Opperman was writing to the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee, which is carrying out an inquiry into green finance. As part of this the committee is trying to develop an understanding of the approach UK pension funds are taking to environmental risks and, more generally, green finance. The UK government is considering requiring pension scheme trustees to have a policy for climate change, it revealed in a letter to a group of parliamentarians.Corporate governance is another area for which trustees could be required to have a specific policy.The requirements are one of several options for policy and regulation the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) is considering seeking feedback on in an upcoming consultation on pension funds and investments related to social or environmental considerations.The government had already committed to such a consultation in its response to a Law Commission report on pensions funds and social investment last year but the letter from Guy Opperman, pensions minister, revealed more about its thinking about what to consult on. Source: Chis McAndrewGuy Opperman, pensions minister, responded to questions from the Environmental Audit Committee in a letterAccording to the letter from Opperman, other options the government is considering consulting on include requiring trustees to evaluate how they intend to take account of financially material risks, and – when they revisit their statement of investment principles – to review how they ensured those considerations were taken into account.The department was also mulling consulting on requiring trustees to publish the statement of investment principles or make it available to all on request, and to tell members that it was available.Opperman said the DWP was planning to launch the consultation in May or June and that, rather than making small technical amendments, it wanted to introduce regulations “which are as effective as possible in delivering the right level and consideration by trustees”.Opperman also revealed the government was planning to shortly propose legislation that would require trustees of defined contribution (DC) occupational schemes to disclose on request the pooled funds in which members are invested, and to tell members annually that this information is available. This, said Opperman, would enable members “to identify and access other publicly available information about the policies of the investment managers in relation to voting, engagement, and sustainable and responsible investment.The DWP would also shortly propose legislation that would require disclosure of information about “the cost implications of churn” – turnover of assets – to DC pension scheme members, he said.‘Outright misunderstanding’ of fiduciary dutyIn his letter, Opperman said the government was aware of “relatively little robust research” on the way that pension funds interpret risks such as climate change but that “good practice appears to be far from universal”.Recent research had indicated that “a lack of attention and outright misunderstanding” of the scope of their fiduciary duty remained widespread among trustees.This was despite guidance on this from The Pensions Regulator.Opperman said there was broad scientific and public policy consensus that climate change was such a risk, so trustees had a duty to take account of it.“ A young person auto-enrolled on a pension today may be 45 years away from retirement. Over that timescale these climate change risks will inevitably grow.”Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee They had a duty to take account of any and all financially material risks, including where these emerged from environmental or social contexts.It was rare for there to be cases where no social or environmental considerations would be financially material, if at all, Opperman wrote in his letter.Subject to the outcome of the upcoming consultation, the government would bring forward legislation that “clarifies this point”, he indicated.Parliamentary committee probes pension fundsThe Environmental Audit Committee published Opperman’s letter when it today announced it had written to the 25 largest UK pension funds to ask how they manage the risks that climate change poses to pension savings.Mary Creagh, Labour chair of the committee said: “The climate change risks of tomorrow should be considered by pension funds today. A young person auto-enrolled on a pension today may be 45 years away from retirement. Over that timescale these climate change risks will inevitably grow.”The letter asks the pension fund trustees a range of questions, such as whether they accept that pension funds are potentially exposed to financial risks through climate change, what actions they had taken in response to climate change-related risks – if they had considered these –, and if they were planning to adopt recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures for their scheme’s reporting.The pension funds have been asked to respond by 28 March.Reactions – delight and dismayCommenting on the move by the committee of MPs, Luke Hildyard, policy lead for stewardship and corporate governance at the UK pension fund association, said: “Numerous credible commentators from institutions such as the Bank of England, Cambridge University and many leading financial services firms have highlighted the major economic impact of climate change and the serious long-term threat that it poses to pension funds’ investments.“It’s definitely an issue that trustees should be making time to discuss and seeking advice on.”Rachel Haworth, senior policy officer at campaign organisation ShareAction, welcomed that the Environmental Audit Committee was “taking decisive action to assess how far pension funds are taking account of climate risk”.“We applaud the government’s intention to introduce robust regulations that are as effective as possible in delivering the necessary changes,” she added.Others, however, pushed back against claims that trustees were misunderstanding their fiduciary duties. Rosalind Connor, partner at ARC Pensions Law said: “The widespread misunderstanding of trustees’ duties may extend to others involved in this debate.”She suggested that, often, statements about the need for trustees to understand their duty to invest in green assets for financial reasons were motivated by something else.“The concern that is really underpinning this is that trustees are not investing in a way that is good for the environment,” she said. “That is not the pension trustees’ duty under the present law.”She said it was because trustees understood their obligations that pension fund investment was not flowing into “greener” investments, not because they didn’t understand them.“If MPs want trustees to invest in more sustainable investments, they should investigate changing the law to make this a requirement. It is not accurate to blame the trustees when they are simply complying with their obligations.”The pensions minister’s letter can be found here.
