There is definite proof that sustainability-focused funds are outperforming their conventional counterparts. But some experts believe the traditional explanations for this are wrong.
"It's a reality we will have to face for the rest of our lives," he says, magnanimously congratulating Al Gore on his Nobel Peace prize for advocating the case of doom-saying global warning. As Bob Carr's state government was implementing carbon schemes when Al Gore was focusing on hanging chads and having the 2000 election stolen from under his nose, Carr was being ultra-sporting in his praise for Gore.
He pointed out that the International Panel for Climate Change, co-winners of the Nobel prize is currently indicating that emisssions are becoming even more serious and we are closing in on the tipping point.
Previewing 'Kyoto 2' he foresaw a proviso whereby owners of existing old rainforests would get some credit (i.e cash) for not cutting down their trees and re-planting with new saplings. This is what provincial governors in Indonesia and community leaders in Papua New Guinea have been waiting for for many years, and the sound of their salivating is almost audible in Singapore.
The problem has been that their mature forests do not absorb anything like as much carbon as young growing trees, after all they have stopped growing and they simply bank the carbon absorbed, rather like coal does. The threats therefore that the jungle-owners have used have been that they might just cut down their trees, and if they burnt the logs that would release even more carbon back in to the atmosphere. Their trees make ransomable rooted hostages, and of course the world doesn't want the rainforests to be cut down. A nice little earner for the third world.
Macquarie is nonetheless walking the walk in the proper way, for it owns a plantation of 12 million trees on 5,000 acres of deforested agricultural land.
It's not always clear if everyone else is. The UN is to convene its meeting in Bali, which will herald 15,000 bureaucrats and envirnmentalists making their way to the serene Balinese shores. With the likes of Kyoto and Bali on the roster, they certainly aren't fans of video-conferences.
The Indonesian authorities have promised to plant millions of trees to cover all the emissions caused by the delegates making their business class way to Bali. The offset industry has become opaque, with it being unclear how many dollars go to the arranger, and how many actually go to green schemes. Thailand recently saw thousands of delegates arrive to discuss philantropic eco-matters, but the planned offset plantation certainly remained relatively uncontaminated by trees thereafter.
"China is not in denial about climate change," says Carr. That is just as well, because if you think that global warning is caused by intensified solar activity rather than carbon-emissions, you'll make as many friends as a whingeing pom at a Macquarie Infrastructure conference.
"China won't accept an emissions cap that could harm its growth," he adds. "But I think there could be a market rewarding China for gains in electricity efficiency, perhaps a scheme trading in Beijing which examines the level of carbon intensity in each point of GDP growth."
China is building coal fired power stations at quick tempo, adding each year the same as the entire national grid of the UK. (China's reliance on coal-power is about equal to that of Australia, which in turn is in denial about nuclear power). The concept of global warning was arguably invented in the UK, by a Maggie Thatcher Government eager to discredit the coal industry under bolshie union leader Arthur Scargill in the 1980's. From there, if you were anti-coal and anti-carbon, you got your scientific funding.
Your own incumbent government will tell you it is doing a great job reducing pollution. Arnold Schwarzenegger's California administration says it wants to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, and Carr mentioned that other states in the USA may follow suit in view of the lack of action from Washington.
Another problem is 'How do you measure it?'. Bob Carr points out that the problem is a global one, one nation's emissions simply blow over to your country. Depending on how you count it, (whether you include, for example, aviation and shipping), the UK's emissions may have either gone up or gone down. Germany made GBP 300 million ($609 million) in one year on carbon credits, though in that same year still ordered 26 new coal-fired power stations.
To get the clarity they want to make informed portfolio decisions, asset owners and managers must now blend and adapt multiple sources of traditional and non-traditional data to create actionable insights, said speakers at a webinar hosted by AsianInvestor and IHS Markit.
The country's largest insurer Ping An set up a $62 billion green investment target by 2025. Several more players are also joining the hunt for sustainable assets.
The boss of Thailand’s second-largest pension fund hopes that proposed changes in the law will help her diversify more into overseas markets. She is particularly bullish on China.
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