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The World's Courtrooms Could Unleash the Next Wave of Green Investing – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The legal risk for pension funds that fail to account for climate change in portfolio investments is about to become a little clearer.

While activists and investors around the world are using courts to push government officials and company executives to cut emissions, a trial set to start Monday in Australia offers an early test of whether money managers have a fiduciary duty to help combat the ravages of a warmer planet.

The case was brought by a 25-year-old environmental scientist, Mark McVeigh, who sued his A$57 billion ($41 billion) pension fund for not adequately disclosing or assessing the impact of climate change on its investments. His claim is part of a surge in global lawsuits — from the U.S. to the Philippines to the Netherlands — seeking to force changes intended to slow the pace of natural disasters including wildfires, floods, typhoons and droughts.

“Litigation has become a transnational movement,” said Joana Setzer, an assistant professorial research fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. For many, cases are “driven by frustration, by realizing that so many other routes to address climate change, especially international negotiations and national legislation, have been insufficient,” she said.

More than 700 such lawsuits were filed globally over the past five years, according to a database compiled by the Arnold & Porter law firm and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School in New York. Of the 1,680 total cases since 1986, about three quarters were in the U.S., and Australia emerged as the No. 2 venue with 113, the data show.

For example, eight teenagers and an 85-year-old nun sued to halt the expansion of a Whitehaven Coal Ltd. mine about 450 kilometers (280 miles) northwest of Sydney, alleging the environment minister has a duty to protect young people from climate change. And a law student sued the government for not disclosing climate change alongside other financial risks in its sovereign debt.

“Climate change is one of the biggest and most under-appreciated risks for asset prices, so forcing greater disclosure and intellectual rigor around it can only be a good thing,” said Franziska Jahn-Madell, a director at London’s Ruffer LLP, which manages about 20 billion pounds ($26 billion) of investor money.

In 2018, McVeigh sued Retail Employees Superannuation Trust, or Rest, claiming it wasn’t doing enough to protect his retirement savings against the impact of rising world temperatures. Rest manages money for about 2 million members — mostly shop keepers and grocery clerks.

In response, the fund said climate change is one of a variety of factors it considers when investing, court filings show.  “Rest rejects any suggestion that it has not acted in the best financial interests of its members or has not taken sufficient account of climate change risk in managing its investments,” the pension fund said in a statement.But McVeigh’s claim may have already had an impact. Rest restructured its investment team last year and hired a new chief investment officer, Andrew Lill, from Morningstar Inc., which has been warning of the climate’s ravages since at least 2017. The board revamped its roster of advisers, and the fund is mapping the carbon footprint of its stock portfolio. Rest said Lill’s appointment in August “had nothing to do” with the litigation.

“The McVeigh case and others like it have woken corporate Australia up to the real risk of litigation for failure to consider, disclose and respond to climate risks,” said Daisy Mallett, a Sydney-based attorney who specializes in arbitrations and investor-state disputes. “The judgment will be closely scrutinized to guide how Australian companies approach climate risk.”

Rest isn’t the only firm that’s been making changes. In 2017, Commonwealth Bank of Australia began estimating climate risks in its annual report — about a month after activists said in a lawsuit that the nation’s largest bank broke the law by not disclosing the potential impact on its business.

In the Netherlands, the country is being forced to cut emissions by at least 25% below 1990 levels before year end, after its highest court ruled the government had a legal obligation to prevent climate change. In Portugal, six young people sued 33 European Union states in September, alleging their insufficient action on climate change threatens their right to life.

The U.S. remains a key battleground. A potentially precedent-setting case filed in 2018 by about two dozen local governments in Maryland seeks financial damages from oil and gas producers for their role in causing climate change. BP Plc, Chevron Corp. and big energy companies — facing similar claims by governments in other state courts — want such cases heard in federal courts, which are seen more favorable to industry defendants.

At the same time, finance companies including Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are urging the U.S. government to start making businesses pay for their greenhouse gas emissions.

“Fossil-fuel companies, like tobacco companies before them, have allowed governments to pay for the harms caused by their products, harms that both industries spent decades concealing from the public,” said Korey Silverman-Roati, a climate law fellow at the Sabin Center. “As climate harms and costs continue to rise, more jurisdictions are likely to attempt to recoup their costs in court, and the pressure on courts to apportion those costs in a just way will only grow.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Brazil's Oil Giant Slashes Its Five-Year Investment Plan – OilPrice.com

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Brazil’s Oil Giant Slashes Its Five-Year Investment Plan | OilPrice.com

Charles Kennedy

Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com

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Brazil’s state energy giant Petrobras has cut its five-year investment plan by 27 percent to $55 billion, driven by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Reuters reported, citing a regulatory filing, that the company will focus its efforts on developing deepwater oilfields in the pre-salt zone that is estimated to contain billions of untapped barrels of oil. The pre-salt fields are Brazil’s main point of attraction for foreign energy firms, too.

Of the $55 billion Petrobras plans to spend over the next five years, most will go towards exploration and production. Still, at $46 billion, the sum to be allocated for exploration and production until 2025 is down from $64 billion planned a year ago.

The company also said it will only develop fields where it could break even at international oil prices of $35 per barrel.

As a result of the spending revision, Petrobras will produce less oil and gas next year, the company said, aiming for a daily average of 2.75 million barrels of oil equivalent. This is down from 2.84 million bpd this year. Related: EIA Sees WTI Crude Averaging $44 In 2021

However, going forward, production will increase, reaching 3.3 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2024. The boost will come from the pre-salt zone, which will also drive the company’s output this year. Petrobras said at the release of its third-quarter results in September that it had originally expected an output of 2.7 million bpd of oil equivalent for this year.

Crude oil production from the pre-salt fields marked a quarterly increase of 8.1 percent to 1.651 million bpd in the third quarter of this year, mainly due to higher operational efficiency of the platforms in the Búzios field and the ramp-up of production platforms in the Tupi and Atapu oilfields. Compared to the third quarter of 2019, Petrobras’ crude oil output in the pre-salt area jumped by 20.8 percent.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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Scammers fool Britons with investment firm clones, says trade body – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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LONDON (Reuters) – More than 200 British retail investors have lost nearly 10 million pounds ($13.4 million) in total to sophisticated investment scams since a government lockdown in March to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, a trade body said on Saturday.

Fraudsters cloned genuine investment management firms’ websites and documentation, and advertised fake products on sham price comparison websites and on social media, the Investment Association said.

Greater financial uncertainty and more time spent online have likely contributed to the increase in scams, industry sources say.

Losses amounted to 9.4 million pounds ($12.56 million) between March and mid-October, the IA said, based on information it got from member firms which had been cloned.

“In a year clouded in uncertainty, organised criminals have sought opportunity in misfortune by attempting to con investors out of their hard-earned savings,” Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association said.

The investment management industry was working closely with police and regulators to stop the scams, he added.

Britain’s Action Fraud warned earlier this month that total reported losses from all types of investment fraud came to 657 million pounds between September 2019 and September 2020, a rise of 28% from a year ago. Reports spiked between May and September, following Britain’s first national lockdown, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre added.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; ediitng by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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Ontario Increasing Investment in Video Surveillance Systems – Government of Ontario News

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Ontario Newsroom | Salle de presse de l’Ontario

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