The Signals Brief

Financial accounting standards to deliver on the TCFD recommendations

March 12, 2018

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board is releasing today “Uncharted waters: How can companies use financial accounting standards to deliver on the TCFD’s recommendations?”.

It comes out as the European Commission calls for the review of current International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to assess their potential impact on sustainable investment, as outlined in the recent Action Plan on Sustainable Finance.

Get the full story here.


CCL launches Carbon Fee & Dividend calculator

March 10, 2018

From Citizens’ Climate Lobby:

CCL is laser-focused on encouraging Congress to pass a Carbon Fee and Dividend policy, which would price carbon emissions and return the revenue to Americans. We know from our Household Impact Study that a majority of Americans would see a net benefit from a policy like ours, but where do you yourself fall? What about the average constituent in your district?

To help you answer those questions, CCL developed the Carbon Fee and Dividend Calculator. It’s an easy-to-use online tool that estimates the financial outcome for any given household under the first year carbon fee of $15/ton. “The Household Impact Study has been such a critical asset to CCL in that it provides hard data,” said Bryan Hermsen, a volunteer in CCL’s Lincoln, Neb. chapter who was instrumental in developing the Calculator web page. “Now we have a way to take the findings from that study and present them in a more intuitive and personalized way.”


Blockchain used to record & verify Sierra Leone election

March 8, 2018

For the first time, blockchain (also known as distributed ledger technology) has been used to record votes and verify the results of a democratic election. The election verification was not done using a public blockchain (which is used to track Bitcoin trading, and which anyone can verify). Instead, it used a permissioned blockchain, which only established verifiers can record and verify. But once verified, anyone — electoral institutions, political candidates, political scientists, and the general public — can view the results.

That transparency confers legitimacy, and allows for effective election monitoring. The breakthrough application of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) to secure a participatory public process is also a demonstration of the value of DLT for tracking, verifying, and incentivizing climate-smart supply chain management, investment in social good targets under Sustainable Development Goals, and other much needed clean finance innovations.


Top universities form sustainable finance research alliance

March 5, 2018

This morning from Business Green:

Some of the world’s top universities have signed up to a new Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment designed to help support and accelerate the transition towards greener finance models.

The Alliance, which was officially launched today, brings together 18 universities, including the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Cambridge, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University of Oxford, and Yale University.


Kenya Green Building Society & Climate Bonds sign MoU

March 5, 2018

From the Climate Bonds Initiative:

The Kenya Green Building Society (KGBS) and Climate Bonds have just signed a new MoU in Nairobi aiming to stimulate take up of Certified low carbon buildings. As demand for green financial products and climate risk disclosure grows, KGBS will work with Climate Bonds to help government and private sector actors take advantage by incorporating green debt into their investment processes and mitigating climate risks connected to their assets.

The core mission of KGBS — the local chapter and emerging status member of the World Green Building Council (WGBC) — is to advocate for, educate toward, and Certify green buildings in Kenya through collaborations with public, private and non-governmental organisations.


Welcome to the Age of Climate Migration

March 4, 2018

Rolling Stone is covering the escalating cost of extreme weather events strengthened by climate destabilization and the rising rate of climate-induced migration:

In 2017, a string of climate disasters – six big hurricanes in the Atlantic, wildfires in the West, horrific mudslides, high-temperature records breaking all over the country – caused $306 billion in damage, killing more than 300 people. After Hurricane Maria, 300,000 Puerto Ricans fled to Florida, and disaster experts estimate that climate and weather events displaced more than 1 million Americans from their homes last year. These statistics don’t begin to capture the emotional and financial toll on survivors who have to dig through ashes and flooded debris to rebuild their lives. Mental-health workers often see spikes in depression, PTSD and suicides in the months that follow a natural disaster. After Harvey, one study found that 30 percent of residents in flooded areas had fallen behind on their rent or mortgage. One in four respondents said they were having problems paying for food.

The rising human toll of impacts from a destabilized climate system is disrupting the drivers of everyday health and wellbeing that allow vibrant economic life in rooted communities supported by trusted institutions.


Hong Kong to issue HK$100 billion (US$12.8 billion) in new green bonds

March 2, 2018

Hong Kong’s 2018-2019 budget (the fiscal year starts in April) raises the ceiling for green bond issue to HK$100 billion (US$12.8 billion). The new commitment is potentially the biggest single sovereign green bond issue in history.

