Facebook suspends environmental groups despite vow to fight misinformation

Facebook has suspended the accounts of several environmental organizations less than a week after launching an initiative it said would counter a tide of misinformation over climate science on the platform.

Groups such as Greenpeace USA, Climate Hawks Vote and Rainforest Action Network were among those blocked from posting or sending messages on Facebook over the weekend. Activists say hundreds of other individual accounts linked to indigenous, climate and social justice groups were also suspended for an alleged “intellectual property rights violation”.

The suspended people and groups were all involved in a Facebook event from May last year that targeted KKR & Co, a US investment firm that is backing the Coastal GasLink pipeline, a 670km-long gas development being built in northern British Columbia, Canada.

The suspensions, the day before another online action aimed at KKR & Co, has enraged activists who oppose the pipeline for its climate impact and for cutting through the land of the Wetʼsuwetʼen, a First Nations people.

“Videos of extreme violence, alt-right views and calls for violence by militias in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are allowed to persist on Facebook,” said Delee Nikal, a Wet’suwet’en community member. “Yet we are banned and receive threats for permanent removal, for posting an online petition.”

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'Bonkers': Turnbull criticises Angus Taylor's $18bn bet on emissions technology

Angus Taylor says the Morrison government will develop an emissions reduction target for 2035, but likely not reveal it before the next federal election, and says his working definition of low-emissions technology is “what will move the dial”.

The energy minister on Tuesday launched the first annual statement under the government’s technology roadmap, which is the Coalition’s new policy framework for long-term emissions reduction.

The minister characterised the government’s approach, which prioritises taxpayer investments in particular technologies, with funding of $18bn over a decade, as betting on the future. “The nature of R&D portfolios is that you have to place bets. We’re placing a bet on a portfolio here.”

The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was scathing about the approach of his former colleagues, describing government intervention as a substitute for a market mechanism, and the Coalition’s much-vaunted gas-led recovery, as “crazy” and “mad ideology” and “bonkers”.

Turnbull told the ABC the Liberals did not generally favour market intervention as a policy approach, and he said “a green new deal, renewable-led economic stimulus, would be much more effective than focusing on what is a very expensive fuel in gas”.

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Ron Howard: 'I'm introverted and risk-averse. But not when there's a story to be told'

While some celebrities spent lockdown in their Malibu beach houses or Beverly Hills compounds, Ron Howard – one of the most powerful and prolific men in Hollywood – spent the first two weeks sleeping in his editing office near his home in Connecticut. The image of Howard living in his workplace fits so well with his public image that it sounds almost storyboarded: the hardworking, humble guy who happens to be an Oscar-winning director (of 2001’s A Beautiful Mind; he was also nominated for Frost/Nixon in 2009. His mother thought, rightly, that he should also have been nominated for 1995’s Apollo 13). Yet Howard’s work-based isolation was not just for professional purposes, but personal ones, too: his wife of 45 years, Cheryl, was sick with Covid-19. He needed to isolate from her, but he wanted to stay close by.

“She had it only mildly, thank God, and so did my daughter Paige, but they were real cases. So I lived in the editing room. When Cheryl felt better, the two of us would go on what I called Victorian courting strolls, staying 10ft away from each other and no touching,” Howard says with a chuckle.

We are talking over video chat. Howard, 66, is back in the family home, which, from the little I can see, looks lovely; impressive, but not showy. “Yes, as gilded hamster cages with velvet wheels go, this one’s not bad,” he says. He is wearing one of his signature baseball caps; peeking out is his even more signature red hair, now a little paler than it was when he played Richie Cunningham on Happy Days. Does he mind that annoying people (ie me) still bring up the show, 45 years after it first screened?

Anson Williams, Don Most, Henry Winkler and Ron Howard in Happy Days, which Howard starred in from 1974 to 1980. Photograph: Alamy

“Not any more!” he replies in his affable chatty way. “There was a time when I felt a little threatened by that. But, in recent years, I’ve come to appreciate my unique place in pop culture.”

