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.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has been charged with making “insulting acts against a match official” following his comments on social media about the Champions League tie with Manchester United.The 27-year-old called the decision to award United a 94th-minute penalty in the match on 7 March “a disgrace”.Marcus Rashford scored to ensure a 3-1 win and the Premier League side went through to the Champions League quarter-finals on away goals after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate. The penalty was awarded through VAR after referee Damir Skomina had initially given United a corner when Diogo Dalot’s shot struck Presnel Kimpembe and went over the crossbar.Skomina received a signal to check for a possible handball in the box and subsequently changed his decision.Neymar missed both legs of the tie through injury but wrote in an Instagram post that the penalty “doesn’t exist”.He added: “Four guys who know nothing about football watch a slow-motion replay in front of the television.”A hearing date is yet to be confirmed.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development has continued to intensify its youth peace and reconciliation dialogues among young people in political parties and statutory youth organizations. The dialogue was held to develop a sense of oneness among young people from different political intuitions as well as to garner their opinions on the lessons learned during the first round of the 2017 elections and how these lessons can be used to inform decisions during the runoff and future elections to prevent electoral violence.The second regional youth peace dialogue was held at the Bomi County Community College in Tubmanburg Bomi County over the weekend and brought together 75 young people from Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Montserrado and Bomi counties, representing six political parties. The parties included the Coalition for Democratic Change, Unity Party, Liberty Party, Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction, Alternative National Congress and the All Liberian Party. Leaders from the Federation of Liberian Youth, Liberia National Student Union and the Mano River Union Youth Parliament also participated in the dialogue.This dialogue, according to a NAYMOTE press release, will be held around the country to advance peace and reconciliation efforts, build mutual relationships among young people from different political parties, increase the participation of young people in the country’s post-election governance process, ensure young people remain actively engaged with the political and democratic process after the elections, and understand best practices and lessons learned through the various legal and democratic exchanges through a lessons-learned forum.Participants at the dialogue expressed concern over the ongoing election dispute legal cases between the Liberty Party and the National Elections Commission (NEC), the rates of invalid votes during the first round, alleged incompetence of poll workers, returns of election results (Article 83 C), hearings based on complaint regulation and due process as well as mitigating the risks of electoral violence.Young political leaders at the dialogue also noted that the NEC, political parties and citizens need to take into consideration the following issues which they believe could hamper the rerun, runoff or even future elections: Constitutional crisis, voter apathy, acceptance of election results, publishing of the voter roll, recruitment and deployment of competent NEC polling staff, resolution of electoral disputes, independence of the Supreme Court to handle the election crisis.“Training and deployment of polling staff at polling centers and publishing of the voter roll are serious issues that need to be handled by the National Elections Commission in case there’s a rerun or runoff. It has caused us serious problems and we don’t want such situation to be repeated in the future. A credible election is dependent on a credible voters roll,” said James Crayton, a young political leader.“As leaders from different political parties, it’s time to drive the change we want to see. Let’s avoid violence and segregation, obey and respect the rule of law. Let’s encourage our brothers and sisters to respect the rule of law” said Olushola Kim Ekunede, a Unity Party youth leader.The participants stressed that young people need to remain law abiding, love one another, be patriotic, become more involved in the political process, be informed and tolerant, respect the rule of law, share the message of peace, avoid smear campaigns or inflammatory messages during the campaign and political process, seek legal redress and prioritize constructive engagements.“Let’s continuously share the message of peace and love of our dear country above everything else. This is the only way we can hold together as young people. I want to challenge every one of us here to always serve as ambassadors of peace,” said Yassah David, another young political leader.The participants also recommended that parties to the election dispute should work for an outcome that will preserve the peace; that the NEC should increase its efforts to improve how the public perceives it, and hire competent people to ensure the effectiveness of the administration of the electoral process, which is key to sustaining democracy in the postwar nation.NAYMOTE believes the project is creating the platform and opportunity for young people from across the political divide to mend relationships fractured as a result of political divisions and to forge a common front in engaging a post election governance process that promotes the interest of all young people.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)