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BMO Global Asset Management On #COP21 and Investor Outlook

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Vicki Bakhshi, Director, Head of Governance and Sustainable Investments, BMO Global Asset Management (EMEA), provides a Viewpoint note on COP21 and the Paris Climate Deal.

Her note says:

· Paris Agreement meets all key investor expectations: in setting out a long-term goal, including national commitments – which will be reviewed in 2018 and then every five years. The review process has also introduced a “naming-and-shaming” of countries lagging behind in carbon reduction efforts by 2023. The involvement of developed countries to fully fund the Green Climate Fund – up to $100 billion per year from a ‘variety of sources’ which will also include private finance – is also highlighted.

· The role of private sector involvement was vital: as noted by President Hollande, who praised the support of ‘businesses and investors’ in the negotiating process. BMO Global Asset Management’s Governance and Sustainable Investment (GSI) team has been at the forefront of investor action, taking a leading role in promoting joint investor activity through the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC).

Key activities in 2014-15 included co-authoring, with the IIGCC, the Global Investor Statement on Climate Change, which attracted 409 supporters with over $24 trillion in assets and was delivered to Heads of State at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September 2014. The team also co-authored an open letter to G7 and G20 finance ministers expressing investors’ concerns regarding the systemic nature of climate risks, which was signed by 120 investor CEOs, and had the support of four regional investor groups on climate change and the Principles for Responsible Investment. The team was present at COP 21, as part of the IIGCC observer delegation, helping to represent investors’ voices during meetings with a number of country negotiating teams, including the US, EU, and G77.

What next for investors?

· 2016 may see a scaling up of actions by financial regulators on climate change, with potential consequences for investors

· Key developments in financial regulation to watch include:

o Financial Stability Board: Mark Carney, head of the Bank of England and chair of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), announced at the Paris Summit that the FSB was establishing an industry led Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to be chaired by Michael Bloomberg; this is expected to conclude at the end of 2016.

o France: the Energy Transition Law requires institutional investors to provide the carbon footprints of their investments, to review their portfolio’s alignment with a low-carbon development pathway, and to disclose methods of integrating climate related risks; guidance on implementation is expected to be finalised shortly.

o Sweden: Sweden was the first country to announce a review aimed at creating an obligation for its financial regulator to ensure the financial system is ‘financing sustainable development’.

These developments follow the extensive work by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations and others to understand which policies hinder or support the deployment of capital towards sustainable solutions. As stakeholders at the highest ministerial levels were consulted during this research, it is now firmly embedded within the G20 process – with the Chinese G20 presidency making ‘Green Finance’ a priority area for 2016.

The Viewpoint concludes: “The Paris Agreement makes climate change, and the energy transition, a mainstream investor issue. The focus now shifts to implementation. We expect regulators’ attention to climate change to continue to increase, both as a result of the deal itself and in the broader context of a trend toward encouraging investors to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues – as seen in developments including the introduction of Stewardship codes in Asia, the revisions to the EU Shareholder Rights Directive, and the Ontario ESG legislation for pension plans. Existing investor initiatives to improve the understanding of climate risks and opportunities, such as the ‘Climate Change Investment Solutions: A Guide for Asset Owners’ compiled by the Global Investor Coalition, provide a strong foundation for the discussions we expect to continue into 2016 and beyond.”

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands

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Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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