He has carved out this place at least partly through his workaholism. If Steven Spielberg is the father of modern mainstream US cinema, Howard is its beloved uncle. Between his directing career – which spans 80s comedies (Splash, Cocoon, Parenthood), 90s dramas (Backdraft, Apollo 13) and blockbusters (The Da Vinci Code, Solo: A Star Wars Story) – his production company, Imagine Entertainment (8 Mile, My Girl, Bowfinger), and his lifelong acting career (The Music Man, Happy Days, Arrested Development), Howard’s IMDb page rivals in length the works of Dickens. He has said he needs only four days’ rest after finishing a film before he is ready to start the next. So how did he cope with a six-month lockdown?

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Morrison's rejection of 2050 net zero emissions target is at odds with Paris agreement, experts say

The Morrison government’s rejection of a net zero emissions target for 2050 is at odds with the Paris agreement and more than 100 countries that have backed the goal, according to some of Australia’s most experienced climate experts.

Scott Morrison told the ABC on Sunday that the government’s position was to reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions “in the second half of the century, and we’ll certainly achieve that”.

Asked why he would not commit to the 2050 goal, which has been backed by business, farming, union and environment groups and every state and territory, the prime minister said “because I’m more interested in the doing”.

Erwin Jackson, policy director at the Investor Group on Climate Change and an observer at international climate conferences since the 1990s, said it was “very clear” that by ratifying the Paris agreement Australia had agreed global heating should be limited to between 1.5C and 2C above pre-industrial levels, and commitments should be informed by the latest science.

He said countries in Paris including Australia had specifically asked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to examine what 1.5C of heating would mean, and what needed to be done to avoid it.

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Rising temperatures shrink Arctic sea ice to second-lowest level on record

Rising temperatures in the Arctic shrank the ice covering the polar ocean this year to its second-lowest extent in four decades, scientists have announced, in yet another sign of how the climate crisis is rapidly transforming the region.

Satellites recorded this year’s sea ice minimum at 3.74m sq km on 15 September, only the second time the ice has been measured below 4m sq km in 40 years of record keeping, said researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

“It’s fairly devastating that we’ve had such consistently low sea ice. But unfortunately, it’s not surprising,” said Twila Moon, a glaciologist at the research center in Boulder, Colorado.

The record low of 3.41m sq km, reached in 2012 after a late-season cyclonic storm broke up the remaining ice, is not much below what researchers see today.

This year’s decline was especially fast between 31 August and 5 September, thanks to pulses of warm air coming off a heatwave in Siberia, according to the NSIDC. The rate of ice loss during those six days was faster than during any other year on record. Another team of scientists found in July that the Siberian heatwave would have been all but impossible without human-caused climate change.

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Israel fish deaths linked to rapid warming of seas

High temperatures and the persistent warming of oceans have triggered profound changes in marine ecosystems, but a new study suggests that the rate of onset of warming – rather than the peak – could also play a key role in the damage fuelled by climate change.

In early July 2017, researchers were drawn to the coast of Eilat, Israel, following sightings of fish carcasses, a rare occurrence in the region’s coral reefs.

“The fish were absolutely fresh … their gills were still red,” said the lead author, Amatzia Genin of the Interuniversity Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat.

Soon after, a citizen-science campaign was initiated and by early September, 427 carcasses belonging to at least 42 species were collected. Necropsies were performed on 14 freshly dead and moribund fish from eight different species. In 13 cases, severe infection directly caused by a pathogenic bacterium, Streptococcus iniae, was observed.

Although this pathogen is ubiquitous in fish in warm waters, a healthy immune system usually prevents debilitating infections. So, what caused the mass casualties?

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Prince Charles calls for 'Marshall-like plan' to combat climate crisis

Prince Charles has called for the world to put itself on a “warlike footing” to tackle the “comprehensive catastrophe” caused by the climate crisis and the loss of nature.

