under the agreement. Any steel used in auto manufacturing must be “melted and poured” within the NAFTA trade zone. This could be a boon to U.S. and Canadian steel producers.*

It is also possible some auto companies who use offshore steel will simply choose to pay the already low 2.5-per-cent tariff to export to the U.S. Nonetheless, Mexico objected and the steel rules will now be phased in over seven years.*

Democrats achieved scant progress on environmental protection. On a positive note, certain multilateral environmental agreements, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, will prevail in the event of any inconsistency with CUSMA’s rules.*

However, the Paris climate agreement, which Trump confirmed the U.S. would be leaving on Nov. 4, 2020, is not among them. U.S. environmental groups are certain to strongly oppose ratification of a trade deal that ignores the threat of climate change and intensifies ecologically unsustainable trade and energy flows.

The agreement, like the original NAFTA, privileges multinational capital and increased trade flows above all else. It weakens environmental policy by insisting it not interfere with trade or impose higher regulatory costs on business. It will sustain the accumulation of wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

Canadians can be thankful the new CUSMA will not result in higher prescription drug costs. We can feel relief that Mexican workers get a chance to form authentic trade unions and to fight to improve their wages and working conditions.

But we should take no solace in the fact politicians and governments have invested so much time and energy in salvaging a discredited trade model as they dither and delay on the climate emergency.

SOURCE

RELATED:

Updated NAFTA deal a profound failure for climate action

Young Ontarians launch lawsuit against province after Ford government scales back emissions targets

Ontario cancelled cap-and-trade program, challenging carbon tax imposed by Ottawa


Shaelyn Wabegijig, right, is among the seven young people who are applicants in the lawsuit. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A group of young Ontarians is suing the province over what they say is climate change inaction, arguing that the Ford government has violated their charter rights by softening emissions reduction targets.

The group claims that recent policy changes “will lead to widespread illness and death,” an alleged violation of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which promises protection for life, liberty and security of the person.

They are calling on the Ontario government to commit to more ambitious emission reductions with the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 C, a key target set out in the United Nations’ Paris Agreement on climate change.

“Doug Ford is not doing enough to protect our future and it’s just unacceptable,” said Sophia Mathur, a 12-year-old from Sudbury and one of seven applicants taking part.

The claims in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

“I just want to live a normal life in the future; I shouldn’t have to be doing this, but adults aren’t doing a good job,” she told CBC News.

“I’m afraid that so many species that I love will go extinct,” added Zoe Keary-Matzner, 13, from Toronto. “And that children in the future won’t be able to enjoy nature the same way I do.”

The applicants, ranging from age 12 to 24, are represented by Stockwoods LLP and Ecojustice, a group that specializes in public interest lawsuits in the name of environmental protection.

Their challenge is part of a growing trend in which young people across the globe are suing governments over perceived inaction on climate change.

Sophia Mathur, left, and Zoe Keary-Matzner are among seven young Ontarians who say the Ford government’s climate strategy is jeopardizing their future. (CBC)

Earlier this year, more than a dozen young Canadians launched a similar lawsuit against the federal government. Similar legal challenges have gone to courts in the U.S. and the Netherlands, with varying degrees of success.

This is the first lawsuit filed against a Canadian province over climate inaction.

“Any government that is failing to address the climate emergency in a meaningful way can expect to face litigation of this nature,” said Alan Andrews, climate director at Ecojustice.


Former Environment Minister Rod Phillips oversaw the cancellation of Ontario’s cap-and-trade program and the introduction of lower emissions targets. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

PCs roll back greenhouse gas targets

The group is focusing its lawsuit on the Ford government’s decision to scale back emission targets set by the Liberals in 2015.

The previous plan called for a 37-per-cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The reduction target climbed to 80 per cent by 2050.

Under the Progressive Conservatives, Ontario now plans to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. There is no longer a 2050 target.

The PCs have also repealed a cap-and-trade agreement that gave companies incentives to reduce carbon emissions. They are also in the process of challenging a carbon tax imposed by Ottawa to take its place.

Rod Phillips, who served as Ontario’s environment minister when the changes were made, said the previous targets and restrictions were ineffective and “killing jobs” in the province.

The Ford government says it plans to leverage Ontario’s private sector to develop green technology, and that its new “made in Ontario” climate strategy will keep the province on track to meet Paris Agreement warming targets

A precedent for success?

