B4E, the Business for Environment Global Summit, is the world's leading international conference for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment. The summit addresses the most urgent environmental challenges facing the world today. Important topics on the agenda include resource efficiency, renewable energies, new business models and climate policy and strategies. CEOs and senior executives join leaders from government, international agencies, NGOs and media to discuss environmental issues, forge partnerships and explore innovative solutions for a greener future.
Guy has been involved in the energy sector since 1984 working initially in the oil and gas industry as an exploration geologist for Amoco before joining the newly formed PowerGen in 1990. At PowerGen Guy worked initially in the UK core business before transferring to be part of the International expansion of developing conventional power stations in Portugal, Germany and Eastern Europe.
Pete is the Programme Director for Transport at the European Climate Foundation, where he has worked since 2011. Prior to that, he spent 10 years analysing and reporting on politics, business and markets for the international newswire Reuters. Since 2008, he has been living in Brussels, focusing on the European politics of climate and energy. He has published several books and papers on ecology, travel and communications.
Aled has 15 years’ experience in the development of regional sustainability policies and programmes in the UK and Europe. He started his career in local government working on the EU Structural Fund programme for West Wales and the Valleys before moving to the Wales office in Brussels as a policy adviser on regional and environmental policies. He returned to the UK to work for the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands on its low-carbon development projects.
This article was originally published on Asian Development Blog and is republished with permission.
To stay competitive, countries need to attract global talent. To do this, talent must be able to relocate when and where needed. Among other factors, global demographic and economic imbalances further strengthen the case for skills mobility including to facilitate the movement of professionals across countries where their skills are needed.
Skills mobility can be facilitated in a systematic way by implementing mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) with other countries. MRAs recognize foreign professional qualifications, which are not just educational. They also include aptitudes, knowledge and skills, all embodied in the competency level. MRAs can be established in general terms or by profession in line with a country’s needs as well as its skills development strategy.
But in ASEAN, full skills mobility through MRAs under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is still far from complete. Until countries express a stronger commitment and provide better ways to implement the agreements, ASEAN’s best and brightest will continue to seek jobs outside the ASEAN region. Notwithstanding the increasing intra-ASEAN skills mobility, ASEAN remains a net exporter of workers – including skilled ones. This trend must be reversed for ASEAN to stop the brain drain, remain globally competitive, and realize the full potential of the AEC.
A recent joint study by ADB and the Migration Policy Institute shows that countries can encourage skills mobility in three different ways:
The horizontal approach is widely adopted in the EU, where people are free to move anywhere, even without a job offer. This approach seems unrealistic for ASEAN and other parts of Asia due to significant disparities in demographic and economic development levels, which are reflected in labor supply and demand.
Some ASEAN countries, like the Philippines, still have a young population, while the population of others such as Singapore is already aging. This imbalance creates excess labor supply that cannot move freely across ASEAN countries. Accordingly, vertical MRAs or umbrella agreements are more suited to ASEAN and Asia in general.
These agreements are complex, however. Under vertical MRAs or umbrella agreements, a host country can unilaterally set different complementary measures for various countries in line with their education and training systems. For instance, some countries require different years of working experience to hire foreign nurses.
For the AEC to become a single market and production base (one of its main objectives), members must facilitate skill mobility. So far they have signed MRAs for the tourism sector and six regulated occupations (accountancy, architecture, dentistry, engineering, medicine and nursing), but implementation has been very slow and uneven due to lack of clarity over the fine print.
Deepening MRAs to include other professional groups and wider skill levels is also lacking, with no clear agenda on the table. Engineers and architects have moved ahead by creating ASEAN-wide credentials, and accountants will soon follow. Under the scheme approved for these groups, qualified professional members can register their qualifications to be recognized according to their competency levels within ASEAN, but this does not yet mean they can work freely across countries in ASEAN.
To progress further, there are three key lessons ASEAN can take from MRA implementation worldwide:
A good way forward for ASEAN would be to implement partial recognition with clear guidelines and compensatory mechanisms. This is in line with the increasing number of skill shortages that have been felt very strongly among the business community. More delays in MRA implementation due to complexities and opaqueness will only do further harm to business and economic growth.
By Jan Rocha
This article was originally published on Climate News Network and is republished with permission.
Drastic cuts to the environment ministry of Brazil and the approval of anti-environment laws will jeopardise the country’s fulfilment of the Paris Agreement targets.
