Global delays in tackling climate change will cost the world’s biggest companies nearly £1trn, according to the United Nations.
The claim is included in an eagerly-awaited report into the effect of climate change on global investments.
The UN will say the economic effects of these delays will cut the value of many industries and lower the returns for investors, including those saving for their pension.
The report, which has been seen by Sky News, concludes that transitioning the world to a low-carbon economy could see the assets of just 500 investment companies fall by more than £8.2trn.
And it adds that the world’s top 30,000 companies will face an extra bill of more than a trillion dollars thanks to slow progress in cutting carbon emissions.
The Paris Agreement of 2016 said that global governments should seek to limit the rise in the global temperature to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Although the agreement has now been ratified by 185 countries, there is widespread concern that carbon emissions remain higher than at any point in history.
In particular, there is a fear that while many people say they want to take action to stop climate change, they remain unconvinced that the costs of change are worthwhile.
I understand the UN believes it is crucial to persuade investors around the world that their financial interests are best served by confronting problems now, rather than risking vastly higher costs at a later date.
But the official leading the Bank of England’s work on climate change told Sky News that financial markets are at “a pivot point” and “further action might be needed” to bring in new regulations to deal with the failure of the market to adapt.
Sarah Breeden, the bank’s executive director for international banks supervision, said: “Our focus at the moment is dealing with the unprecedented challenge of trying to analyse and understand this risk.
“This is an unprecedented challenge. It is for governments to set climate policy and it’s our job to ensure the financial system is resilient to whatever state of the world we find ourselves in.
“If the market is not doing a good job of managing that risk then it is incumbent upon us to think about whether further action might be needed to mitigate that risk.”
The UN report was written by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, and included input from asset management firms around the world, among them the UK insurance giant Aviva.
The company’s chief responsible investment officer, Dr Steve Waygood, told Sky News that climate change presents “an existential risk to our sector”.
He said: “The valuation of fossil fuel sector has gone up by about $580bn (£445bn) since the Paris Agreement pen was held, so there is not a managed transition away from fossil fuels. There’s actually more money going into fossil fuels.
“For the governments to think that their job is done now that the Paris Agreement is signed is wrong. This remains the world’s biggest market failure.
“The costs of inaction are categorically higher than the costs of taking action today, much, much higher. This is about economic sense, business sense – of course we care about the pandas and the polar bears as much as anybody – but this isn’t about them, it’s about our shareholders and our customers.”
Later this month, Aviva will use its shareholding in BP to back a resolution that calls upon the company to set clearer targets for reducing carbon emissions. Similar action by shareholders at Shell resulted in the company having to accept responsibility for emissions, and Dr Waygood said that he wanted BP to come up with a clearer plan for dealing with climate change.
“It’s not new to them, they’ve been thinking about it for decades. But I don’t see a strategy that says ‘if Paris were to be delivered, what would that mean?’. What is there strategy? How do they measure performance?
“We can send a message to other shareholders that this is a fundamental issue for the board of BP. They need to think five, 10, 20 years into the future.”
Saudi Arabia: Moderate Islamic scholars ‘to be executed’ | World News
Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing to execute three moderate Islamic scholars despite the international outrage that followed the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Sheikh Salman al Odah, a Muslim preacher with a million strong social media following, will be killed after the holy month of Ramadan say reports.
Amnesty International says more than 100 people have been executed this year, some beheaded and some crucified, including some younger than 18 when they were arrested.
Many of them have been Shia Muslims. The three named as next in line for execution are all Sunni.
Under de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman the Saudi regime has been even less tolerant of dissent than before.
Several women driving activists remain in jail even though the government has now ended the ban on women being behind the wheel.
Their relatives say they have been abused and subjected to threats of torture and rape.
The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul caused international outrage last year and led to intense pressure on the country’s leadership.
The CIA and other observers believe it was carried out on orders from Mohammed bin Salman.
In an interview with Sky News shortly before his death, Mr Khashoggi expressed intense concern about the arrest of the three now facing execution, pointing out they were supporters of the kind of reforms their government claimed to be implementing.
