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The world’s largest asset manager will double the number of ESG exchange-traded funds it offers to 150 and drop firms with over a quarter of revenues from thermal coal from its actively managed portfolios. BlackRock will also vote against management that are not making progress on ESG factors and push firms to disclose how they would operate “under a scenario where the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees is fully realized.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: BlackRock’s moves follow multiple climate-change protests outside its offices, letters from U.S. Congress members and several analyses showing it has among the worst records on climate-change voting. The Sunrise Project, which was part of the protests, mostly welcomed the changes, saying they would put pressure on similar firms like Vanguard and State Street Global Advisors. The changes come one week after BlackRock signed the Climate Action 100+ pledge, promising to pressure its portfolio companies to do more on climate change. Today’s announcement goes further, laying out sweeping changes for BlackRock’s portfolio and its own operations. The changes were announced in BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s annual letter, which has driven industry-wide change in the past. In his 2018 missive, Fink called on CEOs to explain their wider social purpose beyond shareholder returns. That helped spark a broader movement, including a 2019 announcement from 181 of the top CEOs in the U.S. that shareholder value was no longer their first priority. In a separate 2018 letter, Fink called for greater action on gun control.

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Consultants hired by ExxonMobil’s Canadian subsidiary knew as early as the late 1960s that its activities harmed  the environment, and warned Imperial “could be encouraged to support the electric car, nuclear energy and other technology favouring competitive fuels.” Instead of addressing the problems, the company launched a public relations campaign to quiet the backlash to climate change, among other actions. An Imperial spokesperson told The Intercept the archival documents “reflect the conversations that were happening at the time” around climate change. (The Intercept)

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Talking point: The revelations add to the growing body of evidence showing widespread complacency among oil and gas companies about their contributions to global warming. Imperial’s consultants flagged the company’s role in the impending climate crisis when scientists now say there was still time to reverse many of the effects of global warming. More than 50 years later, fuel-reliant industries are moving toward electric cars the alternative energies, as Imperial’s consultants predicted. But Imperial itself has been slow to invest in renewable energy, even by oil industry standards. In 2018, the company said it would reduce its carbon emissions from the Alberta oilsands by 10 per cent over its 2016 levels.

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The European Central Bank (ECB) president plans to use the bank’s upcoming monetary policy review, announced last week, to address climate change issues, according to sources who spoke to the Financial Times. This will be the first time the institution has factored climate change into a comprehensive review. (Financial Times)

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Talking point: The move would challenge the convention that national governments, not central banks, legislate climate change policy. Germany’s central bank president Jens Weidmann, for instance, has said he would be critical of the ECB’s use of monetary policy to tackle climate change. U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell recently told Congress that climate change is the mandate of “elected officials, not us.” And while Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor who’s championed climate change factors in financial decision-making, plans to stress-test banks with “catastrophic” climate scenarios, even he isn’t going as far as as Lagarde might.

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A UN report shows that the rollout of renewable energy technology is an “easy win” in the battle to mitigate the climate crisis, but warned that clean energy needs to be deployed much more quickly to limit global heating. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Despite the increasing use of climate-friendly tech—including a US$272.9-billion global investment in renewables in 2018, three times more than was spent on coal and gas—steep emissions cuts are nowhere on the horizon, according to the UN’s 2019 Emissions Gap report. Canada is singled out as one of the handful of G20 countries set to either miss its targets or “not achieve them with great certainty.” The report mentions Canada is on track to meet its 2030 coal phase-out commitment, but notes those plants will be replaced with natural gas variants, which may increase emissions. Canada’s 2019 budget has also committed to a $300-million investment in zero-emission vehicles, with 100 per cent sales targets by 2040, and a $5-billion Clean Power Fund intended to help shift Canadian industries toward clean electricity. Those measures aren’t enough for Canada to meet its pledge to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, the UN report finds. The report notes that overall, with demand for energy services growing 30 per cent by 2040, “the sheer scale of investment needed for accelerating energy transitions is very large.”