The threat posed by global heating and the degradation of biodiversity will “dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic”, the Prince of Wales said.

“At this late stage I can see no other way forward but to call for a Marshall-like plan for nature, people and the planet,” he added, in reference to the massive US-backed programme to rebuild a shattered Europe after the second world war.

“We must now put ourselves on a warlike footing, approaching our action from the perspective of a military-style campaign,” said Charles, warning that the world had been “pushed beyond its planetary boundaries”, only for the crisis to long be “decried, denigrated and denied” by those in power.

The heir to the British throne called upon business leaders and governments to articulate clear strategies to eliminate planet-heating emissions, remove “perverse” subsidies from polluting industries and restore the natural world.

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Airbus reveals plans for zero-emission aircraft fuelled by hydrogen

Airbus has announced plans for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft models that run on hydrogen and could take to the skies by 2035.

The European aersospace company revealed three different aircraft concepts that would be put through their paces to find the most efficient way to travel long distances by plane without producing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global heating.

UK holidaymakers and business travellers could fly from London to the Canary Islands, Athens or eastern Europe without producing carbon emissions, should the plans become a commercial reality.

Guillaume Faury, the Airbus chief executive, said the “historic moment for the commercial aviation sector” marks the “most important transition this industry has ever seen”.

“The concepts we unveil today offer the world a glimpse of our ambition to drive a bold vision for the future of zero-emission flight. I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen – both in synthetic fuels and as a primary power source for commercial aircraft – has the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact,” he said.

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UK plan to use all-male team to host UN climate summit angers observers

The UK is fielding an all-male team to host a vital UN climate summit next year, flouting international norms and angering activists and observers, who say the lack of gender balance imperils progress on key issues.

All of the politicians who will host the Cop26 talks for the UK in Glasgow are men, from the business secretary Alok Sharma, who will act as president of the summit, to his team of climate and energy ministers – Lord Callanan, Zac Goldsmith and Kwasi Kwarteng – who have represented the UK in recent online meetings.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, and the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, will also take prominent roles in the conference, set for November 2021 after it was postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis. At Cop26, countries must come up with strengthened commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, if the goals of the landmark Paris agreement of 2015 are to be fulfilled.

The former governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney leads on finance issues as UN envoy, and Nigel Topping, the government’s high-level climate action champion, is charged with bringing businesses onboard.

The leading negotiators and civil servants also form an all-male lineup, including the chair of the talks, Peter Hill, the lead negotiator, Archie Young, the envoy John Murton, and the Foreign Office official Nick Bridge.

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Five ways to make the climate movement less white

Family stories about tedious days out picking vegetables or managing herds of cattle always left me with a sense of pride. As the granddaughter of Colorado ranchers and farmworkers, I have a great appreciation for the hard labor involved in food production and agriculture – and the ways it connects my family to the natural world.

My family has already been deeply impacted by climate change and their experiences mirror countless other agricultural workers across the US. Yet so many young people who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) are poorly represented in environmental decision-making. I myself have sometimes felt like there were only certain ways to participate in environmental activism, that not only excluded me, but also devalued my lived experience.

As part of the team of first-time voters who are guest editing the Guardian’s climate coverage today, we want to highlight ways to build a more inclusive environmental movement, and we’ve interviewed five experts below.

One reason it’s so important to include BIPOC communities in the conversation is that we have unique solutions, drawn from centuries of working the land. Acequias, for example are communally managed systems of ditches used in the American south-west to irrigate fields – and offset water scarcity caused by the climate crisis. – Sofia Romero Campbell

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

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Welsh seagrass meadow sows hope for global restoration

Seagrass is a wonder plant but unrecognised and sorely neglected. This is a flowering plant with long ribbon-like leaves that often grows in the sea in lush underwater meadows.

