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Canada’s third-largest pension fund beefs ups plan to cut carbon emissions

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CALGARY, Alberta/TORONTO (Reuters) – Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (OTPP), Canada‘s third-largest pension fund, announced on Thursday new interim targets to cut the carbon emissions intensity of its portfolio as part of a plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

OTPP, which manages C$227.7 billion ($180.11 billion) in assets, plans to reduce emissions intensity by 45% by 2025 and 67% by 2030, from 2019 levels.

Fellow pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec also has a net-zero target by 2050, but environmental campaigners said OTPP’s interim targets are the strongest climate commitment yet from a Canadian pension fund.

Ziad Hindo, OTPP’s chief investment officer, said the fund would be looking to invest more in clean-energy companies, as well as firms offering software and services that allow other companies to transition to a lower carbon economy.

“Climate change permeates the entire investing landscape. Tackling it requires substantial effort and massive amounts of capital,” said Hindo. He compared the climate sector today with the technology sector in the 1990s, and predicted it would cause huge disruption across every industry.

OTPP is increasing staffing across various asset classes to keep up with growing investment in the climate sector, Hindo added. The fund’s portfolio currently includes more than C$30 billion in green investments such as renewable energy, energy storage, electrification, electricity transmission, energy efficiency and green real estate.

Unlike some large pension funds in the United States, OTPP is not divesting from oil and gas altogether, although it stopped actively investing in listed exploration and production companies in 2019.

“OTPP will need to go further if it wants to be considered a global leader on climate,” said Adam Scott, director of pension activist group Shift. “While this announcement describes how the OTPP will invest in solutions to the climate crisis, it makes no mention of how it will eliminate its exposure to the causes of it, namely high-risk fossil fuels.”

($1 = 1.2642 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Maiya Keidan and Nia Williams; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Brown Bolsters Student Financial Aid After 52% Investment Return – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Brown University will expand financial aid for students with fundraising gains and returns from its endowment, which led the Ivy League in investment performance, with a 52% increase. The school will increase scholarships for moderate-income students and develop a college-preparatory program for students in its hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, among other initiatives, according to a statement Monday. Brown didn’t detail how much will be spent on the programs. The endowment contributed $194 million to the university’s operating budget in fiscal 2021, Brown said in a statement Monday. “The university has an enduring commitment to ensuring that talented young people can afford to come to Brown, regardless of their socioeconomic background,” Brown University President Christina Paxson said in the statement. “We are fortunate that strong financials provide us with a rare opportunity to make new investments in cultivating the next generation of leaders.”

Because Brown’s endowment contribution to the university’s operating budget is based on average market value over the previous three years, the investment returns contributed in fiscal 2021 are expected to steadily increase in each of the coming years, the school said Monday.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Mastercard expands cryptocurrency services with wallets, loyalty rewards

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Mastercard Inc said on Monday it would allow partners on its network to enable their consumers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency using a digital wallet, as well as reward them with digital currencies under loyalty programs.

The credit card giant said it would offer these services in partnership with Bakkt Holdings Inc, the digital assets platform founded by NYSE-owner Intercontinental Exchange.

Founded in 2018, Bakkt went public earlier this year through a $2.1 billion merger with a blank-check company. Shares of the company were up 77% at $16.19 on Monday.

Mastercard said its partners can also allow customers earn and spend rewards in cryptocurrency instead of loyalty points.

The company had said in February https://www.reuters.com/article/us-crypto-currency-mastercard-idUSKBN2AA2WF it would begin offering support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year.

Last year, rival Visa Inc had partnered https://www.reuters.com/article/us-blockfi-crypto-currency-visa-idUSKBN28B603 with cryptocurrency startup BlockFi to offer a credit card that lets users earn bitcoin on purchases.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, touched a record high of $67,016 last week after the debut of the first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange traded fund. It has more than doubled in value this year.

 

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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EU makes first investment in hyperloop – GCR

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The hyperloop will theoretically be able to travel at the speed of a jet airliner (Dreamstime)
Dutch engineering spin-off Hardt Hyperloop has been awarded €15m by the European Commission, the first time that the EU has directly funded the development of the ultra-fast transport concept.

The grant was disbursed by the European Innovation Council Accelerator to help the Dutch engineer and its partners continue research and development.

Tim Houter, co-founder of Hardt, said in a press statement that the decision was a vote of confidence in his company and the technology.

“It’s great to have now gained the trust of the European Commission. Their support will help to accelerate the development of a European hyperloop network, bringing us much closer to significant carbon dioxide savings. European cities will be connected smarter, faster and cheaper.”

The funding will also progress the European Hyperloop Centre in Groningen, set to demonstrate lane-switching for a high-speed hyperloop system in 2023.

A pilot project to move freight between Amsterdam and Rotterdam is being investigated by companies, governments and network organisations. Houter said he hoped the route could be developed in the Netherlands within this decade.

The EU is particularly interested in hyperloop because of its fit with the European Green Deal, and the commission’s strategy for sustainable and smart mobility. According to Houter, a European-wide network could save 160 million tonnes of carbon on an annual basis, which would be “more than the entire emissions of the Netherlands”.

Hyperloop pods move autonomously through low-pressure tubes, propelled by fluctuating magnetic fields supplied by the “track” they float over.

Hardt Hyperloop was founded in 2016 by engineers at Delft Technical University. It was involved in building Europe’s first high-speed test facility, and has developed a lane-switching technology that is reckoned to be essential to the development of networks.

Its partners include Schiphol Airport, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Deutsche Bahn, Koolen Industries, InnoEnergy, Freigeist, Bam, Tata Steel and IHC.

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