Thursday, September 09, 2021

Australian superannuation juggernaut says it will not divest its substantial oil and gas holdings to meet newly detailed climate targets, as it announced plans to phase out thermal coal investments by the end of the decade

IFM, which is owned by 23 industry superannuation funds, is one of the world’s biggest infrastructure investors and owns substantial oil and gas pipelines in the US. The company announced plans to achieve net zero emissions in its $74 billion infrastructure portfolio, including by fully exiting thermal coal by 2030.

IFM’s global head of infrastructure Kyle Mangini said there is “relatively little debate” on the outlook for thermal coal – an energy source that governments around the world are rejecting in the quest to reduce carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy sources.

“We acknowledge that it is part of the energy mix today but it will be phased out of the energy mix over time, and from that perspective, it’s not a sound long-term investment,” Mr Mangini said. “We put the blanket exclusion on coal really because of the view it’s not viable and that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.”

Major investment firms have set net zero emissions targets in recent years and are now using either divestment - selling out of carbon-heavy assets- or engagement - remaining invested to advocate for change - to achieve these goals.

IFM’s remaining exposure to thermal coal is limited to the Polish district heating business bought in 2006. But the fund manager owns other carbon-heavy assets including North American oil and gas infrastructure projects Colonial Pipeline and Buckeye Partners. Chief executive David Neal said there were no plans to sell these assets to meet decarbonisation targets.

“We’re really focused on transition rather than divestment,” Mr Neal said. “So what can we do to help the assets in the oil and gas sector at the right time and in the right way transition to support the new cleaner economy? There is a lot of opportunity to do just that.”

“Divestment might get the emissions down in our portfolio but it does absolutely nothing for the planet’s emissions and it certainly does not help the global economy. This is about being a responsible investor.”

IFM’s interim targets include reducing scope one and two emissions (direct emissions and emissions from electricity use) across infrastructure assets by 40 per cent by 2040. This will be achieved, for example, by encouraging its airports and ports to install solar panels or diversify operations to include clean energy projects.

Reducing scope 3 emissions is not part of IFM’s climate plan, which includes indirect emissions like those from airplanes using IFM’s airports or gas passing through IFM’s pipelines. Mr Neal said these were “incredibly important” to understanding long-term risks but were outside IFM’s “direct influence and control”.

“The more people are concerned about the emissions that come from flying, the less airports get used. Those sorts of things,” he said. “There’s a difference here between what we’re worried about and what risks we’re managing.”

The International Energy Agency in May released a report claiming there could be no new oil and gas projects if the world was to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Mr Neal said retaining its oil and gas assets would “in many cases but not exclusively” rely on the development of new technologies or carbon offsets.

Mr Mangini added the oil and gas sector would play a “really important stabilising role” for the adoption of renewable energy until “storage capability is built into the system more broadly”.

“The fact you can generate [energy] now with a renewable source that is less expensive than fossil fuels means you don’t require government subsidies in many cases is a huge development. Now you have investment being led by the market instead of being led by the government,” he said. “There has been tremendous progress, there is so much RND [research and development] I feel very optimistic we will see a lot more progress.”

Nationals MP George Christensen last week accused the major banks of “caving” to international investor pressure when making decisions to phase out exposure to thermal coal. Mr Neal also rejected any “pressure” from investors and said decarbonisation was rather a collaborative approach to managing investment risk.

“I think we are all on this same journey. Our investors are working through how is their long-term risk being managed? How are the opportunities from this massive energy transition that’s going to occur over the next couple of decades, how are those opportunities being embraced?

“There’s no doubt those engagements are much more intense than they used to be. There’s huge momentum across the investment world in understanding how climate risk can be managed.”

IFM will soon release interim decarbonisation targets for the remainder of its $174 billion portfolio including listed equities, private equity and debt.


Woke Melbourne council BANS men from applying for $63,000-a-year street sweeper job 'to promote equality' - but non-binary people and transgender women are eligible

A Melbourne council has limited applications for a $63,000-a-year street sweeper job to people who identify as 'non-male'.

Darebin City Council, in Melbourne's northern suburbs, posted the Street Sweeper Operator vacancy on its website, with applications closing in mid September.

The advert states only women and non-binary or gender-nonconforming people are eligible for the job in order to achieve 'a diverse and inclusive organisation that reflects our community'.

The council described the ban on men as a 'special measure' under Victoria's Equal Opportunity Act in order to 'to foster greater equality'.

The job listing also states the council is an 'Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate in its selection and employment practices.'

The council promotes itself as a 'progressive leader' in local government and is passionate about social inclusion and creating a diverse workforce.

It also states Darebin Council is home to one of the 'largest, most diverse communities' anywhere in Victoria regarding 'culture, language, religions, gender, age, abilities, socio-economic background, employment status, occupation, and housing needs.'

