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Economy

Commonwealth Company Directors in Spotlight Over Climate Change Liabilities

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Legal liability risks from climate change for British, Australian, Canadian and South African company directors and pension fund trustees will be assessed under a new Commonwealth Climate & Law Initiative (CCLI) launched during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta today today.

The Commonwealth Climate & Law Initiative is a new research, education, and outreach project focused on four Commonwealth countries: Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. CCLI will examine these issues in these countries and across other Commonwealth common law countries.

The initiative will examine the legal basis for directors and trustees to take account of physical climate change risk and societal responses to climate change. In addition, it will also assess the materiality of potential liabilities associated with inaction. CCLI is a joint initiative between the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, ClientEarth, and The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project.


The unparalleled economic risks from climate change have led to rising concerns over the legal liability risks for individuals, companies, and investors in recent months. In September 2015 Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned company directors could be held legally liable for failing to manage climate change risks. In early November 2015 the New York State Attorney General issued subpoenas to Exxon and Peabody Energy and began investigations over claims they misled the public and investors about the dangers and potential business risks associated with climate change.

These developments, and others, could potentially have significant implications for the insurance sector, but also for other parts of the financial system and for companies in carbon intensive sectors as well. Company directors and pension fund trustees, could be held liable for i) contributing to anthropogenic climate change, ii) not reasonably managing the risks associated with climate change, and/or iii) misleading investors about the business risks of climate change or failing to comply with legal reporting requirements.

Ben Caldecott, Programme Director at University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, said: “Company directors could be at risk of litigation if they mislead investors and the public about climate change. They may also face litigation for having contributed to anthropogenic climate change. This is a very new area, but one with potentially significant consequences. This new initiative will help investors to assess the materiality of these potential liabilities and inform best practice across Commonwealth common law countries.”

Jessica Fries, Executive Chairman of The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project, said: “Climate change poses significant risks for pension funds and companies, in addition to that faced by society as a whole. Trustees and company directors need to ensure that they respond appropriately. A proper understanding of the legal and fiduciary responsibilities is key. This new initiative will explore the issues faced and help to develop a response.”


James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth, said: “The days of treating climate change as a fringe concern are over and the potential for climate change litigation against companies or individual directors is growing. They urgently need clarity on their responsibilities, so this initiative is timely.”

Katalaina Sapolu, Director, Rule of Law, Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “The Initiative addresses a key intersection between climate change and national law. Its findings will support Commonwealth countries in formulating fair, balanced and progressive legal responses to climate change risks and responsibilities.”

Sarah Barker, Special Counsel, Minter Ellison (a leading Australian-based corporate law firm), said: “The relationship between climate change and corporate wealth generation continues to rapidly evolve. The CCLI’s work to clarify the legal obligations of directors on point will address a significant gap in the governance and risk management literature.  This will provide a critical foundation for directors and their advisors to remain assured that that risks and opportunities associated with climate change are being governed in accordance with their fiduciary duties.”

Ed Waitzer, Senior Partner, Stikeman Elliott LLP (a leading Canadian-based corporate law firm), said: “This timely initiative comes at (and will contribute to) an inflection point in the trajectory of the law. New regulation and expectations will touch the financial services and other sectors, as well as those directly responsible for the governance of issuers and investors in carbon-intensive industries. The implications will spread rapidly to other environmental and social issues. Mapping the trajectory of the law in this area is a societal imperative.”

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.


1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.


3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.


Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.


We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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