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The densely populated urban area of Hong Kong means a greater percentage than usual of its historic HK$100 billion green bond issue will go to decarbonization of the existing built environment.

Paragraph 83 of the newly proposed Hong Kong budget reads:

To demonstrate the Government’s commitment to promoting green finance, I propose to launch a green bond issuance programme with a borrowing ceiling of $100 billion. The sums borrowed will be credited to the Capital Works Reserve Fund to provide funding for green public works projects of the Government. The measure will encourage more issuers to arrange financing for their green projects through our capital markets. The Government will submit a resolution to the Legislative Council (LegCo) as soon as possible so that the inaugural government green bond can be issued in 2018-19.


Lego to sell pieces made from plant-based materials

March 2, 2018

The Guardian is reporting:

  • The first Lego pieces made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugar cane will go on sale this year, the company has announced.
  • The 85-year-old Danish toymaker said production has begun on a range of Lego botanical elements or pieces such as leaves, bushes and trees, made entirely from plant-based plastic. They will start appearing in Lego box sets with bricks and mini-figures later this year.
  • The move is part of Lego’s commitment to use more sustainable materials in its core products — including its eponymous bricks — and packaging by 2030.
  • Its aim is to find sustainable sources to replace its current fossil fuel-based raw materials, as plastic can also be made from sustainable or bio-based raw materials.

From the Geoversiv Ocean Neutrality team: Plant-based plastics are a critical part of the global decarbonization challenge, and a promising new market for climate-smart finance.


France to require all plastic cups, cutlery and plates be biologically sourced & compostable

March 1, 2018

The Independent is reporting:

France has passed a new law to ensure all plastic cups, cutlery and plates can be composted and are made of biologically-sourced materials. The law, which comes into effect in 2020, is part of the Energy Transition for Green Growth – an ambitious plan that aims to allow France to make a more effective contribution to tackling climate change.


Spring is arriving 20 days early & that’s a problem

February 27, 2018

Spring is arriving nearly three weeks early, due to the warming of global average temperatures. That means new stresses on crop resilience, water resources, food prices, farming, and the wider economy.

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Early spring means plants bloom early. As they wake up from winter, they become more vulnerable to sporadic frost. For those that survive, the longer growing season means less water to go around.

The Washington Post is reporting:

  • “…spring is running 20 days or more ahead of schedule in parts of the Ohio River Valley and the Mid-Atlantic. That will soon be the case in the Midwest and the Northeast.”
  • “The longer growing season is inherently related to food shortages.”
  • “Once plants have reached a certain phase of development, which happens earlier when winter is warm and spring is early, they are extremely fragile and susceptible to freezing temperatures.”
  • “…they need water over a longer period, and we know that — in this new climate — water is often hard to come by.”

Chief Looking Horse calls for global effort to protect water rights

February 22, 2018

Writing today in the Guardian’s Climate Consensus column, Chief Arvol Looking Horse—19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred Bundle and spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota People—marks the one year anniversary of the clearing of the protest camp at Standing Rock. His message:

it is more than oil pipelines threatening the well-being and future of our water. Near the native territory of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, concentrated animal feeding operations or “CAFOs” are draining and degrading the land and water. As a result, the air is toxic, swamps have dried up, and aquifers, to which the people are supposed to have water rights, are being drained. Residents have mortgaged their homes to fight these threats in court and lost. In other places — in mining spills across South America and Africa and at Fukushima — man has gone too far.

Water is a source of life, not a resource.

The protection of water must be a universal standard in law, so “Standing Rock is everywhere.” This issue is part of a global challenge to counter dangerously unsustainable treatment of natural systems that sustain life.


Seychelles creates two huge marine protected areas with new finance scheme

February 22, 2018

The Guardian is reporting:

The tropical island nation of Seychelles is to create two huge new marine parks in return for a large amount of its national debt being written off, in the first scheme of its kind in the world.

The novel financial engineering, effectively swapping debt for dolphins and other marine life, aims to throw a lifeline to corals, tuna and turtles being caught in a storm of overfishing and climate change. If it works, it will also secure the economic future of the nation, which depends entirely on tourism and fishing. With other ocean states lining up to follow, the approach could transform large swaths of the planet’s troubled seas.