Daily Mail Australia contacted Darebin City Council and Mayor Lina Messina for comment.

The same council last week voted unanimously for staff to create a report on ways to ban nuclear weapons in the community.

A motion moved by Independent Councillor Gaetano Greco called for staff to examine how the council can embed exclusions of nuclear weapons in council investment policies and to find out if the council is involved in 'transacting' with companies associated with the production of nuclear weapons.

Councillor Greco also asked for advice to be gathered on how to further advocate for the ban of nuclear weapons and to urge other councils, organisations and communities to take action.

Four councillors from Darebin also attended the Australian Local Government Association, where delegates passed a motion to urge Australia to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


‘Delta usurped the one decision Australia thought we could control’

The Delta variant has forced Australia to live with COVID-19, a leading epidemiologist said, stressing that the public should no longer expect to hear about every case as the pandemic approaches the end of its second year.

In a paper published by the Sax Institute on Wednesday, Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett argued that the advent of the Delta variant has forced Australia to abandon its hope of stage-managing a perfect reopening to the world.

Professor Catherine Bennett believes the Delta variant has shown Australia it cannot stage a perfect reopening, and instead must focus on vaccination.
Professor Catherine Bennett believes the Delta variant has shown Australia it cannot stage a perfect reopening, and instead must focus on vaccination.CREDIT:JASON SOUTH

“Delta has usurped one important decision we thought was in our control – when we would let the virus in,” Professor Bennett wrote in the paper.

She said this drastic shift in the number of cases in the community, coinciding with the planned push for vaccination rates, had greatly bolstered the latter, although it was not surprising that the former was weighing on the mind of both some members of the public and some state governments.

“Our confidence in the path out of our current situation, in which more than half of the Australian population is affected by lockdowns, is not helped by the realisation that we are shifting into our transition from a very un-COVID-zero position,” she added.

Professor Bennett said NSW Health was “paving the way” for other states by shifting the focus of daily press conferences and alerts from case numbers and exposure sites to vaccination figures and availability.

“We do not know yet what the test, trace and isolate model in the transition plan looks like, but it will have a different emphasis from the 360-degree approach employed to date that includes searching for transmission chains downstream for those exposed and also upstream for a possible source,” she wrote.

“We no longer need to find every case if we are in suppression mode and NSW Health may be paving the way ahead for all states as they shift emphasis under the sheer burden of case numbers.”

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Professor Bennett said there was still merit in reporting daily case numbers as NSW approaches higher levels of vaccination coverage.

“Right now they are a predictor of what’s happening in hospitals and everyone still wants to know. I think if they did suddenly disappear, people would feel more anxious,” she said.

However, she said this should end once vaccination rates were sufficient and cases were not peaking.

“What you are managing then, at a state-level, is the disease, you are not managing every single infection,” she said.

“That becomes the domain of public health teams. And it could be a case of, if you catch it and you have been vaccinated, you won’t need to quarantine and that will be it.”

She flagged that Australia would be unlikely to experience a UK-style Freedom Day. Instead, it was likely that Australia would live with certain restrictions, such as masks, as well as social distancing habits. Professor Bennett expected some parts of the country to watch on for the effects of reopening in the two most populous states.

“We are testing our seaworthiness as we go,” she said.

Professor Emeritus Stephen Leeder, a University of Sydney public health researcher and director of the Research and Education Network at Western Sydney Local Health District, said he did not know if Australia “ever really thought COVID was in their control”, noting the international experience, as well as the potential for new variants, were well understood by government and health authorities.

“If we are to say the strategy of having zero cases is no longer an option: did we ever really think it was?”

Professor Leeder agreed that vaccination rates had been accelerated by the introduction of Delta into the community, but said he believed an elimination strategy was never viable, or seriously on the table, despite the rhetoric of some state premiers, such as Western Australia’s Mark McGowan.

“If that was a strategy, it would need to be inclusive of the whole of the world, like we have done with smallpox. But we are nowhere near that; there is COVID everywhere around the world,” he added.


China’s ban on Australian coal is an own goal

One of the curious developments of the past few months is that the slump in iron ore prices hasn’t been accompanied by similar falls in the prices of other key steelmaking ingredient, metallurgical coal.

Indeed, while the iron ore price has fallen about 34 per cent, from just under $US220 a tonne in mid-July to around $US145 a tonne, Australian metallurgical coal prices have soared from around $US100 a tonne at the start of this year to about $US220 a tonne. In China, the steel mills have been paying as much as $US440 a tonne for metallurgical, or coking, coal.

There are a number of influences at play to explain the divergence between the prices of what should be quite highly correlated commodities.

