Weekly Highlights September 29, 2011

Sep 30, 2011 1:00 PM ET

Weekly Highlights September 29, 2011

Climate change denial increases with level of threat  
(The Bangor Daily News)  Tucked between treatises on algae and prehistoric turquoise beads, the study on page 460 of a long-ago issue of the U.S. journal Science drew little attention. “I don’t think there were any newspaper articles about it or anything like that,” the author recalls. But the headline on the 1975 report was bold: “Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” And this article that coined the term may have marked the last time a mention of “global warming” didn’t set off an instant outcry of angry denial. Associated Profiles : Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC)

The rise of the Far East solar sector is causing problems around the world — even in China  
(Recharge  Is it good for the solar manufacturing sector to be increasingly dominated by one country, China, where huge state subsidies allegedly help it flourish to the detriment of other nations? Consumers can appreciate the lower costs of panels, but Western governments — in the middle of an economic downturn — have mixed feelings. Many politicians claimed they could revive their flagging economies through a “green industrial revolution”, yet the amount of public investment required to compete with the Chinese is too high, both politically and economically.  Associated Profiles : Bloomberg New Energy Finance

China's Economic Expansionism  
(Forbes)  Throughout history, generals have tended to prepare for the next war by fighting the last one, failing to take into account the fact that circumstances seldom remain constant. In this vein, a top U.S. defense official recently warned that China’s military buildup is “potentially destabilizing” in the Pacific. Michael Schiffer, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, made this comment at a news briefing about a report, titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2011,” that is submitted every year to Congress.  Associated Profiles : World Economic Forum

New Approach Needed on Climate Change Post Kyoto 2012
(  The first Kyoto Protocol commitment period for developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ends in 2012 without any sign of agreement on the next phase. Although climate skeptics and many politicians have rejected the demands for developed countries (Annex 1) to reduce and pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, the Kyoto Protocol has been the only major international initiative on climate change for more than 20 years.  Associated Profiles : Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) 


Five Myths About Millionaires
(Bangor Daily News) This past week, President Obama tried to sell his new “millionaires’ tax” to the Rust Belt. “What’s great about this country is our belief that anyone can make it,” he said in Cincinnati on Thursday, praising “the idea that any one of us can open a business or have an idea that could make us millionaires.” But who are the millionaires Obama is talking about? And will a tax on them help the economy? Let’s examine a few presumptions about the man with the monocle on the Monopoly board. 

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Tony Blair's Gaddafi Dealings Draw Concerns  
(  Emails revealing former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s multiple dealings with Col. Muammar Gaddafi are raising questions over whether a conflict of interest persists between Blair’s business activities and his diplomatic endeavors as a Middle East envoy. The Telegraph reports that Blair, following his leave from office, visited the toppled head-of-state six times, once after the release of the Lockerbie bomber.  Associated Profiles : Libyan Investment Authority

Dubai says plans big solar plant  
(  The emirate of Dubai is poised to unveil a big solar power plant as part of a push to get five per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer, vice chairman of Dubai's Supreme Council of Energy, said on Monday. Under Dubai's Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, the Middle East emirate plans to reduce energy imports and climate warming carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, using its own solar power and nuclear power imported from neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi to reduce reliance on gas.  Associated Profiles : Abu Dhabi Investment Authority

Shareholders make their presence known in takeover battles 
(Financial  With a foot of snow blanketing New York City, Michael Schafler realized just how fundamental a recent shift in the role of shareholders has become. The litigation partner at Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP was speaking at a conference on shareholder activism in the city in January. The massive snowstorm wasn’t enough to keep attendees away. “The theme was clear: Shareholders are becoming more and more engaged,” he says. “Shareholder activism has really become a buzzword in the industry.”  Associated Profiles : Canadian Pension Plan (SPF

US Pension Funds

For Bank of America, a $50 Billion Claim of Havoc Looms
(  Bank of America's potential liability for bad mortgages - in the tens of billions of dollars - is well known. But Bank of America is haunted by other demons from the financial crisis, the most significant one being a lawsuit arising from its troubled Merrill Lynch acquisition. This lawsuit, brought by Bank of America shareholders, claims that Bank of America and its executives, including its former chief executive, Kenneth D. Lewis, failed to disclose what would be a $15.31 billion loss at Merrill in the days before and after the acquisition.  Associated Profiles : Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS

California Remains One of Few States that Allow Bargaining Pensions  
(Public CEO)  In pension-troubled Rhode Island the state auditor general is recommending the end of something that makes California unusual among states: allowing labor unions to bargain for pension and retiree health benefits. Bargaining is blamed by critics for a "bidding war" that drove local government pensions in California to unaffordable levels. New benchmarks were set when CalPERS sponsored legislation, SB 400 in 1999, giving state workers a major pension increase. Associated Profiles : California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS)

CalPERS officials are fined for not properly reporting gifts  
(Los Angeles Times)  Board members and officers of the nation's largest pension fund, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, have been fined for not properly reporting gifts from investment firms. The 16 fines, levied by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, were relatively small — from $200 to $3,600 — but they underscored that CalPERS remains embroiled in an influence-peddling and public-corruption scandal that began two years ago.  Associated Profiles : California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS


Washington state's public pensions are among nation's best-funded 
(Seattle Times) 

In  a recent guest commentary, a researcher from the other Washington argued that our state pension programs are in trouble because elected officials make promises without paying for them. Andrew G. Biggs reaches this conclusion by ignoring both the way our public pensions are managed and the investment returns achieved from pension funds.  Washington's pension plans are among the best-funded in the nation, with assets sufficient to pay the benefits earned. Thirteen of the state's 15 plans are fully funded. Only two, known as PERS 1 and TRS 1, closed to new employees more than three decades ago, are currently underfunded. 

Associated Profiles : Washington State Department of Retirement Systems

This is just a sample of some of the articles from this weeks SustainabilityHQ Highlights.  You can view the full Highlights by using the following links.  Sustainability | ESG, Highlights for the Week of September 29, 2011