06 January 2010

Investment risks, climate threat to economic growth, and other company, industry and government news

Top Stories

New Report: Investment Managers Still Lagging in Response to Climate Change Risks and Opportunities.reliability high.
"The vast majority of the world's largest investment managers are not factoring climate-related trends into their short- and long-term investment decision-making, the result being significant 'hidden risks' in the trillions of dollars of investment portfolios they are managing. This is the key conclusion of a new Ceres report released today that surveyed leading assets managers in 2009 on their responses to the increasing business risks and investment opportunities associated with climate change." Highlights of report. From Ceres. PDF of full report here.

Climate Change May Increase Income Inequality.reliability medium.
"In a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association, Ben Olken of MIT and Ben Jones of Northwestern University make an important discovery: In poor countries, a temperature increase of only one degree Celsius reduces annual export growth by as much as 5.7 percentage points. The decline occurs in a wide variety of products, ranging from footwear to firearms. In rich countries, by contrast, Messrs. Olken and Jones find no effect. . . . Finding an explanation is 'an important area for further research,' says Mr. Olken." See Wall Street Journal Real Time Economics blog. PDF of paper here. [According to the paper, "While the negative impact on agricultural exports is consistent with the primary thrust of the climate-economy literature, the negative impact on manufacturing may be more surprising. It is, however, consistent with a long-standing literature emphasizing that factory workers are less productive when it is hot." Work this into your strategic planning?]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

First eco home insurance launched.reliability high.
UK chain Marks & Spencer will offer home insurance policies that will encourage policy holders to replace broken or stolen items with A rate energy efficiency ones. "'Sustainable reinstatement of kitchen appliances' as M&S has branded it will mean when a customer makes a claim for a fridge freezer, refrigerator, washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher, they will be offered a replacement which is A rated for energy-efficiency. . . . Its deal, offered through AXA Insurance, will also offer the opportunity to rebuild a home, if needed, through a 'sustainable total rebuild.'" From edie.net.

GM and OnStar launch sophisticated mobile app for Volt.reliability medium.
Engineers [at GM's OnStar/EV lab] have been working on how they can utilize available communications technology to save fuel, and the first public result is a new mobile phone application that is being announced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. Includes more details, screen shots and press release. See Autoblog Green.

BevMo! to Save $1M a Year After Lighting Retrofit.reliability high.
"BevMo!, a West Coast beverage retailer, expects to save $1 million a year across 90 locations after completing a lighting retrofit." It "replaced thousands of 250 watt magnetic HID fixtures with 150 watt EHID fixtures, which are able to maintain the same lighting saturation at a lower energy point. Metrolight and West-Lite Supply Co. handled the retrofit." It cut its lighting maintenance costs and energy use by more than half. "The retailer also was able to take advantage of $300,000 in utility rebates, according to a press release." See Environmental Leader.

Think Electric Car to Be Built in Indiana.reliability medium.
After months of negotiations Norwegian electric carmaker Think has chosen Elkhart, Indiana, for its U.S. plant. "Think production in northern Indiana will begin in the first quarter of 2011, but Mr. Canny said that the company will begin North American distribution with some cars imported from its European operations later this year. Think will invest $43 million in the Elkhart plant, which will have capacity to produce more than 20,000 cars annually. That volume might be reached in 2013, Mr. Canny said." From New York Times Wheels blog.

Government and Regulation

China extends vehicle scrappage scheme, increases maximum bonus.reliability medium.
"China has announced the extension of the country's vehicle scrappage scheme for 2010. Motorists will be able to trade in cars that are considered "highly pollutant" and receive a state subsidy worth between 5,000 yuan (about $730) and 18,000 yuan ($2,600), which is a significant increase over last year's maximum of 6,000 yuan. . . . The plan was allocated 5 billion yuan this year, compared to 1 billion last year." From Autoblog Green. [Like the "cash for clunkers" program in the U.S., this "green" scheme is mainly designed to give the domestic auto industry a sales boost.]

Mexico vows to set new efficiency rules for autos.reliability high.
Mexico will restrict import of older autos, partly to protect domestic car industry and partly to accelerate reduction of emissions by putting newer more efficient cars on the road. "The ministry said it was also mulling regulations that would for the first time set a national standard for auto emissions. Such standards would be at the 'vanguard' of international best standards, the agency said." See Reuters.

Speculation over change in role for Chinese climate negotiator.reliability high.
"A senior member of the Chinese negotiating team at Copenhagen has been shifted from his post, prompting speculation that he has been punished for the debacle of the climate talks." "Privately . . . officials are furious at the public relations disaster of the summit, which ended with Europe blaming China for sinking long-term goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions." He Yafei was China's Vice Minister for foreign affairs and a lead negotiator at Copenhagen. He has been moved from that post to one working with the UN, it is said. From The Guardian.

[Crossposted from HaraBara.com courtesy of HaraBara, Inc. Copyright © 2010 HaraBara, Inc.]