It is an unsung hero in the fight to clean up carbon dioxide and the climate emergency. Its credentials are astonishing: it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, stores 10% of the annual ocean carbon storage across the globe and locks up that carbon in sediments that can stay out of harm’s way for millennia.

Seagrass also gives sanctuary to many marine wildlife and provides a nursery for 20% of fish species used by world fisheries. It protects coasts from erosion by absorbing wave energy, produces oxygen and helps clean the sea by absorbing polluting nutrients washed off the land.

Seagrass is in sharp decline across the globe and has almost disappeared from Britain’s coast over the past 100 years, owing to developments of coastlines, pollution in the sea and damage from boats.

But this year a restoration project got under way in Pembrokeshire, planting 1m seagrass seeds on the seabed at Dale Bay to create a 20,000 square-metre meadow.

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Most plastic will never be recycled – and the manufacturers couldn’t care less | Arwa Mahdawi

Plastic recycling is a scam. You diligently sort your rubbish, you dutifully wash your plastic containers, then everything gets tossed in a landfill or thrown in the ocean anyway. OK, maybe not everything – but the vast majority of it. According to one analysis, only 9% of all plastic ever made has likely been recycled. Here’s the kicker: the companies making all that plastic have spent millions on advertising campaigns lecturing us about recycling while knowing full well that most plastic will never be recycled.

A new investigation by National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reports that the large oil and gas companies that manufacture plastics have known for decades that recycling plastic was unlikely to ever happen on a broad scale because of the high costs involved. “They were not interested in putting any real money or effort into recycling because they wanted to sell virgin material,” Larry Thomas, former president of one of the plastic industry’s most powerful trade groups, told NPR. There is a lot more money to be made in selling new plastic than reusing the old stuff. But, in order to keep selling new plastic, the industry had to clean up its wasteful image. “If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Thomas noted. And so a huge amount of resources were diverted into intricate “sustainability theatre”.

Multinationals misleading people for profit? Hold the front page! While the plastics industry’s greenwashing will come as no surprise to anyone, the extent of the deception alleged in NPR’s investigation is truly shocking. (I should state for the record that an industry representative interviewed by NPR contested the idea that the public was intentionally misled, although he does “understand the scepticism”.)

The subterfuge around recycling plastic is also an important reminder of just how cynically and successfully big companies have shifted the burden of combating the climate crisis on to individuals. This might be best encapsulated in a famous ad campaign that aired in the US during the 1970s with the slogan “People Start Pollution. People can stop it.” The campaign was created by a non-profit group called Keep America Beautiful, which happened to be heavily funded by beverage and packaging companies with a vested interest in convincing people that they were the ones to blame for a polluted planet, not capitalism.

Perhaps one of the most effective bits of propaganda that big business has come up with to shift the burden of combating the climate crisis on to individuals is the idea of the “carbon footprint”. BP popularised the term in the early noughties, in what has been called one of the most “successful, deceptive PR campaigns maybe ever”. While oil companies were telling us to fret about our carbon usage they were doing whatever the hell they liked: 20 fossil fuel companies can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, an analysis by leading climate researchers found last year. Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell are behind more than 10% of the world’s climate emissions since 1965 – but we have been successfully convinced that people start pollution and people can stop it. That if we just fly less and recycle more the planet will be OK. To some degree that is right: there must be a level of personal responsibility when it comes to the climate emergency. We all have to do our part. But individual action is a tiny drop in a heavily polluted ocean; we need systemic change to make a real difference. And, more than anything, we need to change what we value. What frustrates me most about BP’s “carbon footprint” propaganda is how clever it is. There is so much human ingenuity in the world, but it is all directed towards the wrong things.

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World fails to meet a single target to stop destruction of nature – UN report

The world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade, according to a devastating new report from the UN on the state of nature.

