Adapting to 4C of global warming

Emma Howard Boyd’s speech to the Committee on Climate Change’s Adapting to 3C+ of global warming conference

Before I start my speech, I’d like to add my condolences to the Committee on Climate Change and everyone who knew Professor Dame Georgina Mace.

Georgina’s work assessing the impacts of climate change and the effect of adaptation on the natural environment has never been more important.

Her contribution will help every one of us shape a more resilient world in the future.

That goal is what my speech today is all about.

When you look out of a train window, the trees up-close fly by in a blur, the fields in the middle distance glide past, and the far-off hills don’t appear to move at all.

Similarly, in public life: newspaper headlines fly by in a blur, political shifts glide past, and the natural world doesn’t appear to move at all.

Or so it was… until the climate crisis began to distort and accelerate environmental change.

Today, it is as if when we look out of the train window, we can see the far-off hills gathering speed and catching up with our train.

Without adaptation, climate change could depress growth in global agriculture yields up to 30 percent by 2050, disproportionately affecting small farms around the world.

The number of people who lack sufficient water, at least one month per year, could soar from 3.6 billion today, to more than 5 billion by 2050. We take the first line of COVID defence – washing our hands – for granted in the UK, but Water Aid point out this is a luxury that billions of people can’t afford.

Rising seas could force hundreds of millions of people in coastal cities from their homes, with total costs of more than one trillion dollars each year by 2050.

Climate change could also push more than 100 million people in developing countries below the poverty line by 2030.

No wonder more and more people are experiencing “eco-anxiety”.

I want to thank:

The Committee on Climate Change;
The National Centre for Atmospheric Research;
And, the UK’s Climate Resilience Champions…

…for inviting me, for hosting this event, and for showing leadership on adaptation.

And, I want to apologise if I’ve made everyone’s eco-anxiety worse.

What I really want to do is raise the profile of the UK’s expertise on adapting to climate change.

There are many things to be optimistic about.

We definitely have the knowledge in this country to deliver on the Prime Minister’s ambition for a green industrial revolution that “will create hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of jobs”.

That said, any discussion of the green recovery automatically infers the possibility of significant climate shocks.

The Committee on Climate Change and the Adaptation Committee do a superb job of integrating both agendas.

I hope the Environment Agency’s goal to become a net-zero organisation by 2030, will also demonstrate how to do both at the same time.

And, the joining of the FCO and DFID is an opportunity to improve these links in Government.

As we know, countries most vulnerable to climate risk often criticise developed nations for being too focussed on reducing emissions, rather than helping them prepare.

The new FCDO potentially means we can better unite work to enhance the world’s green economy, with helping our neighbours prepare for the humanitarian impacts of climate change.

Last week, Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh, commended the UK’s push to begin a “race to zero emissions” at COP26, and suggested:

“There could also be a race to zero vulnerability of every country by 2030 as an equivalent to the race to zero emissions.”

Treating mitigation and adaptation as two sides of the same coin is key to the success of the green recovery from coronavirus…

…and also the UK’s ability to inspire a game-changing international agreement at COP26.

Here in England, the Environment Agency has been criticised for saying we are helping the country prepare for 4 degrees of global warming.

The accusation is that we are suggesting such a future will be manageable, and so we are protecting the status quo by overstating our abilities.

Today’s conference feels like an appropriate place to address that.

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said we have 12 years to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Last year, the insurance giant Aviva measured investments in its equities portfolios against the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement, and found they are on track for a 3.4 degree rise.

As a result, they have announced a new 2050 net-zero carbon emissions target for their auto-enrolment default pension funds.

And they should be applauded for that leadership.

But, distressingly, their analysis – calculated using Carbon Delta’s warming potential metric – said the FTSE 100 index as a whole is heading towards 3.9 degrees.

To be reductive, my view is this:

No government or government agency can possibly know what the status quo looks like in either a 1.5 degree or even a 3.9 degree world… but if we don’t take significant action to both reduce emissions and adapt right now, we’re on a hiding to nothing.

Even though the Environment Agency has a huge amount of practical, place based expertise to lend to this effort: it would be daft to suggest that we, or even the Government, can do this alone.

Creating a more resilient country depends on listening, collaboration and action from local communities, through national government and the private sector, to the international stage.

