Climate change, economy, environment, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

“We are talking about a genuine existential issue”: An interview with Ian Dunlop, Sustainability Consultant based in Australia

This article is from an interview in 2016 and has been updated with more recent comments from Ian Dunlop and James Cox.

Ian Dunlop’s life has been spent in the center of the carbon economy and the climate change debate.

His bio from LinkedIn chronicles his background…

Ian Dunlop has wide experience in energy resources, infrastructure, and international business, for many years on the international staff of Royal Dutch Shell. He has worked at senior level in oil, gas and coal exploration and production, in scenario and long-term energy planning, competition reform and privatization. He chaired the Australian Coal Associations in 1987-88. From 1998-2000 he chaired the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading which developed the first emissions trading system design for Australia. From 1997 to 2001 he was CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Ian has a particular interest in the interaction of corporate governance, corporate responsibility and sustainability. An engineer from the University of Cambridge (UK), MA Mechanical Sciences, he is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Energy Institute (UK), and a Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME (USA). He is Chairman of Safe Climate Australia, a Director of Australia 21, Deputy Convenor of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil, a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development, a Member of The Club of Rome and a member of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Climate Change Task Force. He advises and writes extensively on governance, climate change, energy and sustainability.

He grew up in the middle of the oil and coal business, and over the years he has come to his own conclusions about climate change and the impact it will have on humanity’s future. I interviewed him mid-May 2016 to learn more. I wanted to learn more about what can be done about climate change, what the role of business is, and what the impact on the economy is.

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Climate change, economy, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

Financial Costs of Climate Change

In the past few years the costs associated with climate change have increased, for society, the economy and individuals. Managing the costs and learning to adjust to the risks associated w climate is going to be important for financial planning going forward.  

 

Fire have ravaged California for the past few years burning millions of acres and displacing thousands of families. As a result, drier conditions and years of drought forest areas have become more vulnerable to fires.

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economy, retirement

Tariffs, Trade Wars, and Risk

I have had several clients ask about what impact the proposed trade tariffs might have on their retirement plans.

 

On June 19th, 2018 the S&P 500 sank the most in three weeks with industrial companies getting hit hardest after President Donald Trump threatened tariffs on another $200 billion of Chinese goods, and the Asian nation pledged retaliation. (1)

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economy, income, interest rates, retirement

Fed raises rates, and questions, around the economy

On June 13th, 2018 the federal reserve raised interest rates 25 basis points and altered their expectation to raise rates a total of 4 times this year, compared to earlier expectation of 3 raises.

 

In his meeting with reporters to discuss fed policy, fed chair Powell stated, “Households are in good shape, and that is so important, that’s where we got into trouble before, and its often around property and housing that you see real problems emerge but we don’t see that now, and we take some solace from that.”

 

However, he also said, “Economic strength hasn’t reached everyone.”

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economy, income, retirement

How Can Student Loan Debt Threaten Your Retirement?

I recently talked to a client who is 50 years old and has $75,000 in student loan debt that they do not seem to be making any headway to eliminate. It illustrates a huge issue many people are facing as they approach retirement.

 

In 2018 student loan debt totaled $1.5 trillion… Student loans are unique in terms of unsecured debt in that the government can take extreme measures to recover defaulted student loans, including seizure of tax refunds and garnishment of wages. (1)(4)

 

In addition, the government can also garnish up to 15% of a person’s social security check to pay back defaulted student loans. For most American’s Social Security makes up the bulk of their retirement income. Loss of part of the income can have a catastrophic effect on a house hold.

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economy, income, interest rates, retirement

What are the risks as bond yields move higher?

Since December of 2017 bond yields for US Treasuries have moved up substantially. The increase in bond yields is having an impact on the US stock market, as well as markets around the world.

 

What is driving bond yields higher?

 

One significant driver is the Tax Cuts passed in December of 2017. The tax cuts are leading to an increase in the budget deficit and the need for additional bond issuance. More bond supply can lead to lower bond valuations and higher bond yields.

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Climate change, economy, environment, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

Climate Change Impacts: an Interview with Paul Beckwith

I was able to connect with Paul Beckwith first on March 20th, 2016 and more recently on May 18, 2018. We discussed the current state of Climate Change and what it means for global economic prospects. Professor Beckwith is a noted expert on Abrupt Climate Change. He is a professor at the University of Ottawa.

 

Prf. Beckwith starts by explaining, “I think the warming of the Arctic is destabilizing the climate system. The disruption of the temperature gradient between the Arctic and the temperate regions is what sets up weather patterns like the Jetstream. The Jetstream has basically broken down at this stage. The Whole arctic region is getting much darker due to sea ice loss, which leads to increased heat absorption, which then leads to accelerated glacial and ice melt.”

Climate change leads to drastic transitions and weather instability; higher temperatures mean more evaporation and more severe weather events.

In January of 2018 the arctic experienced a 40 degree temperature increase in a week, and this was during a time when the arctic was in 24 hours darkness. This has accelerated loss of sea ice in recent months, further disrupting the Jet Stream.

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Climate change, environment, income, retirement

Climate Change, Sea Level Rise and Retirement Risk

One of the oft repeated risks from climate change is the threat that comes from rising sea levels. Depending on the forecast, even in the most optimistic ones, seas are projected to rise several feet before the end of the century. With the accelerating build-up of CO2 and the rate of temperature increase (2016 being the hottest year on record), many expect dramatic sea level rise to occur much sooner than most expect. (https://www.co2.earth/ )

 

While people might want to buy shore property for benefits that include potential rental income, capital appreciation and personal use, they also face potential risks of hurricanes, sea level rise, etc. Some of these risks can be mitigated by purchasing flood insurance.

 

Last summer I explored the question, “if sea levels rise, what will be the impact on a clients’ net worth and portfolio?”

 

The answer is one few people are willing to confront.

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Climate change, environment, ESG, Socially Responsible Investing

First hand insights on Climate Change impacts in Bangladesh: An interview with Susmita Saha

This is a reprint of a 2016 interview.

I met Susmita Saha through Facebook. She liked a previous article I had written on the subject of climate change and I reached out to her to connect. Since then we message each other each day.

 

Knowing that the impacts of Climate Change will be hardest felt in places like Bangladesh I wanted to get her view of what is happening and how it affects her daily life. I asked her to start by describing her background, age, and upbringing.

 

“I am Susmita Saha. I live in Jhalakati, Barisal division, Bangladesh. I am 23. Currently I am a student of disaster management in Patuakhali Science & Technology University. I am studied in the science group. Originally I wanted to be a doctor to save lives & to serve the poor people in our community & help society… But I couldn’t… I then I decided to study in disaster management… It’s a challenging subject for me to obtain knowledge to mitigate the impacts of various hazards or disasters in our country….”

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