The iron ore price slump was the obvious consequences of a decision by China’s authorities to cap annual steel production at the same level as last year’s 1.05 billion tonnes. Given that the mills’ production was up 12 per cent in the first half of this year that has forced an equivalent cut to output in the second half.

That directive was part of a broader effort in China to curb soaring commodity prices, reduce China’s reliance on Australia for iron ore (part of the broader “punishment” for our leaders’ supposed intemperate remarks) and reduce emissions from one of its most emissions-intensive industries.

Metallurgical coal was, with energy coal, among the Australian exports targeted by the Chinese authorities for both explicit and unofficial bans late last year.

Initially buffeted by the abrupt cessation of demand from the biggest market for Australian coal, both energy and metallurgical coal prices have rebounded quite dramatically.

China authorities are aiming to reduce leverage in the over-indebted property and construction sectors where some of the country’s biggest companies are teetering. Those sectors are the biggest sources of demand for steel.

Metallurgical coal is interesting because Australia, and BHP in particular, dominate the seaborne trade in metallurgical coal with a market share of around 60 per cent. BHP accounts for roughly two-third of those exports. The next biggest supplier, the US, has a share of only about 16 per cent.

Unlike iron ore, where China is by far the dominant customer, demand for metallurgical coal is far more widely spread. China, Japan, the European Union and India each absorb about 20 per cent of seaborne supply.

While, as occurred with energy coal and other Australian products, the Chinese bans created initial shocks and disruptions as China’s demand completely evaporated – for months cargoes of Australian coal sat fruitlessly off China’s coast and prices dived – China appears to have miscalculated how quickly the producers would respond and how significantly its bans would rebound on its own industries.

For the moment, at least, while some of the exports China has targeted haven’t had the ability to adjust as easily or seen their markets recover in the same way as energy and metallurgical coal, the Chinese sanctions are hurting their companies and economy more than Australia’s.

Having lost China as a customer the Australian coal producers scrambled to find new customers, perversely aided by the slump in the prices. Buyers in Japan, India, the EU and South Korea, presented with high-quality coal at bargain prices, grabbed the opportunity.

Having shut off access to Australian coal, China had to find supply elsewhere. For metallurgical coal it turned to North America, Russia, South Africa and Mongolia.

Unsurprisingly, given the dominance of Australian supply in the metallurgical coal market in particular and the extra distance and costs involved in shipping North American coal to China relative to Australian coal, that caused some significant dislocations in a market already being impacted by the first half boom in China’s steel production.

China’s domestic prices for coking coal began spiking sharply even as the cost of its imports was rising.

Some production shutdowns in Australia when the initial loss of China as a customer and the price plunge forced the producers into losses, curtailing supply while COVID-related border closures that impacted access to Mongolian production and mine closures in China itself flowing from safety and environmental concern were other influences on a price for China’s own supply that surged quite dramatically. It’s now solidly over $US400 a tonne, having peaked at $US440 a tonne.

The price rise for the Australian metallurgical coal producers hasn’t been as dramatic but is above $US220 a tonne – it has more than doubled since the start of the year – dragged up by the prices China has been forced to pay to replace the Australian volumes with higher cost and lower quality products.

Australian coking coals are premium products, helping to maximise production yields and minimise the environmental effects. The redirection of Australian exports at prices way below those China is paying is good for China’s competitors in Asia and Europe and not so good for its own mills.

China has imposed price caps on its domestic coal producers and the big second-half cutbacks to steel production (if the mills do fully comply with Beijing’s directive) will also have an impact on demand for coal.

The outsized role of the Australian producers in the market for metallurgical coal, the premium quality of their products, the proximity of Australian supply to the key Asian markets and China’s own need for high-quality coal ought, however, to provide a relatively elevated floor under prices.

The super-premium prices China is paying are the unintended consequences of its efforts to punish Australia for the temerity of our leaders asking for proper investigations of the origins of the pandemic, criticising China’s treatment of Uighurs and its actions in Hong Kong.

For the moment, at least, while some of the exports China has targeted haven’t had the ability to adjust as easily or seen their markets recover in the same way as energy and metallurgical coal, the Chinese sanctions are hurting its companies and economy more than Australia’s.


Militant vegan who earns $40,000 a month on OnlyFans and stormed Louis Vuitton while half-naked and covered in her own menstrual blood says she feels 'empowered' when screaming 'animal abusers' at strangers

I have always said that self-promotion is a major motivation for Leftism so this admission is no surprise. She demonstrates because it makes her feel good. Whether she actually cares about animals is unknown

A militant vegan who allegedly stormed Luis Vuitton wearing a g-string and smeared with her own menstrual blood says she'll never stop protesting against the 'animal holocaust' - even if her friends and family abandon her.

Tash Peterson was charged with disorderly conduct after she allegedly interrupted shoppers at the high-end store at Raine Square in Perth's CBD on August 21 yelling: 'If you're not vegan, you're an animal abuser'.