Last month – which (incidentally) was the warmest September on record globally – the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy finished its journey through Parliament.

Which means we can now put it into practice.

To do this we need individuals, communities, charities, businesses, farmers, land managers, and infrastructure providers, to build up the resilience of millions more homes and businesses.

This means the construction of hard flood defences, river channel maintenance and sustainable drainage systems, nature based solutions, property level resilience, and alternative land management practices…

We will work with anyone and everyone – even the beavers – to identify the best combination of measures to tackle unique risks in specific places.

Our work got a significant boost this year, when the Government announced a record £5.2bn long-term investment to accelerate flood scheme construction in England.

It is money well spent: for every £1 used to improve protection from flooding and coastal erosion, we avoid around £5 of property damages.

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority say that between £29 billion and £37 billion of infrastructure projects will be brought to market in the remainder of this financial year.

If even a small portion of those investments is dedicated to resilience, the long term benefits will reward local communities as well as shareholders.

I read the other day that the wildfires in northern California have expanded beyond 1 million acres.

This means the fire can no longer be called a “megafire” but needs a new classification: it’s a “gigafire”.

Last month, the State of California joined the Coalition for Climate-Resilient Investment, launched by Alok Sharma at the UN General Assembly last year.

The CCRI is made up of businesses and organisations that now represent over 10 trillion dollars in assets.

That kind of crazy money shows that adaptation is no longer a niche topic of green finance: people in the City increasingly get it.

Just over a week ago, Storm Alex brought over a month’s worth of rain to some parts of the country… we were lucky it didn’t hit us as it did France and Italy.

But, it’s only mid-October and there’s already a lot of water in the ground.

Everyone needs to be ready this winter, so please check your flood risk and look up what to do in a flood.

The Environment Agency is ready.

During the height of the coronavirus lockdown, we developed safe ways of working enabling more than 90% of flood schemes across the country to continue.

And, consultations continue to be carried out virtually with communities.

The flood schemes will better protect people.

For example, the £11m scheme in Lancaster, ensuring that flood risk in the city is significantly reduced…

… and the £4.8m Marton West Beck scheme that will protect 485 homes in central Middlesbrough against flooding from the beck, the sea, and surface water.

Whether too much water in the form of floods; too little in the form of droughts; or poor water quality from pollution…people’s relationship with water is threatened by changes we see today.

These changes are linked, so our response should be joined up too.

It doesn’t make sense to deal with flood protection and environmental improvements in separate silos.

At the Environment Agency, these teams work closely together, sharing information and expertise…

… not to mention offices and depots…

… because it’s vital to take an integrated approach to water management in catchments.

The River Severn Partnership takes a collaborative approach to deliver resilient development in an area with low productivity but a significant rural economy.

We are working with the community, business and government to make the economy more resilient to flood and drought, while potentially giving the area an annual £11.4bn uplift.

In London, we’ve worked on an innovative regulatory approach to the new super sewer – The Thames Tideway – to help deliver an enormous infrastructure project that will not only lead to improved water quality and habitats…

… but has created 2,800 jobs in construction, will increase flood resilience, and create new riverside public spaces.

The coronavirus has held the world’s attention in 2020, but this was also a year when so many powerful storms formed over the Atlantic, the US National Hurricane Center ran out of names for them.

Adapting to multiple changes all at once can’t be done by looking at the world from one perspective.

In June, the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson wrote:

“It is imperative that the recovery from COVID-19 is completely aligned with addressing the urgency of the climate crisis.

“We need to listen to the young people, to climate-vulnerable states, to indigenous peoples, to women, to the scientists, to environmental defenders, and we need to ensure the global community is supportive of their needs, including action on the provision of climate finance.”

I hope we get our act together in this “climate decade” so we are only heading for a 1.5 degree world, but the economic analysis suggests we’re heading for a 3.9 degree world.

And yet! There are reasons to be positive, as David Attenborough and Prince William’s “Earthshot” prize will no doubt demonstrate.

I look with optimism towards a green recovery from coronavirus in which we both reduce emissions, and also adapt.

But, at the Environment Agency we don’t just hope, we’re getting on with it.

Thank you very much.

