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Canadian climate turnaround, China's environmental KPIs, industry climate risk task force and EU tax report
Canada's breath of fresh air
Canada's approach to climate change and environmental issues looks set to abruptly change following the election of Justin Trudeau as prime minister. Under the previous government of Stephen Harper, Canada became an environmental laggard. Its pledge to the Paris climate summit amounted to a measly 2% cut in industrial emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, according to Climate Action Tracker. But Trudeau has promised a national climate change plan under which the country's provinces will have to put in place measures that will contribute to a deeper emissions cut. Trudeau's agenda also includes more conservation measures, a “medium-term” phase out of fossil-fuel subsidies and a crack-down on air pollutants.
Environmental accountability in China
China is moving towards an environmental accountability system for government officials and their Chinese Communist Party mentors. The Chinese State Council in mid-November published an outline policy under which officials will be evaluated on how they manage land and water resources and deal with air pollution. Officials ranked as failing against criteria set by the policy could be demoted. The policy will be piloted in 2017 and spread out nationally in 2018. China has chronic environmental problems including smog in cities, pollution in industrial towns, extensive water pollution and waste dumping. Back in 2013, after his sister died of cancer aged 35, a Chinese businessman offered $32,000 to a local environment official if he would swim in a local river downstream from polluting shoe factories. The offer was not taken up.
Jobs depend on reducing pollution
Climate task force
The Swiss-based Financial Stability Board, chaired by Bank of England governor Mark Carney and with a remit to make recommendations on global financial stability, has said it wants to establish an “industry-led disclosure taskforce on climate-related risks”. The task force would propose “voluntary, consistent climate-related disclosures” that financial firms could make to help assess the risk to the global financial system caused by increasing global warming. Climate risks, according to the FSB, could be physical, such as damage caused by storms, liability-related if “parties who have suffered loss or damage from the effects of climate change seek compensation”, or linked to low-carbon transition – for example, the risk of stranded assets such as unburnable fossil fuel. The FSB proposal comes in response to a request from the G20 economies.
Climate change risks financial instability
A year on from the exposure of ultra-low rate tax deals offered to companies by Luxembourg, little has changed, despite promises of European Union level action to ensure tax fairness, according to a report by the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad). The report found that “tweaks have been made and some loopholes have been closed” but, overall, lack of transparency remains the rule, making it still relatively easy in most EU countries to establish anonymous shell companies and trusts, and for companies not to publicly disclose their tax payments. EU countries have also blocked plans for a more global approach to corporate taxation, and “decision-making on global tax standards and rules remains within a closed club of rich countries” the report says.
EU blocks global corporation taxation rules