The young people behind the lawsuit say the new approach ignores the increasing urgency of climate change.

“People are very focused on other things; on making money, focusing on the economy, that they don’t think about their connection to mother earth,” said applicant Shaelyn Wabegijig, 22.

Wabegijig, 22, says she’s concerned about the preservation of clean air and water if she has children in the future. (CBC)

Wabegijig, who grew up at Rama First Nation near Orillia, said she’s concerned about having children if the effects of climate change continue to worsen.

While the result of the challenge is not yet decided, Ecojustice recently scored a mild victory against the province over the cancellation of the cap-and-trade program.

In a split decision, a three judge panel determined the Ford government broke the law by scrapping the program without public consultations, although the ruling does not compel the province to revive the program.

Mathur said Ford would be wise to take their challenge seriously.

“I hope he’s scared,” she said. SOURCE

 

Canada’s public pension fund denies it’s ‘entangled’ with oil and gas


File photo of diesel fuel storage tanks at an oilsands facility in 2014. Pembina Institute Photo

Canada’s biggest pension fund says it’s “unfathomable” that the fossil fuel sector could wield disproportionate influence over its investment decisions, after a new report claims members of its board of directors and staff are “entangled with the oil and gas industry.”

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), the Crown corporation that manages the country’s $400-billion public retirement fund, rejected new research Tuesday by the Corporate Mapping Project that argued the fund’s relationships with the industry presented a “dangerous” situation that partially explains why it has not yet ditched billions of dollars in fossil fuel-related investments.

The fund signalled in a recent sustainable-investment update how it is more focused than ever on understanding the “risks and opportunities” climate change presents, and that it is pressing large carbon polluters to improve their environmental performance.

But the Corporate Mapping report shows the CPPIB has more than $4 billion invested in top fossil fuel firms around the world, billions more in smaller firms and infrastructure and several staff and board members with “formal relationships” with energy firms.

“In Canada, the fossil fuel sector has been very successful at getting a seat at government decision-making tables, both provincially and federally. The same is true at the CPPIB, where the board of directors and staff are entangled with the oil and gas industry,” it states.

A Corporate Mapping Project map showing links between staff and board members of the CPPIB and energy firms and the financial institutions that are connected with them. Corporate Mapping Project screenshot

While it’s not uncommon for institutional investors to have staff sit on the boards of the companies they invest in, “these relationships deserve more public scrutiny” in the context of climate change, the researchers argue, because holding the planet to an acceptable level of global heating will require the fossil fuel industry to keep unburned reserves in the ground.

“The interests of oil and gas companies are finding their way into the decision-making that the Canada Pension Plan is undertaking,” said James Rowe, a co-investigator with the Corporate Mapping Project and an associate professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Environmental Studies, in an interview on Nov. 19.

“That’s dangerous in terms of the climate emergency, because the interests of those fossil fuel companies are in direct contradiction to the interests of Canadian beneficiaries and basically the rest of us — because their goal is to continue to burn as much carbon as they can… their pursuit of self-interest is a real threat to ours.”

Russian, Chinese energy firms

The report, called “Fossil Futures,” says the pension plan’s holdings include hundreds of millions of dollars in market value in the Russian energy firms Gazprom, Rosneft, Lukoil, Novatek and Tatneft, as well as Chinese energy giants CNOOC, PetroChina and Sinopec, Japan’s Inpex and Canadian Natural Resources. The figures are from CPPIB’s foreign publicly traded equity holdings as of March 31, 2019.

The reserves of these top players linked with CPPIB add up to 281 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or roughly four times the limit for keeping global heating to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), the Crown corporation that manages the country’s $400-billion public retirement fund, rejected new research Tuesday by the Corporate Mapping Project that argued the fund’s relationships with the industry presented a “dangerous” situation that partially explains why it has not yet ditched billions of dollars in fossil fuel-related investments.

The fund signalled in a recent sustainable-investment update how it is more focused than ever on understanding the “risks and opportunities” climate change presents, and that it is pressing large carbon polluters to improve their environmental performance.

But the Corporate Mapping report shows the CPPIB has more than $4 billion invested in top fossil fuel firms around the world, billions more in smaller firms and infrastructure and several staff and board members with “formal relationships” with energy firms.