Emma Howard Boyd is Chair of the Environment Agency

Original Source: businessgreen.com

FILE PHOTO: Warwick University graduates on the day of their graduation ceremony in Warwick, Britain July 17, 2017. Picture taken July 17, 2017.     REUTERS/Russell BoyceRussell Boyce/Reuters

 

The Department of Education has not renewed contracts with student loan servicer Great Lakes and Nelnet, with plans to change the way student loans are serviced and repaid. 
The Department of Education wants to change to a model where loans are paid directly through studentaid.gov for more consistency and accountability. 
If the Department of Education doesn’t change plans, 12.3 million Great Lakes and Nelnet customers will have their loans changed to another servicer in December.
In the meantime, borrowers should continue making regular payments to their current servicer.
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As of December 2020, Great Lakes and parent company Nelnet will no longer service federal student loans. 

According to a press release by the Department of Education released July 24, the two companies haven’t made the list of the five companies with contracts to service federal student loans. The release states that five companies — EdFinancial Services, F.H. Cann & Associates, Maximus, MOHELA, and Trellis Company — will hold contracts from the Department of Education. See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Original Source: feedproxy.google.com

Businesses should disclose climate risks to build the Net-Zero economy

Former Labour MP and now chair of Lexington’s Responsible Business Practice Mary Creagh explains why all businesses should confront the risks posed by climate change

The days when a company’s health and prospects were measured solely by financial performance are over. After the 2008 financial crisis, the 2015 Paris climate agreement and now the Covid-19 pandemic, investors, customers and stakeholders increasingly expect businesses to publish robust non-financial information to help them assess a company’s reputation, resilience and sustainability.

The coronavirus crisis is shining a light on social factors – how a business treats its employees, customers and suppliers – but challenges remain as to how to effectively evaluate the ‘E’ in ESG. While the government’s new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) scheme will help investors measure how well a business is reducing its emissions curve, a company’s exposure to climate risks goes far beyond these metrics. To build a sustainable, prosperous, net-zero economy, environmental factors must be fully integrated into corporate strategy, decision-making and disclosures.

What are climate risks ?

The Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) categorises climate risks into two types: physical and transition risks.

Physical risks: Flooding is the greatest risk the UK faces from climate change, as the oceans warm and ice sheets melt. Global heating increases the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, storms, heatwaves and droughts. Farming, food, infrastructure, home building and insurance businesses are all vulnerable to supply chain and operational disruptions. In a 4C world, the current insurance business model ceases to exist.
Transition risks: Companies in high carbon sectors, who fail to diversify and adapt may see their valuations fall, as they are based on ‘stranded assets’ – e.g. oil reserves which can never be used in a 1.5C compliant world. These companies face increased compliance and diversification costs. Whole sectors may find themselves stigmatised, leading to decreased consumer demand and difficulties in accessing finance.

There is also a third, emerging risk: liability risk, which is when people who suffer losses from climate change take legal action to recover damages from those responsible.

What is the UK government doing?

The UK government has legislated to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Its Green Finance strategy wants to drive capital flows into sustainable investment and manage the financial risks from climate change, through increased transparency. In March, the Financial Conduct Authority announced proposals to improve climate-related disclosures by listed companies. The new rule will require all commercial companies with a premium listing to make disclosures compliant with the approach set out by the TCFD or to explain why not. There is every chance that these proposals will become mandatory in the near future.

The Prudential Regulation Authority has published a framework for practitioners to assess climate-related financial risks. Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, has changed the law so pension fund trustees must set out how they will manage the ESG risks, including from climate change, to pension schemes. These changes herald a sea change in moving business and financial ecosystems to a more sustainable footing.

How should businesses respond?

Assessing a business’s exposure to climate risk is complex. Companies may feel overwhelmed, particularly if they don’t have in-house expertise. However, there are three steps a business can take to get started:

Ensure you are considering climate-related risk on the business (supply chain, raw materials, operational, flood, heat, water stress, valuation), not the other way around. Companies are used to disclosing their impacts on the environment. The next step is to consider how climate change may impact future business growth.
Assess the materiality of climate risk on your business through a formal assessment and stakeholder engagement process. The results can be disclosed and you can formulate the governance, risk management processes and targets your business needs, to manage and mitigate them. This will give investors and stakeholders confidence that you are asking the right questions and managing risks appropriately.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – all businesses can make a start on disclosing climate-related risks in their annual report. Don’t be afraid to bring in experts to speak to your board and senior leadership team, and ask the hard questions and secure buy-in.

