Just as the tobacco industry gained decades of huge profits by obfuscating the dangers of smoking, the oil industry secured decades of profits—in Exxon’s case, some of the largest profits of any corporation in history—by helping to create a fake controversy over climate science that deceived and victimized many policymakers, as well as much of the public.
– Banks and insurers can play a crucial part in stabilizing the climate, while at the same time safeguarding their clients’ assets. Leading representatives of finance and climate research will discuss the best strategies for a turnaround in investing this Thursday in Berlin. The event is hosted by the Swiss global bank UBS, the French multinational insurance firm AXA, CDP, the European innovation initiative Climate-KIC, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
Divestment – the diversion of capital from fossil fuel industries to green innovation and sustainable businesses – is a new approach to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, which could turn out to be a global “game changer”.
Already today, investments of billions of Euros are being redirected. Pioneered by students of wealthy US universities, divestment has reached financial big shots like Allianz by now: the financial services company announced its intention to divest from its assets in coal mining. The foundation of the legendary US oil dynasty Rockefeller plans to divest their funds from the fossil fuel industry as well.
“The risks of climate change affect everyone and everything. When the finance sector now divests billions from the fossil business, this does not only reflect a moral responsibility but also makes good business sense,” says PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, co-initiator of the conference. “While weather extremes increase already, many of the biggest climate impacts, like the consequences of sea-level rise, will become perceptible only after it would be too late to act. Therefore it is important for the finance sector to recognize the warnings of science and to ramp up sustainable investments as soon as possible. The Paris Agreement substantiates that the nations of the world aim at reaching zero emissions by 2050. This means we are now in year one of the Great Transformation. Whoever still invests in coal and oil will not only damage the environment, but eventually also lose a lot of money.”
“Recognize the possible economic and social impacts of climate change”
„As a global bank it is of major importance to recognize the possible economic and social impacts of climate change, in order to better prepare us and our clients,” says Axel Weber, Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS Group AG. “The financial sector is working hard to lay the foundations for filling gaps in financing climate action and to support nations in delivering on their corresponding commitments. We aim for a sensible long-term allocation of capital that is congruent with a low-carbon economy.”
Christian Thimann, Global Head of Strategy, Sustainability, and Public Affairs at AXA Group and Vice-Chair of the FSB Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure, says: “Finance has an important role in addressing climate change, because it steers long-term investment. Investors need to understand how companies address climate change in their strategies, which goes well beyond the current carbon footprint. Under the mandate of the G20 and the Financial Stability Board, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure seeks to develop consistent voluntary disclosures by companies and enhance investor understanding of climate-related business risks and opportunities. Such disclosures and better investor understanding will foster implementation of the COP21 agreement.”
„Divestment is one of the most potent signals of investor discontent”
Susan Dreyer, CDP Country Director Germany, Austria, Switzerland adds: „Divestment is one of the most potent signals of investor discontent and can be a valuable method to manage portfolio risk, given climate risks are becoming more urgent every day. Having built a platform for transparent and comparable climate strategies, into which 5600 companies worldwide are voluntary reporting today, CDP knows of the impact investor engagement can unfold. Shareholder resolutions or setting joint reduction targets are good examples. And yet, the clear signal from both civil society and investors that fossil based business models do not have a future in the decarbonized world of 2050, is helpful and needed.”
A driving spirit of the modern age is the desire to banish all speculation about things beyond the physical and observable realms of our existence. This spirit was well expressed by one of the leading Enlightenment philosophers, David Hume, who called for burning all books which did not deal with the observable and quantifiable phenomena: “If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”
This is a breathtakingly bold assertion. The literate reader may examine his or her bookshelf to see what little, if anything, would survive after applying Hume’s prescriptions. Nonetheless, the spirit of the secular age was very much in…
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I was shocked today to read that Victoria University is set to sell the Karori Campus for $20million. What is shocking is not only the sale, but the fact that the government sold the land to the University in 2014 for $10.
Numerous media outlets have covered this story, with Radio NZ stating “The Karori campus was acquired from the government for $10 in 2014. It covers 3.7ha and includes 20 buildings.” (http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/312117/victoria-university-to-sell-$10-karori-campus). Some are advocating that the council should buy the land (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1608/S00856/city-should-buy-victoria-universitys-karori-campus.htm). Concern has been expressed about the loss of an educational facility to the community (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/83697513/victoria-university-decides-former-teachers-college-in-karori-is-surplus-to-requirements). Not one of those reports has raised the history of the land, the issue that if the land is ‘surplus to requirements’ that it be returned to the Iwi or the broader issues related to Treaty processes which demand that in similar situations Iwi are forced to pay $millions for…
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Looks wonderful. Wish I was a potential PhD student !