“In Canada, the fossil fuel sector has been very successful at getting a seat at government decision-making tables, both provincially and federally. The same is true at the CPPIB, where the board of directors and staff are entangled with the oil and gas industry,” it states.

A Corporate Mapping Project map showing links between staff and board members of the CPPIB and energy firms and the financial institutions that are connected with them. Corporate Mapping Project screenshot 

While it’s not uncommon for institutional investors to have staff sit on the boards of the companies they invest in, “these relationships deserve more public scrutiny” in the context of climate change, the researchers argue, because holding the planet to an acceptable level of global heating will require the fossil fuel industry to keep unburned reserves in the ground.

“The interests of oil and gas companies are finding their way into the decision-making that the Canada Pension Plan is undertaking,” said James Rowe, a co-investigator with the Corporate Mapping Project and an associate professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Environmental Studies, in an interview on Nov. 19.

“That’s dangerous in terms of the climate emergency, because the interests of those fossil fuel companies are in direct contradiction to the interests of Canadian beneficiaries and basically the rest of us — because their goal is to continue to burn as much carbon as they can… their pursuit of self-interest is a real threat to ours.”

Russian, Chinese energy firms

The report, called “Fossil Futures,” says the pension plan’s holdings include hundreds of millions of dollars in market value in the Russian energy firms Gazprom, Rosneft, Lukoil, Novatek and Tatneft, as well as Chinese energy giants CNOOC, PetroChina and Sinopec, Japan’s Inpex and Canadian Natural Resources. The figures are from CPPIB’s foreign publicly traded equity holdings as of March 31, 2019.

The reserves of these top players linked with CPPIB add up to 281 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or roughly four times the limit for keeping global heating to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board says it is “unfathomable” that the fossil fuel industry could disproportionately influence such a massive and diversified portfolio as theirs, after Corporate Mapping Project claims otherwise.

The CPPIB also has $2.8 billion invested in top Canadian oil and gas companies, and has made other investments like $1.34 billion in U.S. gas pipelines and $1.4 billion in a gas project off Ireland’s coast, the report states. Overall, Rowe said, the pension-plan board has around $8 billion in equities associated with the fossil fuel industry.

The report also maps out the CPPIB’s ties to the oil and gas industry, specifically singling out several people. These include: board chairwoman Heather Munroe-Blum, who also serves on the board of the Royal Bank of Canada, which has a large oilsands stake; board member Ashleigh Everett, who is president of a company that owns retail gasoline chain Domo Gasoline; and board member Sylvia Chrominska, who is on the board of industrial-products provider Wajax Corp. which is involved in the oilsands. A number of senior staff are included as well.

Rowe said these connections aren’t the “singular and only cause” of the fund’s fossil fuel holdings but “help to explain” why it has been “slower than other major financial institutions in addressing climate risk.​​​​​” The European Investment Bank, for example, promised last Friday to end its own fossil fuel financing by 2022, while Sweden’s central bank said last Wednesday it had sold off oilsands bonds.

“We’re not convinced that most Canadians realize that the Canada Pension Plan is pretty heavily invested in fossil fuel companies, when 60 per cent of Canadians voted for parties with pretty strong climate plans,” he said. “Canadians care about climate change, and so we think they would be interested in this information.” MORE

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A Climate Emergency Needs an Emergency Response Plan, Not a Pipeline

In response to Canadian MP’s voting to declare a climate emergency, then approving the TransMountain pipeline Cameron Fenton, an organizer with 350.org in Canada issued this response:

“If we’re in a climate emergency, we need an emergency response plan, not a pipeline. You can’t have a real climate plan if you keep ignoring what scientists are telling us – that we need to stop building dangerous fossil fuel projects. This is exactly why we need Green New Deal for Canada to tackle climate change, respect Indigenous rights and make sure no communities or workers are left behind.”

Gabrielle Gelderman, an Edmonton-based organizer with the youth-led Green New Deal campaign Our Time added:

“Young people have spent our entire lives knowing that climate change is an emergency. Approving TransMountain is part of a climate plan that puts us on a dangerous path to exceed 4ºC of warming, that’s why we need a made-in-Canada Green New Deal and a federal leaders debate on climate change to let us know who is going to fight for it.”

SOURCE

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