Finally, as the economy resets, remember that this is a business opportunity. The UK can show the world how to build and finance the green recovery. Consider what you have learned. How you build back better. And how health, nature, the economy and our climate cannot exist in isolation, but depend on each other for survival. Caring for the planet is now everyone’s business.

 

Mary Creagh is chair of Lexington’Communication’s Responsible Business practice

Original Source: businessgreen.com

Are You Building A Brand Of Contradictions?

As brands continue to try and navigate a world of awakening and change, its clear they are on a learning journey. With plenty of opportunities to learn, from women’s rights, climate change, homelessness, immigration, and now racial equality. It’s impossible to be against any of these issues. So why do brands feel the need to state the obvious?

As Mark Ritson writes in a scathing and powerful MarketingWeek article, “We marketers live in a branding bubble of our own creation. We think brands matter. That our brand matters. We think advertising is important. We think other people care. And with each passing year our branding bubble appears to become less and less transparent. An increasing proportion of marketers lose touch with the consumers they are meant to take their coordinates from, and fall for the bullsh*t that their brands and their communications make any kind of difference to society at large – and that this impact is a crucial part of their job.”

I think brands matter a great deal. But I also think actions speak louder than words, or inexpensive GIFs that can be spun up in seconds and posted to social media with little effort and even less accountability. Let’s look at some examples:

Joining a chorus of brands, Amazon statement said that “inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people in our country must stop” and promised to “stand in solidarity with the Black community—our employees, customers, and partners—in the fight against systemic racism and injustice.” But what about that time they fired a black contractor for asking about the Coronavirus? Or that time they tried to smear a warehouse organizer as “not smart or articulate.”

A Vice article shares how Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted something similar, stating the company “stands in solidarity with the Black community and with peaceful protests against the injustice and racism that have plagued our nation for too long.” To that end, he announced a $1 million donation to two racial justice think tanks “to support their work in making criminal justice in America more just for all.” Yet in the background, Uber is fighting legislation that would reclassify their workforce and entitle them to benefits such as health insurance and minimum wage. With a large number of minorities comprising the workforce, how solid is that solidarity?

Ritson’s article in MarketingWeek includes numerous examples of our most highly cherished brands: Apple, Nike, Adidas, Spotify, L’Oreal – each of which has professed strong alignment to the movement for racial justice, even donating money to associated causes, yet all of their senior leadership remains white. Riston clarifies, “I am not saying that companies have to have black people in their leadership teams as a general policy. But if you believe what you are telling the market about black voices, it should start with switching out some of your white executives in your upper echelons for executives of color. Not because these people are bad. Not because you have to encourage more diversity in the boardroom. But because you are claiming to care about black issues and black representation – so do something meaningful about it.”

In a tweet, writer and brand strategist Vikki Ross shares how she answered one of her clients who asked “should we change our logo?” with a series of pointed questions that’s worth reading, internalizing and spending some time thinking upon:

Do you support the cause? Or do you want to look like you do?
Do you always support the cause? Or do you support the cause when it is trending?
If you change your logo to support the cause, when do you change it back?
When you change your logo back, don’t you support the cause anymore?
If you can change your logo back, when will you do it?
What happens if another cause is trending? Do you change your logo again?
How do you keep up with showing support for every cause? What if you miss one?
If you keep changing your logo, what is your logo?
Should you just always do what feels like the right thing at the time? Assuming your business is always doing the right thing, whether it promotes it via its logo or not.

Yes, these are challenging times. #blackouttuesday would have been better if brands had just gone dark, and listened, and thought about the changes they will or won’t make, before rushing to deploy content and messaging. We know there is hurt, and we know most of the people on this planet want to do something to make the hurt less. But we need to remember that actions speak louder than words.

Like people, brands need to be the change they profess to want to see.

The Blake Project Can Help: Avoid contradictions. Think it through in The Brand Positioning Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education

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Original Source: brandingstrategyinsider.com

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