From tackling pollution to protecting coral reefs, the international community did not fully achieve any of the 20 Aichi biodiversity targets agreed in Japan in 2010 to slow the loss of the natural world. It is the second consecutive decade that governments have failed to meet targets.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, published before a key UN summit on the issue later this month, found that despite progress in some areas, natural habitats have continued to disappear, vast numbers of species remain threatened by extinction from human activities, and $500bn (£388bn) of environmentally damaging government subsidies have not been eliminated.

Six targets have been partially achieved, including those on protected areas and invasive species. While governments did not manage to protect 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of marine habitats, 44% of vital biodiverse areas are now under protection, an increase from 29% in 2000. About 200 successful eradications of invasive species on islands have also taken place.

The UN said the natural world was deteriorating and failure to act could undermine the goals of the Paris agreement on the climate crisis and the sustainable development goals.

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Drought, plague, fire: the apocalypse feels nigh. Yet we have tools to stop it | Art Cullen

As the west coast burns into an orange hellscape you have to wonder if those preaching the end of time aren’t on to something. The people smart enough to make a cellphone have been warning that we have no more than a decade to tamp down the climate crisis. Other wise men and women think we don’t even have that much time. We should listen.

People have been preaching the end of time since the beginning of time. The whole story got laid down in the Book of Revelation. Being raised Catholic, we did not read the Bible that much and were casually advised by the nuns to not wade too deep in that chapter. Concentrate on Love Thy Neighbor because Ye Shall Not Know the Hour or Day.

I heard about pestilence and plague, drought and disaster, epic conflict between good and evil, something about an antichrist, and that this will lead us to make a choice.

So far, my choice has been to drive an electric car, and enthuse about wind turbines plugged into a smart grid that does not exist but could in five years. I have my eye out for the antichrist in the meantime.

Monsignor Ivis warned us in the 1960s that the good folks who fled the midwest would be coming back to lay in a few goats in South Dakota once California succumbed to fire and fell into the ocean. What was he reading back then?

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Young climate activists start own climate talks after Cop26 delay

Young climate activists have begun a parallel process to the UN climate crisis talks, in frustration at the lack of progress they perceive in world governments’ efforts to address the emergency.

Crunch negotiations aimed at fulfilling the Paris climate agreement, called Cop26, were to be hosted by the UK this November, but have been delayed by the coronavirus crisis. Activists, participants and observers have told the Guardian they are concerned at a lack of progress so far.

The UK government has said little in public since the launch in February, before widespread lockdowns hit, other than to agree a postponement with the UN. The rescheduled Cop26 will take place next November, but the hosts face an uphill struggle to bring countries grappling with the Covid crisis to agree stiffer targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

While public progress on the postponed Cop26 has been meagre, young activists in Fridays for Future, the movement sparked by Greta Thunberg’s school strikes, are pushing ahead with their own online event this November, called Mock Cop26.

They are inviting young people to “fill the void of the postponed Cop26 with a big, inclusive online Mock Cop”. The event will be run by young climate activists, aiming to get between three and five delegates from as many countries as possible, with a focus on the global south – to contrast with what they see as the dominance of developed countries in the UN negotiations.

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'I don't think science knows': Trump denies climate change link to wildfires – video

The US president is urged to recognise the changing climate and what it means to forests, during a briefing on the wildfires in California on Monday. Trump interrupts an official, Wade Crowfoot, the secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency, to argue the climate 'will start getting cooler, you just watch'. Crowfoot responds: 'I wish science agreed with you.' To which Trump retorts: 'I don’t think science knows actually'

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'People thought I was too young to protest': the rise of student activism

In June, Simukai Chigudu stepped up on a plinth in front of thousands of people blocking the streets outside Oriel College in Oxford. The associate professor of African politics addressed the crowds inspired by Black Lives Matter and the anti-racism protests sweeping across the UK and around the world, catalysed by the killing of yet another black man at the hands of police in the US.

Chigudu told the crowds that, yes, he was angry – how could he not be? He is one of just an estimated seven black professors employed by the University of Oxford, an institution that has faced years of questioning over diversity and its treatment of students and staff of colour.

