Climate risks: Disclose now – or pay later

2019 may go down as the year that the pressure to comply hit a critical mass

For some people, creating a more perfect world will involve giving up meat or switching to an electric car. For big organizations, sustainability starts with a more daunting challenge: signing on to a maze of new paperwork and regulations. But 2019 may go down as the year that the pressure to comply hit critical mass.

Exhibit A: The London-based Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has just announced that, as of next year, it will require its 2,250 signatories to formally report how they have considered specific climate-change risks in their investment portfolios. These signatories represent global institutional investors with US$83 trillion in assets.

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China’s Green Belt fueling coal rise beyond its borders

China's war on pollution hasn't stopped it from funnelling $36 billion to coal plants in 27 countries

The latest report from the International Energy Agency warns that a rise in coal use is fueling a global increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The IEA called out Asia as the source of the majority of coal-fired generation. But while Beijing has garnered attention for attempting to crackdown on urban pollution from coal, China is aggressively exporting coal technology abroad.

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Church of England prods coal goliath to pursue more saintly endeavours

But is Glencore's coal cap all that righteous?

As [miners] tunnel through the rocks,

They discover precious stones…

But where can wisdom be found?

—Job 28. (Good News Translation)

The grimy world of coal production brightened briefly in February, when Swiss mining giant Glencore announced it would cap its global production of thermal and coking coal at its current capacity of 150 million tonnes per year. Glencore promised to refocus on metals such as cobalt, nickel, vanadium and zinc, key battery components for a lower-carbon world.

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POTUS impotent in battle to bring back coal

Older coal-fired plants just can’t compete as renewables are proving cheaper and more flexible

Last month, the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority voted to close two aging coal-fired power plants. No tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump could save them.

Despite the White House’s efforts to prop up the coal industry, the U.S. was on track to shut down more coal plants in 2018 than in any other year. “The thing that has changed fundamentally the whole picture is that renewables have gotten so cheap,” says Jim Barry, global head of BlackRock's infrastructure investment group. BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager with US$6.29 trillion in assets under management.

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Ethical investing need not penalize struggling economies

Ethical investors may be unintentionally screening out investments in poorer countries where they can do the most good

As awareness dawns of the increasing risks of climate change, business and government have developed new tools and mechanisms to promote pro-social and environmentally friendly investment. But one U.K. analyst is pointing out that such high standards could backfire by restricting capital to many developing nations that need it most.

Charles Robertson is the London-based global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, an investment bank specializing in emerging markets. As the lead author of The Fastest Billion: The Story Behind Africa’s Economic Revolution (2012), Robertson has a genuine interest in helping developing countries succeed – and thinks they deserve a break from well-meaning financial engineering.

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