Environmental news round-up, March 6: Malaysian SWF giant to invest more in green tech companies

RI’s regular round-up of environmental investing news.

Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah is looking to invest more in ‘green technology’ companies, according to local media reports.
Khazanah managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said the fund was already committed to green growth and had made investments in industries including toxic waste and C02 management.

The Global Reporting Initiative, the non-profit organisation that promotes economic, environmental and social sustainability, has launched new guidance on how companies in the oil and gas sector can report on oil spills, carbon emissions and safety. The GRI’s Oil and Gas Sector Supplement was developed with input from the companies and other stakeholder institutions.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has released a report arguing that climate change and water scarcity could have a significant effect on the economy, industry, and electricity prices in the east of England over the coming decades. “Credit FAQ: How Water Shortages In Eastern England Could Increase Costs For U.K.-Based Utilities” was carried out in conjunction with environmental data firm Trucost and the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

Corporate responsibility and sustainability firm BrownFlynn has been named as a ‘Silver Consultancy Partner’ for the Carbon Disclosure Project in the US. This means it can help companies respond to CDP information requests. Link

The Chinese government has reportedly introduced a green credit guideline for commercial lenders to strengthen financial support for green industries and projects. China Daily reports that the country’s Banking Regulatory Commission has ordered lenders to cut loans to industries with high-energy consumption, pollution or excessive capacity. In turn, it is encouraging banks to evaluate the environmental and social risks inherent in their clients’ businesses and us them as a key reference in access to credit.

The Bank of England has reportedly agreed to meet investors next month to discuss whether climate change poses a systemic risk to capital markets. In January, a coalition of investors, academics and environmental groups wrote to Mervyn King, chairman of the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee, warning that the exposure of the UK to high-carbon and unsustainable investments pose a risk to financial stability. Environmental Finance reports that King has agreed to a meeting in April, which will be attended by representatives from financial firms including Aviva Investors, Climate Change Capital and HSBC.Prudential Capital Group, an arm of Prudential Financial Inc., has provided $121m of financing for a new 127MW solar photovoltaic power project in Arizona being developed by LS Power. The financing is part of an innovative structure developed in partnership with Banco Santander that put $466m into the project. Link

Global private sector investments in ‘green’ companies and technologies now total more than $3.3trn, according to the 2012 Green Transition Scoreboard from Ethical Markets Media. It says Asia, Europe and Latin America are catching up with the US in total non-government green investments.

The South African government plans to introduce a phased-in carbon tax next year of R120 (€12.1), according to reports. The recent state budget proposed a 60% tax-free threshold on annual emissions for all sectors, including electricity, petroleum, iron, steel and aluminium.

The investment arm of US electronics giant General Electric (GE) spent $1.4bn supporting solar projects last year, more than double its commitment in 2010, according to the firm. It said its GE Financial Services’ largest deal was a $100m investment in a 172MW photovoltaic (PV) plant being developed in Arizona.

US Senator Jeff Bingaman has put forward the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 (CESA), which would create certainty for US clean energy investments. The bill would require electric utilities to supply up to 84% of their electricity sales from qualifying energy resources by 2035. Electricity generated by wind, solar, nuclear, and natural gas, as well as coal that uses carbon capture and storage technology could be eligible to earn credits under CESA.

A report by KPMG has listed what it says are 10 connected “megaforces” that could have a significant impact on business growth over the next two decades. They are: climate change, water scarcity, growing populations, deforestation, energy supply volatility, material resource scarcity, wage inflation, urbanisation, food security and ecosystem decline.