The UK has defended maintaining close ties with the Saudi regime. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has visited the country several times since the Khashoggi murder.
The Foreign Office says those ties help the UK influence the Saudis.
But if these latest reports are true, such influence has failed to change minds in Riyadh.
The Saudi leadership appears undeterred and determined to continue its policy of zero tolerance of dissent with lethal effect.
Two-metre sea level rise would have ‘profound impact on humanity’ | World News
Global sea levels could rise by more than two metres causing catastrophic consequences for the world, according to a team of scientists.
Such a rise could result in the loss of 1.79 million km2 of land, including critical regions of food production, and the potential displacement of up to 187 million people.
Traditional methods for predicting rising sea levels from the melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic are based on numerical modelling, but these remain challenging due to changing factors.
A team of international scientists used a technique called structured expert judgement to ask 22 ice sheet experts to estimate plausible ranges for future sea level rises.
They asked them to consider the projected melting of each of the Greenland, West Antarctic and East Antarctic ice sheets under low and high future global temperature rise scenarios.
Lead author professor Jonathan Bamber, from the University of Bristol, said: “Structured expert judgement provides a formal approach for estimating uncertain quantities based on current scientific understanding, and can be useful for estimating quantities that are difficult to model.
“Projections of total global subsequent sea level rise using this method yielded a small but meaningful probability of subsequent sea level rise exceeding two metres by the year 2100 under the high temperature scenario, roughly equivalent to ‘business as usual’, well above the ‘likely’ upper limit presented in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
Prof Bamber added: “Such a rise in global sea level could result in land loss of 1.79 million km2, including critical regions of food production, and potential displacement of up to 187 million people.
“A subsequent sea level rise of this magnitude would clearly have profound consequences for humanity.”
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
:: Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com.
Monks to resurrect ‘lost’ beer from 12th century – it’s 10.8% | World News
Monks at an abbey in Belgium will be brewing beer again after a 200-year break.
The Grimbergen Abbey was ransacked and the brewery smashed in 1795 by French troops and the monks stopped brewing their own beer.
But plans to build a new brewery have been approved and the monks expect to have their first ales by the end of 2020.
Father Karel Stautemas, one of 11 Norbertine canons living in the abbey, said he wouldn’t encourage people to drink too much of the beer, which is 10.8% alcohol by volume.
“One or two is okay,” said Grimbergen mayor Chris Selleslagh.
Father Stautemas took a brewing course in Copenhagen and will become one of five or six workers at the new brewery.
“For us, it’s important to look to the heritage, to the tradition of the fathers for brewing beer because it was always here,” he said.
“Brewing and religious life always came together.”
The monks spent four years researching the methods and recipe for the abbey’s traditional brew, as it was all thought to have been lost when it was ransacked.
But Father Stautemas told The Guardian no one could read the old books, because they were in old Latin and old Dutch.
He said: “We’ve spent hours leafing through the books and have discovered ingredient lists for beers brewed in previous centuries, the hops used, the types of barrels and bottles, and even a list of the actual beers produced centuries ago.”
But only some of the same methods and recipes will be transferred, as ale was a “bit tasteless” in those times.
Marc-Antoine Sochon, an expert at Carlsberg who will be the project’s brewmaster, said: “We will keep the same yeast, which will bring all the fruitiness and spiciness and we will start to dig into more innovations, such as barrel-ageing, dry-hopping.”
The abbey, which was founded in 1128, has been tied to commercial brewers since the 1950s, when brewer Maes asked the monks to use their name and their emblem, the phoenix, on its abbey beer.
That beer is still manufactured, by Heineken’s Alken-Maes for Belgium and Carlsberg for other markets. The abbey earns royalties.
The abbey has planted hops in the garden and plans to also open a visitors centre.
Monks will stick to the Trappist beer maker rules, even though they aren’t Trappist, and will brew within the abbey walls, control the brewing and put the profits into maintaining the abbey and supporting charitable causes.
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