SÃO PAULO, 20 April, 2017 – The Amazon rainforest, so vital to the world’s climate welfare, is said by environmental groups and scientists to be under severe attack from the Brazilian government, which is removing many safeguards to prevent deforestation.
The first shock was the cuts announced by President Michel Temer to the already limited budget of the environment ministry. These will “profoundly prejudice the monitoring of deforestation, and consequently, Brazil’s climate targets”, says Alfredo Sirkis, executive secretary of the FBMC, the National Climate Change Forum, a hybrid body set up in 2000 to bring together government planners and representatives of civil society to inform environmental legislation and raise public awareness.
Government cuts have been imposed on many ministries in order to reduce a growing deficit. Some will lose up to 30% of their budgets, but the environment ministry has been targeted for the biggest cut of all, losing a total of 53% from treasury funding and parliamentary allocations.
This is at a time when the need for environmental monitoring is more urgent than ever, according to green groups. Preliminary data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute, INPE, shows that the Amazon region saw a 29% increase in forest clearance last year.
The environment ministry’s enforcement agency, IBAMA (the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), relies on teams of inspectors on the ground to monitor not only the vast Amazon region, but all the other biomes that make up Brazil. These drastic spending cuts will weaken its capacity to carry out inspections, warns the Climate Observatory, an environment group.
As well as investigating and stopping illegal logging and burning operations over vast areas of forest, the ministry’s budget is spent on protecting 326 federal conservation units, which cover 76 million hectares, licensing infrastructure projects, and feeding thousands of animals saved from hunters, poachers and dam construction in rescue centres.
“The country, which likes to sell itself to the world as part of the solution of the climate crisis, has become a problem again”
While the ministry is being starved of the cash it needs to carry out its constitutional duties, the powerful landowners’ lobby in congress is pushing for a total relaxation of the environmental laws. Claiming the need to speed up the present lengthy process, they want the licensing process devolved to local authorities or even to the construction companies themselves. Critics warn that this could lead to local authorities competing to attract mining and other environmentally damaging projects by offering licensing-free deals.
If the rural producers’ lobby get their way, it would mean that road-building – known to be the main driver of deforestation – could go ahead with no regard for the environmental consequences. This could include the paving of controversial roadways such as the BR-319 (connecting the Amazon capital Manaus with the town of Porto Velho) and the BR-163 (connecting the Mato Grosso capital of Cuiabá with the Amazon river port of Santarém), both of which run through some of the most preserved areas of the Amazon rainforest. At the moment these roads are virtually impassable during the rainy season. Once paved, thousands of lorries will use them to carry the soy harvest north to river ports for shipping to Europe and the US.
Brazil climate targets
In a hard-hitting document, the Climate Observatory warns that the government and its parliamentary allies are promoting what may be the wors`t anti-environmental offensive since the 1980s. It states: “This puts at risk Brazil’s climate targets, besides the security of our entire society.”
Among the reversals of recent months, it lists the reduction in the size of several conservation units in the Amazon, the threat to indigenous reserves by the choice of a blatantly anti-indigenous Minister of Justice, Osmar Serraglio – who even questioned the Indians’ need for land – the privatisation of public lands and the end of environmental licensing.
The report concludes that Brazil risks rolling back its achievements of the last two decades in fighting deforestation, recognising indigenous lands and creating conservation units, and returning to the 1980s when it was viewed as “an international pariah” because of the accelerating clearing of the Amazon rainforest. It says: “The country, which likes to sell itself to the world as part of the solution of the climate crisis, has become a problem again.” – Climate News Network
By Brad Duncan
This article was originally published on Carbon Trust and is republished with permission.
How should businesses respond to the recommendations of the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures?
When it comes to climate change many businesses deserve credit. But they don’t necessarily deserve investment. Corporates have largely woken up to the challenge of climate change over the past two decades. They freely admit that it will affect their long-term interests. They collectively call for stronger government action. And they have made good progress in reducing their own emissions.
However, businesses are still systematically failing to properly report on how they will be affected by a warmer environment. In many cases this is because they themselves do not fully grasp impacts and implications. So although some companies do indeed deserve praise for taking a positive position on climate change issues, this does not always go hand-in-hand with a positive increase in value.
The problem is that few companies are currently providing specific details on their climate risks and opportunities, taking plausible positions supported by science. This lack of information harms the ability of investors, analysts, insurers and regulators to correctly determine prices and value assets. In turn, this undermines the efficiency of markets, creating the conditions for economic shocks over the longer term.