Ph.D. projects now offered in the Dynamics of Eco-Evolutionary Patterns (D.E.E.P.) research group, based at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Tasmania. We study ecological and evolutionary dynamics, global change, and conservation biology. Our study systems include plants and animals, with a focus on the unique Australian environment.
The Ph.D. project topics include the response of biota to global change, dynamics of ecological communities, ecosystem modelling, conservation biology, threatened species management, and impacts of land-use change on biodiversity. The three major research themes are:
(i) using ‘patterns’ to understand the processes shaping ecosystem structure and dynamics;
(ii) technology and biology: never the twain shall meet? and
(iii) faunal habitat use and the impacts of disturbance (biodiversity and conservation).
We are also open to the possibility of exploring other projects and welcome students to express their own research ideas.
Candidates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds…
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The collapse of world markets is telling evidence of capitalism’s stake in maintaining a renewed Cold War, indispensable to its logic of global confrontation as a sustaining developmental force and dependence on a disproportionate, heavy-laden defense sector for America and drawing in its allies. The European Union, historically, was first and foremost the economic underpinning to solidify NATO, itself from first to last an obviously military alliance. Together, EU and NATO represented America’s stalking horse in its posture of world intervention and counterrevolution. Obama’s “pivot” to the Far East, his Pacific-first geostrategic framework, complements and extends the US geopolitical vision of global, unilateral dominance—military, ideological, economic.
With Britain’s vote, we see a magnificent—even if Britons voted on other grounds—objective determination to put a roadblock into the American Grand Design of universalizing its own brand of monopoly capitalism (and heading off a projected nuclear holocaust), in which systemic financialization erodes and supplants the US manufacturing base via outsourcing, foreign investment, and securing predictable sources of raw materials, including of course oil.
Consternation and worse reigns supreme in both the capitalist and defense communities, the architectural splendor of simultaneous containment, even isolation, of Russia and China, now on hold, yet hardly surrendered, as America, for its own self-identity, reified the idea of the Pervasive Enemy to accompany its doctrine of Permanent War. Blowback, after all, has some validity, as America’s warmongers pressed too far: Obama’s modernization of the nuclear arsenal, provocative incursion in the South China Sea, pressures on NATO to occupy the borderlands of Russia. Whether or not inadvertent, Britons have thwarted the US move toward the greater fascistization of a once-democratic polity, yet no longer recognizable as such.
How will America react to the British vote? Probably by intensifying, as is already happening, its Cold War rhetoric, and translating that into more aggressive policies of containment vis-a-vis a growing list of enemies presumed waiting in the wings. Counterterrorism, which has become a catch-all for creating a mindset for ideological conformity, will be a useful instrument for confusing radicalism and terrorism, in order to suppress the former as in Latin America and Africa. Secretly, I suspect, American policy makers hoped for the Britain-EU outcome, so as to beef up European defenses, continue the rearming (encouragement of a nuclear capability) of Abe’s Japan, and feel relief in pursuing the abominable policy of armed drone targeted assassination…. read more…
It is “democratically unacceptable” that Scotland will be taken out of the EU against its will, Nicola Sturgeon has said, and a second independence referendum is “highly likely”. The First Minister said that the Scottish Government would commence preparations for another independence vote after Scotland bucked the UK trend by voting 62 per cent to 38 per cent for Remain.
Superb piece from Chris Perley
We have spread across and changed our world. Change is the constant. But it is maintaining the integrity of our systems that is more important than whether there is any particular ‘natural state’.
I doubt there is any such thing as a natural state. I was taught climax ecology in the early 80s, but by the mid 80s Pickett & White and Daniel Botkin were strongly suggesting that the idea of a deterministic path to some natural ‘climax’ was very dubious indeed.
It has been thousands of years since the Earth had pristine landscapes. A new article identifies four major phases when humans shaped the world around them with broad effects on natural ecosystems: global human expansion during the Late Pleistocene; the Neolithic spread of agriculture; the era of humans colonising islands; and the emergence of early urbanised societies and trade. Credit: po808 / Fotolia
The whole idea is…
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I love his work. And that of so many others who are doing regenerative work. What hampers us most, I believe, is the lack of political and economic will to fund such work – unless, of course, there is a guaranteed profit margin. The question then becomes, how to transform this economic paradigm as a matter of extreme urgency ?