US shareholder pressure on climate risks

A significant increase in the number of shareholder resolutions at annual meetings has been reported here.  It’s noteworthy that among these resolutions are some of the largest US pension funds.  It’s long been the case that pension funds (in Australia, superfunds) with vast funds at their disposal for investment, are exposed to unrecognised and unquantified climate risks.  It’s only recently that they have turned this exercise, although insurance companies like Munich Re have been doing it for at least a decade, and in some areas have lead the development of risk techniques to analyse the extensive ramifications of climate risk.  It is difficult work, because the climate systems are so large and volatile and complex, but it has to be done, and built into the valuation models that funds use to determine the best investment opportunities.  It now seems that this is going to be driven strongly by shareholder activism, as reported here.

Japanese insurance companies in community-based environmental scheme

Here is an interesting story concerning two Japanese insurance companies, Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. and Nipponkoa Insurance Co., which are building sustainability initiatives into their core business.  Under their new offering, it is possible for customers to select an insurance options which trigger contributions from the insurance companies to fund community-based, participatory actions in biodiversity preservation and environmental improvement.  While clearly a marketing initiative, directed at the emerging demand in post-Fukushima Japan for environmentally-responsible action, the companies seem to be putting their money behind it, and to be working through responsible environmental agencies.  The program has the potential to strengthen community action in environmental improvement at the local level.

Re-greening approaches to farming in Africa through trees

Here is an account of an indigenous approach to sustainable farming in West Africa.  It seems to have emerged on farms there spontaneously, and to have spread by word of mouth.  The centre of the approach is a recognition of the value of protecting and promoting young trees by farmers on their own land.  The documented benefits flow both to the farm–shade, shelter, leaf litter and organic matter, water conservation, and so on–and to the global environment, by building a significant carbon sink.  As this article notes, the initiative can be scaled up, and the learning being accumulated by these African farmers can be communicated with other farmers throughout the world–a welcome flow of expertise from African farmers.