Clean Investor, November 15: Quebec pension fund backs major wind project

RI’s regular look at environmental investing developments.

Montreal-based C$151.7bn (€109bn) pension fund, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, has backed one of the largest wind energy development sites in Québec. It has invested $25m, in the form of senior debt, in the 272MW Seigneurie de Beaupré Wind Farms project north of the St. Lawrence River. “With our investment in this project, we are contributing to a renewable energy initiative in Québec while generating a return that meets the objectives of our depositors,” the fund said. Announcement

Index firm FTSE is planning a set of ‘carbon tilted’ indices for Australia, according to a report in the Financial Standard citing FTSE’s Director of Responsible Investment, David Harris. The measures, based on existing UK indices, will launch next year, starting with Australia then Japan and Europe.

The Climate Bonds Initiative, which is leading a green bonds standards program, has appointed three new professionals to its advisory panel.
They are Abyd Karmali, a Managing Director and Global Head of Carbon Markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Dr Barbara Buchner, a Director at the Climate Policy Initiative, and Wolfgang Mostert, an independent consultant in developing finance frameworks for energy and environment.

The Government of Alberta has launched an interactive information portal for its controversial oil sands region. “The portal focuses on the cumulative effects of development in the oil sands region and looks at Air, Water, Land, Climate Change, Wildlife, and Conservation. The portal has both an interactive map display and a data library,” it says. The move was welcomed as a “positive step forward” by environmental researchers at the Pembina Institute.

At least $97bn is already being provided annually to finance low-carbon, climate-resilient activities – according to the advisory group the Climate Policy Initiative. Its Landscape of Climate Finance report also found that the total amount of private finance is almost three times greater than total public finance, indicating the importance of capital investment to mitigation and adaptation activities. “Finance derived from offset markets plays only a small role at present,” it said.

The winners of the 2011 Climate Change Investment awards have been announced. The Best Climate Change Fund gong went to the F&C Global Climate Opportunities Fund, while Picket Asset Management was named Best Fund Management Group. SAM’s SAM Smart Energy Fund was Best Clean Energy Fund. And the Best Water, Food, Agriculture & Forestry Fund was the Sarasin Sustainable Water Fund A. Legal & General’s Global Environmental Enterprise Fund was best new entrant.The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) says it plans to launch carbon futures before the country’s carbon emissions trading scheme begins in 2015. It said it was “committed to support the implementation of an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2015 as part of the Clean Energy legislative package approved by the Australian Senate on 8 November 2011”. Link

The World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds have approved $1.08bn in near-zero interest rate loans to assist Bolivia, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Lao, Mali, Mexico and Nepal to adapt to climate change. And under the CIFs’ Clean Technology Fund, India’s a $775m ‘Super-Efficient Equipment Program’ was also endorsed.

China’s State Council has approved plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to make a 17% cut in C02 emission per unit of GDP by 2015. To realize the goal, China should actively develop and promote low-carbon energy, while accelerating the setting up of a system to calculate emissions, said a statement quoted by state news agency Xinhua. Link

US development finance institution the Overseas Private Investment Corp. has executed the first political risk insurance contract for a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project. OPIC is providing $900,000 in political risk insurance to Terra Global Capital, US carbon investment company that has invested in a project that will protect 64,318 hectares of forest in Cambodia and sequester some 8.7m metric tons of CO2.

The cost of electricity from onshore wind turbines will drop 12% in the next five years thanks to a mix of lower-cost equipment and gains in output efficiency, according to new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It said the best wind farms in the world already produce power as economically as coal, gas and nuclear generators; while the research finds that even the average wind farm will be “fully competitive” by 2016.

The UK government-backed UK Innovation Investment Fund (UKIIF), launched two years ago to target £1bn of investments towards areas including cleantech, has had just £5m of investments from outside investors, according to a report in Financial News. Of the £330m raised, the government has put in £150m, and the firms running the fund have put in £175m.