She will face Perth Magistrates Court in mid-September and believes she will be hit with a $6,000 fine, but the 27-year-old is unfazed and believes the alleged demonstration was a wild success.

'I think it was my most powerful disruptive protest yet,' she told Daily Mail Australia.

'It's important for me to be as creative as possible so more people see my message - the moment my clothes come off, I get a lot more attention.'

A day after the bloody stunt, she was at it again outside the same store carrying a megaphone and wearing a cropped black hoodie with 'end the animal holocaust' on the front and 'if you're not vegan, you're an animal abuser' on the back.

The serial protester then started accusing stunned strangers on the street of being murderers.

'Who was murdered for your leather bag, down jacket and woollen jumper? If you buy animal skin, fur, wool, scales, feathers and silk, you are paying for the most horrific animal abuse on this planet,' she bellowed into the megaphone.

While the footage of Ms Peterson being dragged out of Luis Vuitton by burly security guards while wearing next to nothing and drenched in her own fluids was alarming, the serial protester said she's only just getting started.

She has now traded in her job as a pool lifeguard to sell topless and nude selfies for her Only Fans subscribers, and earns staggering $40,000 per month - more than enough to fuel her dream of being a full-time activist.

'I was trying to figure out how to sustain my life as a full-time activist,' she said.

'I'd been considering Only Fans for almost a year, and I thought deeply about it and realised I'm on a mission to help animals - I'm willing to do almost anything to help them.'

Unbridled by finances, Ms Peterson is thrilled to be able to pour all her energy into her 'creative' public demonstrations.

'I want to go inside facilities and expose the [animal] industry,' she said.

'There are so many amazing forms of activism - I'm so grateful to be a full-time activist now - maybe eventually one day I can travel the world and do it.'

Ms Peterson's abrasive demonstrations usually involve chastising customers at non-vegan restaurants, supermarkets and shops for consuming animal products - while scantily clad and dripping with blood.

Earlier this year, her wild stunts saw her banned from every pub in Western Australia.

On Friday she revealed that Instagram deleted her Vegan Booty page, which boasted about 31,000 followers, for repeatedly uploading photos of animal abuse to 'expose' the industry.

When asked if she ever feels embarrassed or ashamed after any of her protests, which are filmed and widely distributed on social media, Ms Peterson said any backlash she receives only encourages her to keep going.

'It's a very surreal feeling going inside a venue and doing a unique protest - it's difficult to explain what it's like in the moment, but I'm there for these trillions of animals who are suffering,' she said.

'I do get incredibly nervous before disrupting, but once I'm inside I feel empowered.'

Ms Peterson already has a criminal record for trespass after she ran on to Perth Stadium in the first-ever women's Western Derby in 2020 while holding a black flag reading 'right to rescue' - until Fremantle midfielder Kiara Bowers tackled her.

When she walked free from Perth Magistrate's Court, she and a fellow activist stood on the court steps for several minutes with black duct tape over their mouths holding signs reading 'it's time to listen to the animals'.

Peterson refused to answer questions from reporters while the squeals of cows and pigs being slaughtered in Western Australian abattoirs played from nearby speakers.

She acknowledged that she will have to be careful not to land in jail where her animal rights messages would fall on deaf ears, but feels that her brushes with the law are justified. 'I don't want to have to be breaking the law, but I believe one has a moral obligation to break unjust laws,' she said. 'If I'm getting a criminal record because I'm getting my message out there, that's something I'm willing to risk.'

Ms Peterson is also happy to forgo precious relationships with family and friends who can't handle her very public form of activism.

'I'm willing to risk any relationships with family and friends - nothing is going to stop me - I find I'm only wanting to do more than I ever have before,' Ms Peterson said.

'I've lost many friendships already because people can't handle that I do this sort of thing - I don't really speak to a lot of my old friends anymore.'

Ms Peterson recalled her mother laying in bed for months because she was so riddled with anxiety over the amount of times the police came knocking on the door looking for her only daughter.

She said it put an 'enormous' strain on her family, who became increasingly stressed over her antics, 'but it wasn't going to stop me,' she added.

While her mother eventually went vegan herself and now supports her daughter's active vegan lifestyle flourishing Only Fans page, her father has had a harder time trying to accept her life decisions. 'He says he's proud, but it doesn't quite sit right with him,' she said.

'It's affected our relationship a lot, but it's not going to stop me.'




1 comment:

Paul said...

Actually Delta has shown that vaccination is not a panacea for everything, and that were anybody high up serious about health issues, they would focus much more on treatment, but with Morrison's AZ call Australia's investment paying off has been placed ahead of our survival.

Coronaviruses are not readily vaccinated against, as was known 15 years ago, which is why we never saw a commercial SARS vaccine.