Weekly wrap: Investors close in on polluting companies

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Top Chinese bank ICBC plans to screen loans for environmental risk Wikimedia Commons/RudolfSimon)

Top Chinese bank ICBC plans to screen loans for environmental risk (Wikimedia Commons/RudolfSimon)

By Megan Darby

Polluting companies have ever fewer places to hide, after some big calls from regulators and banks this week.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country’s largest with US$3.6 trillion of assets, revealed plans to screen loans for environmental risk.

In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron to let shareholders vote on a climate risk resolution.

And Mark Carney, Bank of England governor and chair of the Financial Stability Board, told bankers green finance would be a priority for the next G20 meeting.

Quote of the week

“Appropriate authorities will determine if the company violated any laws, but as a matter of good governance, we cannot be associated with a company exhibiting such apparent contempt for the public interest” – The Rockefeller Foundation on why it is selling its stake in Exxon Mobil

I was in Germany last week, thanks to the good people at Clean Energy Wire, worth following for all things Energiewende.

Government ministers were full of the joys of renewables, but curiously silent on dirty old lignite, still the source of 25% of the country’s electricity.

While a coal phase-out may be taboo, the market anticipates political intervention. Vattenfall is trying to sell its lignite interests, but finding them more of a liability than an asset.

In Lusatia, where lignite is the biggest industry, resistance is giving way to resignation. Can it show the way to a post-coal economy?

Pershing the agenda

Todd Stern, US climate envoy and lead architect of the Paris deal, leaves his post on 1 April.

He hands over to Jonathan Pershing, a bearded veteran of the process. Negotiating with him, writes Ed King, is like being at the wrong end of a Formula 1 wind tunnel.

Number of the week

13 million – the number of US citizens who would be forced to leave their homes if sea levels rise 1.8 metres, the higher end of predictions for this century

What the dickens?

Climate science celebrity James Hansen’s latest paper has sparked fierce debate for all sorts of reasons. It’s headline-grabbing scenario of rapid ice sheet collapse is actually very unlikely, experts say – although not to be dismissed altogether.

But it was his use of the phrase “the dickens”, a Shakespearean euphemism for the devil, that really annoyed reviewer Peter Thorne. Find out why.

Weather watch

The extreme weather of 2015 was a taste of things to come, the World Meteorological Organization declared in its annual report.

That’s why improving climate services for poor farmers is a priority, chief Petteri Taalas told Climate Home’s Alex Pashley.

Around the world
Bangladesh: Loaded coal barge sinks in Sundarbans mangroves
Pakistan: Government unveils plan to tackle looming water crisis
UK: Brexit threatens energy security, says minister
Marshall Islands: Third Pacific state ready to ratify Paris agreement

Read more on: Breaking News