Powerful Investors Push Big Companies to Plan for Climate Change

May 3, 2018

By David S. Rauf

Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron and Kinder Morgan are facing renewed pressure from climate-focused activist investors. This year some of the most powerful shareholders, which include giant mutual funds, are supporting the push for businesses to respond to climate change. And the prodding has had more effect than ever before.

The coming weeks are dubbed “proxy season” by corporate governance experts. Most publicly traded companies hold annual meetings in which shareholders, via nonbinding resolutions, signal their approval or dislike of proposed company policies. This year initiatives on climate change are among the most popular ballot items: Of the more than 420 shareholder resolutions initially proposed, about 20 percent focused on climate, tied for the largest of any proposal category, according to a report by the group Proxy Impact. Some reolutions ask companies to adopt greenhouse gas emission targets whereas others ask for reports on ways businesses could be affected by the Paris climate agreement’s global temperature goals.

Already, several companies have bowed to investor demands before votes are held. Why? Several major asset managers—like BlackRock and Vanguard Group—are now putting their heft behind climate resolutions, says Aaron Ziulkowski, a manager at Boston-based Walden Asset Management who works on shareholder engagement initiatives. It is a signal, he says, that Wall Street’s skepticism of climate science has dwindled: “It’s now widely recognized that climate change is a legitimate risk.” Still, some observers caution corporate reports do not equal policy changes.

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4 comments on “Powerful Investors Push Big Companies to Plan for Climate Change

  • Meanwhile, new features of climate change are regularly being discovered!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43990403

    Methane emissions from lakes in the northern hemisphere could almost double over the next 50 years because of a novel “feedback loop” say scientists.

    Climate change is boosting the proportion of cattail plants growing in and around freshwater lakes they say.

    But when debris from these reed beds falls in the water it triggers a major increase in the amount of methane produced.

    The gas is at least 25 times more warming than CO₂ in the atmosphere.

    Freshwater lakes play an important but relatively unrecognised role in the global carbon cycle, contributing around 16% of the Earth’s natural emissions of methane – compared to just 1% from all the world’s oceans.

    The gas is produced by microbes in the sediment at the bottom of lakes who consume organic matter that falls into the water from plants and trees that live close to the shore.

    The amount of methane generated according to this study, varies considerably depending on what enters the lake.

    The research team carried out tests in the laboratory that compared the impact of coniferous and deciduous trees with debris from cattails (often known in the UK as bulrushes).

    Incubated in the lab for 150 days the scientists found that cattails produced over 400 times the level of methane compared to conifers.
    The researchers believe that chemicals in both coniferous and deciduous trees restrict the ability of the microbes to produce the gas.

    “The cattails don’t have the same chemicals and so they are no longer inhibiting the microbes from producing methane, senior author Dr Andrew Tanentzap, from the University of Cambridge, told BBC News,

    “By now comparing what’s happening in the reed beds to what’s might happening beneath a forest – wow, it’s a massive difference!”



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  • I see that while his circus attracts public attention on other issues, President Dummkopf has quietly axed the NASA program for monitoring greenhouse gasses! – Presumably trying to create the impression that if we stop observing the pollution it will cease to exist!
    While it may disappear from his Fox-News delusion bubble, the rest of the world is still watching!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44067797

    Trump White House axes Nasa research into greenhouse gas cuts

    President Donald Trump’s administration has quietly axed US space agency Nasa’s monitoring system into greenhouse gases, a US journal has revealed.

    The Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10m (£7m)-a-year project which remotely tracks the world’s flow of carbon dioxide, is to lose funding.

    Science magazine reports that its loss jeopardises the ability to measure national emission cuts – as agreed to by nations in the Paris climate deal.

    The US plans to withdraw from the deal.

    However, until a pullout is formalised in 2020, the US continues to be part of the international climate accord.

    US officials are currently in Germany as part of talks to outline a detailed rule book for the 2015 Paris agreement. They are reportedly insisting on strong rules for reporting and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions.

    Mr Trump has repeatedly threatened Nasa’s earth science budget and other climate missions. In March, a spending deal signed in Congress omitted mention of CMS, effectively killing future US research into verifying greenhouse gas emission cuts.

    “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” energy and environment professor Kelly Sims Gallagher told the journal.

    Accurately measuring emissions of carbon dioxide has been one of the major challenges for UN negotiators since concerns over climate change first manifested in the 1990s.

    Right now most countries produce annual estimates based on working out how much fuel is used in transport, energy and industry.
    These are often wildly inaccurate, making cheating easy.

    Attempts have been made to develop space and aircraft-based systems and Nasa’s CMS is perhaps the most advanced.

    The development of CMS has helped the US and other developed countries put pressure on emerging economies like China to agree to strong systems to monitor, record and verify their emissions – something that China and India have strongly resisted.

    The cancellation of the CMS system will be seen here in Bonn as a weakening of the chances of developing a robust and transparent emissions monitoring system – something that many see as critical in building trust for the future of the Paris climate agreement.

    With repeated talks of a space force and sending astronauts back to the moon, Mr Trump appears to favour space missions over earth science.

    Leadership in the field of carbon monitoring will likely pass to Europe, which has one carbon-monitoring satellite of its own and more to come.

    And the scientific shift to Europe may have already begun.

    In December of last year, French President Emmanuel Macron lured 13 US climate scientists to France by way of a “Make Our Planet Great Again” project, awarding $70m in research grants.

    Fortunately the European Space Agency has the Copernicus Network and the new Sentinel series satellites, which operate independently of Trump bumblings!

    https://m.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/Sentinel-5P/Sentinel-5P_brings_air_pollution_into_focus

    This new mission promises to image air pollutants in more detail than ever before. And, while these first results demonstrate the sophistication of the satellite’s instrument, they certainly bring the issue of air pollution sharply into focus.

    One of these first images shows nitrogen dioxide over Europe. Caused largely by traffic and the combustion of fossil fuel in industrial processes, the high concentrations of this air pollutant can be seen over parts of the Netherlands, the Ruhr area in western Germany, the Po Valley in Italy and over parts of Spain.

    Some of the first data have been used to create a global map of carbon monoxide. The animation shows high levels of this air pollutant over parts of Asia, Africa and South America.

    Sentinel-5P also reveals high levels of pollution from power plants in India.

    Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said, “Sentinel-5P is the sixth satellite for the EC Copernicus environmental monitoring programme but the first dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere.

    “Data such as we see here will soon underpin the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, and will be used to issue forecasts, and will ultimately be valuable for helping to put appropriate mitigation policies in place.”

    Sentinel-5P carries the most advanced sensor of its type to date: Tropomi. This state-of-the-art instrument can map pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and aerosols, all of which affect the air we breathe and our climate.

    As well as offering unprecedented detail, the mission has a swath width of 2600 km, which allows the whole planet to be mapped every 24 hours.



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  • @#3 – “If you cannot measure emissions reductions,
    you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,”
    energy and environment professor Kelly Sims Gallagher told the journal.

    Accurately measuring emissions of carbon dioxide has been one of the major challenges for UN negotiators since concerns over climate change first manifested in the 1990s.

    Right now most countries produce annual estimates based on working out how much fuel is used in transport, energy and industry.
    These are often wildly inaccurate, making cheating easy.

    Ah! But that is the point!
    In order to maximise corporate profits in dubious polluting industries, it is necessary for Trump to negotiate, and to open up many loop-hole opportunities renege on, those “great deals”, – while hiding evidence, lying, cheating, and promoting those “alternative facts”!



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