The innovative financial model breaks new ground in the development of climate-smart finance, addressing all of the following simultaneously:

  • the transition to a climate-smart economy;
  • the building of blue economy opportunities;
  • the removal of incentives and debt that generate harm to natural systems.

Arctic sea ice at record low, due to ongoing global warming

February 21, 2018

After a shocking 8-day retreat, Arctic sea ice is at an all-time low for this time of year. Scientists warn we are witnessing severe planetary change happening almost in real time, due to climate system feedbacks from global warming.

Bering Sea ice coverage reached its lowest extent in the satellite era. Covering 30% less than the 1981-2010 median, this loss of ice coverage in winter months is a key indicator of the destabilizing impact of climate change in the high latitudes and Arctic region. Data: NSIDC Sea Ice Index. Graphic: Rick Thoman.

USA Today is reporting:

“Greenhouse gases emitted through human activities and the resulting increase in global mean temperatures are the most likely underlying cause of the sea ice decline,” the National Snow and Ice Data Center said.

Arctic sailor David Thoreson was stunned by the lack of ice up there: “I have sailed boats through it but never this time of year,” he said. “It’s amazing to watch this unfold. It is a profound climate change to our earth’s environment.”


Renewables + Energy Efficiency can achieve 90% of needed emissions reductions

February 21, 2018

A report issued by IRENA and the IEA finds renewable energy sources and energy efficiency improvements can achieve 90% of the needed carbon emissions reductions to stay within the 2ºC maximum global average temperature rise set in the Paris Agreement.

The report also includes details about the role of the G20 in funding, building for, catalyzing, and tracking the financial integrity of investments in the development and deployment of these technologies. The clear message: there is an untapped opportunity markets are not yet fully embracing, so there is a major opportunity for expanded high-value investment in renewables and energy efficiency upgrades.


ING & EIB commit €300 million to green shipping innovation

February 20, 2018

The Climate Action Programme is reporting:

The Dutch bank ING and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have announced a serious boost towards greening the shipping industry. Each institution has decided to contribute €150 million to support projects with a “green innovation element” in Europe’s maritime sector.


Laser-ranging satellites to track Earth’s ice cover

February 2, 2018

From the BBC: Two new space-based Earth observation systems will monitor ice cover with greatly advanced precision.

  • The Grace Follow-On mission, which is comprised of two satellites spaced 220 kilometers apart, orbiting in tandem, will use laser ranging to assess ice cover with 10 to 20 times greater precision than its predecessor. Resolution was previously to the width of a human hair and will now reach down to the diameter of larger viruses.
  • IceSat-2 is a micro-pulse laser, that “will fire six green beams of light at the Arctic floes and land ice-sheets to measure their shape.”

CCEN launches Talanoa Dialogue Engagement Toolkit

February 1, 2018

The Talanoa Dialogue Engagement Toolkit from the Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network (engage4climate.org) supports efforts by any combination of stakeholders and decision-makers, at any level, to host Talanoa Dialogue working sessions and to contribute structured, substantive inputs to the official online platform.

In the Talanoa spirit, the guiding principles for this civic engagement strategy are:

  • all people are climate stakeholders,
  • access to best-practice opportunity is a right, and
  • climate education must be a two-way process between citizens and government.

Go to engage4climate.org/talanoa for the full Toolkit and for sample meeting agendas, contact information, and further support materials.


Talanoa Dialogue platform active, ready to receive stakeholder inputs

January 26, 2018

From the UN Climate Change secretariat:

The UN Climate Change secretariat today launched a new portal to support the Talanoa Dialogue, an important international conversation in which countries will check progress and seek to increase global ambition to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Through the portal, all countries and other stakeholders, including business, investors, cities, regions and civil society, are invited to make submissions into the Talanoa Dialogue around three central questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?


Half of Puerto Rico has no power 3 months after Hurricane Maria

December 29, 2017

The New York Times is reporting:

For the first time in the 100 days since Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico, the government finally knows how many people still don’t have power: about half.

The figure released Friday by the island’s governor and power utility company indicates that more than 1.5 million people on the island are still in the dark. Experts say some parts of the island are not expected to get power back until next spring.

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