Stuff.co 6 August 2013Opponents of a planned Porirua liquor store have told of the harm alcohol has caused in the area.Plans for a new bottle store across from Waitangirua’s Russell School – on the same site as a previous outlet – have unleashed a fresh wave of anger.About 100 people marched in Porirua yesterday against the proposal, before a Liquor Licensing Authority hearing.Empty cans were strewn about, vandalism was common, and children could not play barefoot because of the danger of broken glass, said Russell School board of trustees chairman Matt Crawshaw.“It has been an absolute injustice for our children to grow up with this liquor store across the road from their school.” Last year, his family’s pet chicken was killed by people who were drunk and hungry – “an example of the damage and harm we endured in our neighbourhood” before Thirsty Liquor closed at the end of April when the lease for its Fantame St store was terminated.Russell School principal Sose Annandale had concerns about the safety of students and staff. Abuse was common, as was graffiti, and they often found bottles with alcohol still in them.“This continued until April this year.”Porirua police alcohol harm reduction officer Senior Sergeant Steve Sargent said that since the previous store’s hours were cut and it was closed, crime had dropped by 31 per cent in the Fantame St area.http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9005014/Bid-to-reopen-bottle-shop-near-school-sparks-anger
After snapping their two-game losing streak, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team left the field full of smiles after narrowly defeating Penn State 1-0 Saturday afternoon.The Badgers (6-3-0) were able to stay on top of the Nittany Lions (6-3-0) despite allowing numerous penalties near their own goal.“It was a group effort and something we haven’t seen yet this season,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “I am very proud of them today.”Saturday’s game was a big matchup for the Badgers, as it marked their first Big Ten conference game of the season. Penn State’s stature as the defending Big Ten Co-Champions only magnified the pressure surrounding this game. However, the Badgers were able to overcome any anxiety and claim their first Big Ten win of the season.During the 17th minute of play, senior forward and captain Laurie Nosbusch was able to put the ball in the back of the net off a long throw-in into UW’s offensive third to give the Badgers the lead.“I think [defenseman] Joana [Bielefeld] went up and flicked it on, and I was just standing in the middle of the goal wide open and it bounced right to me,” Nosbusch said. “Basically everyone else did all the work; I was just in the right place at the right time.”The team fought hard as the Nittany Lions never stopped pressing into the Badgers’ defensive end. Although the offense was able to produce a goal, it was the defense and senior goalie Michele Dalton who kept the Badgers in the game.“Whenever we have a zero next to their score, we have done our job,” Dalton said. “I am happy with the shutout.”Dalton made several diving saves throughout the game to keep the ball out of the Badgers’ net. In the 67th minute of the game, Dalton was barely able to get a hand on the ball as she punched the PSU’s shot over the crossbar.“The one that [Michele] tipped over the bar is the game-changer,” Wilkins said. “She has been doing that throughout the season and did it today.”Dalton’s impressive seven saves in Saturday’s game took much pressure off the offense, which knew it only had to score once.“As always, she is an amazing goalkeeper,” Nosbusch said. “Any time she can get a shutout, it makes our job easier. It gives us a lot of confidence knowing that, even if we mess up.”Aiding Dalton’s strong performance was the strong Badger defensive line. UW was able to maintain control in the back as it battled some of the top offensive players in the country. The Nittany Lions were able out-shoot the Badgers 12-6, but failed to turn any into a score.“I think we were coherent enough that we were all moving at the same pace and were all covering each other,” senior defenseman and captain Meghan Flannery said. “We trusted each other, so I think it was hard for them to penetrate our back line.”Wisconsin maintained composure throughout the game, something it lacked in its last game against Central Michigan Wednesday night.“I think the back line has always been our rock, and for some reason we have sort of lost that a bit in the past week,” Dalton said. “But I think we found it back and know what it feels like now.”Although the Badgers were able to hold off the Nittany Lions, several close calls due to penalties and handballs near the box kept the game within PSU’s reach. With two minutes remaining in the first half, the Nittany Lions had two opportunities to score from free kicks right outside the 18-yard box. However, UW narrowly escaped without being scored on when one kick hit the post and the other was saved by Dalton.Emotions also ran high for both squads Saturday. After an ugly battle for an air ball between Wisconsin’s junior midfielder Alev Kelter and Penn State goalie Erin McNulty left both players shaken up, the game intensified and players did not back down.“It was a good start to the Big Ten, which is always a physical conference,” Nosbusch said. “It kept us emotionally charged.”Free kicks were taken in high numbers. Both teams battled hard as the game became increasingly intense and physical. Four Badger players received yellow cards throughout the game, as did two of Penn State’s players.“Some of that was fatigue from us playing Wednesday,” Wilkins said. “It was a little bit more challenging for us being tired, and I just thought we brought the mentality that we were going to win balls and not let them settle it.“They are a great technical team and a great tactical team with their spacing, so we wanted to make sure that they didn’t have any clear possessions.”A factor that set the UW offense apart was the long flip throws from junior defender Lindsey Johnson near the PSU goal. It was this tactic that ultimately gave Nosbusch her opportunity to score.“Lindsey Johnson did her flip throw and it was her best one of the game,” Nosbusch said. “The defense has to worry about giving us a throw in down there because of the threat of a long throw.”Ultimately, the group effort allowed the Badgers to come away with a victory and be able to look ahead to their road trip with confidence.“[We] saw a lot more heart on the field today than we have in the past week with our play,” Dalton said. “I was really happy to see that, and moving forward, I hope we will continue.”
ONE of Donegal’s top restaurants had to be evacuated last night after a fire alert.No-one was injured when a grill vent at the Firebox Grill went up in smoke.Staff and patrons at the restaurant – part of the award-winning Railway Tavern in Fahan – were forced to leave the premises. “Apologies to all our customers who we evacuted earlier due to a fire in our grill vent,” said a spokesman.“The restaurant reopens for normal business on Friday at 5pm.”One customer told donegaldaily.com: “The last thing you expect at a restaurant called the firebox grill is for there to actually be a fire in the grill.“The staff were brilliant and thankfully the fire was put out very quickly.” Damage was limited and patrons were able to return to the bar area of the popular premises before closing time last night. TOP DONEGAL RESTAURANT EVACUATED AFTER FIRE ALERT was last modified: April 13th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:TOP DONEGAL RESTAURANT EVACUATED AFTER FIRE ALERT