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UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment to hold Climate Forums in 3 U.S. Cities

Climate Change

The United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has announced their schedule for a Climate Forum taking place in late June in three U.S. cities. These will be full-day events for investors, including insurance companies, which will focus on key climate topics and practical guidance towards managing the associated risks and opportunities. There is no fee to attend.

The PRI reportedly now has close to 2,000 investor signatories, representing $70 trillion in assets under management, who have identified climate change as their highest priority ESG topic. The Climate Forum events in the U.S. are part of a global series which will include interactive sessions, designed to educate around 50-75 attendees per event on new content, tools and insights on climate change risks and opportunities from an investor perspective. More info on the event series in terms of locations, hosts and timings can be found on the PRI website. The three dates for the U.S. are: 25 June in San Francisco, 27 June in New York, and 28 June in Boston.

With topics throughout the day ranging from the FSB Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure recommendations and a new climate scenario analysis tool, to investor initiatives on climate change (Climate Action 100+) and a new project titled "Investing in a Just Transition", the agenda is intended to provide a comprehensive cover of the core climate-related issues facing investors.


SEC commissioner says agency could do more on climate-related disclosures

The SEC could be doing more to ensure that companies are disclosing the information investors need, including on climate-related risks, to make wise decisions about their financial holdings, but is unlikely to do so anytime soon, said SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson at a May 31 conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

Jackson has raised concern over ongoing debates within companies and at the SEC over what information the corporations should be required to include in financial filings to the SEC and what they can withhold from the public or merely published on their websites. This includes disclosures related to environmental, social and governance issues.

Two of the most common shareholder proposals in this year's annual meeting proxy season have been pushing companies to disclose their risks related to the potential global transition to a low-carbon economy and their political spending and lobbying activities, according to Jackson.

Jackson was asked during the conference what the SEC is doing to address the financial risks of 
climate change and whether he thinks it is doing enough.

"I would say the answer must be no," Jackson said. "Because if we were doing enough in terms of mandating disclosure, providing the information you need, you would focus your resources and 
initiatives somewhere else."

The hard part of the question is exactly what the SEC should do to address disclosure in this area, but, Jackson added, doing so is not likely to be high on the agenda of the five-member commission, which is led by an independent and includes two Republicans.

One option could be that the SEC provides corporate boards with guidance on the issue of climate risks as it recently did on cybersecurity issues, Jackson said.

United States Government Accountability Office
SEC Has Taken Steps to Clarify Disclosure Requirements
GAO-18-188: Published: Feb 20, 2018. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 2018.
The GAO reviewed SEC's disclosure requirements, guidance, and reports on changes in climate-related disclosures; queried SEC's filings system to identify comment letters with issues on climate-related disclosures; identified examples of climate-related disclosures in companies' filings; and interviewed SEC staff and representatives of stakeholder groups, such as industry associations from five industry groups (including insurance), and nonprofit organizations that work with investors. The GAO selected these stakeholders because they were from industries the GAO considered to be likely affected by climate change-related matters due to the nature of their operations, or have a key interest in climate-related issues.

WSJ editorial: Politics have ruined climate policy

*The article is re-published with permission, copyright 2018 E&E Publishing Service, LLC, An E&E Publishing Service

Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A University of California, Berkeley, policy professor is arguing that U.S. climate change policy has devolved into a leftist fringe issue with no serious momentum behind it.

"Climate alarm is like a car alarm - a blaring noise people are tuning out," Steven Hayward, a resident scholar at UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Monday. "All that remains is boilerplate rhetoric from the political class, frivolous nuisance lawsuits, and bureaucratic mandates on behalf of special-interest renewable-energy rent seekers."

Hayward argued that the cause has lost its vitality and that President Trump's "ostentatious withdrawal from the Paris Agreement merely ratified a trend long becoming evident." Its "last gasp," he said, is the current broadening of the movement to include gender, social injustice and intergenerational issues - "the descent of climate change into the abyss of social-justice identity politics."

Many political movements follow a similar trajectory of fervency followed by loss of public interest, he noted, including those dealing with crime, poverty and even the U.S.-Soviet space race. He also said the climate community should not have discarded nuclear power as a low-carbon option.

"Scientists who are genuinely worried about the potential for catastrophic climate change ought to be the most outraged at how the left politicized the issue and how the international policy community narrowed the range of acceptable responses," he wrote. "Treating climate change as a planet-scale problem that could be solved only by an international regulatory scheme transformed the issue into a political creed for committed believers. Causes that live by politics, die by politics" (Steven Hayward, Wall Street Journal, June 4).