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The plan commits the bank to “robust” climate-related governance and reporting. It says it will integrate climate risk assessments more in lending, financing and investing, decarbonize its operations and create a “Climate Change Centre of Excellence.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: The pressure to shift toward sustainable financing has increased since May, when the Bank of Canada first listed climate change as one of six vulnerabilities in the Canadian financial system. The central bank recognized that investors are not seeing prices that factor increasingly serious climate risks (due to a lack of transparency around carbon exposure), which could lead to “fire sales” that may destabilize the economy. Scotiabank, which manages more than $1 trillion in assets, issued its first green bond in July at US$500 million that invested in renewable energy, clean transportation and green buildings.

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The report from the consulting firm also says the world is likely to see greater temperature increases than just 1 C. It found that emerging economies with warmer climates are likely to be worse off compared to larger, industrialized economies in cooler climates. Meanwhile, new research from the federal Treasury Board says Canada’s buildings, coastlines and northern communities are most vulnerable to the risks of climate change. (CBC)

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Talking point: Today’s report is the latest attempt to analyze what the economic impacts of climate change will be on Canada. In April, a report from Environment and Climate Change Canada found that Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. An analysis done by non-profit CDP found that some of the world’s biggest companies anticipate that climate change will harm their bottom lines in the next five years. And, my colleague Catherine reported in June that some of Canada’s largest companies are making greater efforts to invest sustainably due to climate change concerns.

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The party would create a two-year tax credit for energy-saving home renovations; reduce the income tax rate for revenue generated by green-technology patents; require companies that emit more than 40 kilotonnes of greenhouse gasses annually to invest in green technology R&D; give tax incentives to industries that reduce emissions in other countries; provide $250 million for green technology venture capital funds-of-funds that raise $1 billion in private money; and make Export Development Canada (EDC) issue more green bonds. The plan, announced by opposition leader Andrew Scheer on Wednesday, does not specify by how much its measures would reduce emissions. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The Conservative leader contrasted his approach with the Liberal government’s carbon pricing system, which he called a “tax grab.” However, the current government has already allocated billions to cleantech. Sustainable Development Technology Canada, which supports commercialization projects, has also increasingly focused on scale-ups with products that are almost ready to sell. And, on Tuesday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to use all the tax revenue and profits—estimated at more than $500 million annually—from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on cleantech investments.

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An analysis of 215 of the world’s 500 biggest companies found that climate change could cost their businesses about US$1 trillion in the next decade if the companies do not take steps to mitigate the risks, according to a report from CDP, a non-profit that helps companies publicly disclose the risks and opportunities climate change poses to their businesses. The majority of companies said they expect to start feeling the impacts within the next five years. (New York Times)

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Talking point: There are two primary ways climate change might impact businesses: extreme weather—including droughts, floods and heatwaves—could directly interfere with operations, and public and political pressure could dissuade consumers from doing business with certain companies. Both factors are driving a global push for companies to track their environmental—as well as social—impacts and disclose their records to the public: more than 7,000 companies worldwide reported to CDP in 2018. Canada is anticipating the final report from the expert panel on sustainable finance to land sometime this month; stakeholders are expecting the report to recommend companies and investors disclose their climate record, if they don’t already.

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The risks include insuring against damages to infrastructure caused by extreme-weather events, and the cost of shifting to a low-carbon economy. This is the first time the central bank has included climate change among its list of vulnerabilities to the financial system in its annual financial health report card. Alongside household debt and the housing market, cyber attacks were named as a significant threat. (Canadian Press)

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Talking point: This isn’t the first time the central bank has raised concerns around climate risk. In March, it joined a network of central banks that study climate change’s impact on financial systems and develop risk-management policies to deal with it. The federal government is starting to consider the issue, too. The 2019 federal budget included recommendations that companies disclose their carbon footprints and, later this spring, Ottawa’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance is expected to deliver its final report to the finance and environment ministers.