Tak­ing cli­mate own­er­ship

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Ag Life -

You don’t have to be­lieve in cli­mate change, just in mak­ing more money.

That’s the con­clu­sion I drew from at­tend­ing a 2018 Manag­ing Cli­mate Risk in Agri­cul­ture con­fer­ence last week in Beech­worth.

It struck me, at least anec­do­tally, that many more farm­ers no longer ques­tion the sci­ence. In fact, the gen­eral hub­bub around the room when one brave farmer ac­cused the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment of a lack of cli­mate-change pol­icy was that most were in fu­ri­ous agree­ment with him.

So, is the sky fall­ing with many of our gov­ern­ment min­is­ters in Can­berra be­ing cli­mate-change de­niers?

Don’t panic. They’ll change. At least that’s ac­cord­ing to lawyer and con­fer­ence key­note speaker, Sarah Barker who is a Spe­cial Coun­sel, Cli­mate Change Risk with in­ter­na­tional law firm Min­ter El­li­son.

“I’m a rav­ing cap­i­tal­ist and at the end of the day the mar­ket has the fi­nal word on ev­ery­thing,” she said.

“You can make as many ide­o­log­i­cal noises as you wish on either side of the fence, but at the end of the day if the mar­ket has de­ter­mined that some­thing is a fi­nan­cial risk, if the mar­ket has de­ter­mined that it is cheaper and eas­ier to be sourc­ing power from so­lar, wind and bat­ter­ies, than it is for coal-fired power, that’s the end of the de­bate.”

And she claimed all lev­els of gov­ern­ment were ex­posed. When Mother Na­ture turned nasty and peo­ple lost their homes, their liveli­hood, their lux­u­ries, they wanted some­one to blame and to pay. Ms Barker said it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore gov­ern­ments were sued.

“We’re see­ing across the world, a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in cli­mate lit­i­ga­tion driven by peo­ple start­ing to see fi­nan­cial losses as­so­ci­ated with cli­mate change,” she said.

“Cou­ple that gap be­tween pri­vate-prop­erty dam­age and what in­sur­ance will cover, peo­ple are out of pocket. So, they look to state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment in terms of, what in­for­ma­tion were you giv­ing us? What pro­grams were you putting in place to pro­tect our prop­erty?

“They – gov­ern­ments – are ex­pos­ing them­selves to a much higher fu­ture li­a­bil­ity by hav­ing failed to per­form their own obli­ga­tions in a man­ner that isn’t neg­li­gent.”

It’s al­ready hap­pen­ing to large cor­po­ra­tions. Last week a claim was made against oil gi­ant Exxon Mo­bil in the United States for se­cu­rity fraud al­leg­ing mis­lead­ing dis­clo­sure in its an­nual re­port – very sim­i­lar to claims that have been made in Aus­tralia.

“A claim was filed against the Com­mon­wealth Bank last year in re­la­tion to mis­lead­ing dis­clo­sure of cli­mate risk in its 2016 an­nual re­port,” Ms Barker said.

“That was with­drawn af­ter a num­ber of weeks. But we’ve now also seen a sub­se­quent case against one of Aus­tralia’s large su­per­an­nu­a­tion funds on sim­i­lar grounds.

“It in­volved a ben­e­fi­ciary who was seek­ing in­for­ma­tion from the fund about how it fac­tors cli­mate risk into anal­y­sis of how his and ev­ery­one’s money should be in­vested.

“He couldn’t get that in­for­ma­tion from the fund and has now ex­panded the claim to al­lege the trustee had it­self failed to ex­er­cise due care and dili­gence in in­te­grat­ing cli­mate risk into its in­vest­ment process.”

It has also been re­vealed the num­ber-one con­cern in our cor­po­rate board­rooms is cli­mate change. While gov­ern­ments pro­cras­ti­nate, the rest of Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing our farm­ers, are deal­ing with the prob­lem.

DRY: Farm­ers are in­creas­ingly wor­ried about the ef­fects of cli­mate change.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.