The task at hand
To address this challenge, the Financial Stability Board, an international body composed of central bankers and finance ministers from the G20 and European Commission convened the Task Force for Climate related Financial Disclosures. Chaired by Michael Bloomberg, a philanthropist, the task force has now released its initial recommendations, with a final version following consultation inputs expected by June 2017.
The development of these recommendations has been supported by a number of highly influential organisations. These include some of the world’s biggest companies and investors, such as JPMorgan, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Tata Steel, Dow Chemical, BHP Billiton and Aviva Investors. It also includes the Big Four accounting firms, as well as the credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.
At the heart of the recommendations is the guidance that businesses should provide a much clearer picture of the risks they face from climate change, as well as their opportunities they could seize in the shift to a sustainable, low carbon economy.
The view from the task force is that in most advanced economies this is already a legal requirement under existing disclosure rules, where companies should report on all material opportunities and risks. It is just seen as something that is currently being done badly.
Institutional investors that consider longer time horizons – such as pension funds, insurers and asset managers – have been the strongest advocates for improving disclosure to date. Many of them now also consider themselves bound to take into account environmental factors as a part of their broader fiduciary or regulatory duties, as they will impact performance and returns.
These institutions are putting increasing pressure on companies to improve disclose. For example, Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager with over US$5tn under management, has made climate change one of its top engagement priorities with company leaders over the coming year. What all this means is that it is no longer enough to just write platitudes about recognising the challenge of climate change. Nor is it sufficient to simply improve operational efficiency and reduce emissions, without fully taking into account the impacts of the transition to a sustainable, low carbon economy.
Reporting needs to be in the language investors would expect to see, providing verifiable data based on commonly-used metrics, alongside a clear narrative of risks and opportunities. This will enable them to assess a company’s performance and prospects, comparing it against competitors in the marketplace. To do this, businesses will need to learn how to properly assess their value-at-stake. This involves working through plausible climate change scenarios, taking into account factors such as the impact of regulatory change and carbon pricing across key geographies, alongside concurrent technology breakthroughs and shifts in consumer behaviour. It is also very important to consider the physical impacts of climate change, such as the operational and supply chain disruptions that may occur from more frequent incidents of drought and flooding.
A variable forecast
Of course predicting the future is challenging. Small differences in assumptions today can create huge gaps in expectations a few years down the line. The oil majors have been pioneers in the art of scenario planning, but still come to wildly different conclusions from one another. Shell projects that global oil demand could peak within the next decade, whereas Exxon expects continued growth through to 2040.
But over time scenarios are likely to become increasingly standardised. This will occur through a combination of better science, clearer technology pathways and greater climate policy certainly. Helpfully, there is now a growing list of highly authoritative sources which can be used to help companies make meaningful assessments. These include assessment reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and energy transition scenarios from the International Energy Agency.
These landmark reports are already being used to help companies set their own science-based targets compatible with maintaining global warming below 2 degrees. Assumptions can also be based on the nationally determined contributions submitted by individual countries as part of the Paris Agreement.
Contextual information will sometimes need to be presented alongside detailed, primary data collected from within a business, to reveal the specific extent to which companies are exposed to wider risks and opportunities. However, in other cases the key requirement will be demonstrating sound judgement in understanding where simple estimated data could be sufficient, or excluding areas that are not materially relevant.
The important thing with disclosures is not to come to the same conclusions as everyone else. After all, everyone will be implementing different strategies to outperform their competitors. But companies do need to stand on some common ground when going through the exercise of assessing their climate-related risks and opportunities. Then, so long as they are transparent about the assumptions they used, others will be able to independently judge their credibility.
At the same time, companies need to outline how they will respond to these risks and opportunities. This will include integrating them into their overall strategy, governance mechanisms, risk management processes, and broader metrics and targets. This improved reporting is not a matter of advocating one particular course of action on climate change. Investors will make their own assessment of what is likely to happen with climate change, looking at how this will affect the value of markets and companies. As Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg said in a joint article about the launch of the draft recommendations, “the right information will allow optimists and pessimists, sceptics and evangelists, to back their convictions with their capital.” But without the right information they run a serious risk of getting things wrong, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Equally as importantly, companies also need to use this process as an opportunity to ensure that their boards and senior management are properly informed about the potential impact of climate change on the business. Making disclosures should not be seen as an end in itself, but a fundamental part of setting an effective strategy for long-term success.
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