As a postgraduate student five years ago, he was one of the founding members of Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford, a major student-led protest arguing for the decolonisation of Oxford and calling for the removal of the statue of Victorian imperialist Cecil Rhodes, which stands outside Oriel College.

In early June, the world watched as protesters in Bristol knocked down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston. The energy spread to Oxford, sparking a resurgence of the campaign to bring down Rhodes.

“When I stood up to speak and I was surveying the crowd, I could see the different eyes being cast on me. I saw a lot of people who didn’t have much to do with the university. It felt like there was this convergence of people, that an anti-racism project has to be far-reaching,” he says.

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Facebook and Google announce plans to become carbon neutral

Facebook and Google are becoming carbon neutral businesses, joining competitors Apple and Microsoft in committing to put no excess carbon into the atmosphere, both companies have independently announced.

But the details of the two companies’ ambitions differs greatly. At Google, which first committed to going carbon neutral in 2007, the announcement sees the company declaring success in retroactively offsetting all carbon it has ever emitted, since its foundation in 1998. It has also committed to being powered exclusively by renewable energy by 2030.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is: in 2017, Google became a “net-zero” company, buying renewable energy to match its energy usage, but was unable to fully commit to eliminating carbon-emitting generation entirely.

It’s that latter target that Facebook says it will now meet this year, when the company will become 100% supported by renewable energy. Facebook has also announced a further goal for itself, committing to net-zero emissions for its entire “value chain” by 2030, including its suppliers and users.

“Over the next decade, Facebook will work to reduce carbon emissions from our operations and value chain,” the company said in a blogpost, “including by working with suppliers on their own goals, helping the development of new carbon removal technologies and making our facilities as efficient as possible.”

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Scott Morrison's power plan is nothing but a gas-fuelled calamity | Katharine Murphy

It really is remarkable, to have lived through the bushfire season at the start of this year, and emerge from that as a political leader stronger in your conviction that the answer is locking in more fossil fuels, for longer.

Mind-boggling, in truth.

But this is the point we’ve now arrived at. Scott Morrison’s gas-led recovery right now remains more like a plan for a plan than a concrete set of propositions. But that will change in the October budget, and the prime minister used a speech on Tuesday to make sure everybody understood that’s where he was heading.

Let’s be clear about why we have arrived here. We are here because Morrison’s corporate advisers, with backgrounds in the fossil fuel industry, are pushing for precisely this outcome.

The prime minister was refreshingly clear in his attribution on Tuesday. A key voice, he said, had been Andrew Liveris, a former Dow Chemical executive and current Saudi Aramco board member, who “sat down with me at Kirribilli” and said if “you want to change manufacturing in this country, you’ve got to deal with gas”.

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New Zealand minister calls for finance sector to disclose climate crisis risks in world first

New Zealand’s left-leaning Green party said it would require the financial sector to make annual disclosures about the impact of the climate crisis on their business, if it once again formed a government after October’s election. The policy would be a world-first, said James Shaw, the climate change minister and co-leader of the party.

“Australia, Canada, [the] UK, France, Japan, and the European Union are all working towards some form of climate risk reporting for companies,” said Shaw in a statement. “But New Zealand is moving ahead of them by making disclosures about climate risk mandatory across the financial system.”

Businesses covered by the requirements would have to make annual disclosures or explain why they had not done so. It is a model based on the taskforce on climate-related financial disclosures framework – formed by the international financial stability board – which is widely acknowledged as international best practice, he said.

About 200 organisations will be required to disclose their exposure to climate risk, Shaw said, including large crown financial institutions, such as the country’s accident compensation scheme and the national superannuation fund.

Firms covered by the requirements would have to make annual disclosures covering governance arrangements, risk management and strategies for mitigating any climate change impacts, said Shaw. If they were unable to disclose, they would have to explain why.

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