Global Investing

Insuring African farmers against climate catastrophe

From floods to drought, microfinance companies are looking at ways for farmers in developing countries to cope better with the vagaries of climate change.

According to the Microcredit Summit Campaign, there were over 137 million very poor families worldwide with a microloan in 2010. The industry has grown increasingly sophisticated, though it has also gained a bad reputation in parts of the world for selling very high-interest loans to very poor people, with the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh curbing their use.

Microfinance companies are now looking to extend their reach with crop insurance in Africa. Small farmers in African countries cannot get regular crop insurance, but a successful project in India uses weather stations to calculate the weather and its possible impact on harvests within reach of those stations, working out claims automatically.

“The poor are suffering more because of climate change than anybody else,” says Scott Brown, president and CEO of microfinance company VisionFund International.

“The world is struggling with disaster insurance, it could be flood, drought, earthquake. The challenge is to try and get a product.”

from Chris Wickham:

Climate change is off the agenda in Dubai

The headline in the Gulf News English language daily reads 'UAE tops world on per capita carbon footprint'.

For a place so reliably bathed in sunlight, the Dubai property explosion seems to have generated enough construction noise to drown out the environmental debate raging elsewhere in the world.

For the first-time visitor, the scale of the global construction superlatives - The Palm, made from reclaimed land jutting out defiantly into the Gulf, the skyscrapers built in a region where there is no shortage of space - is staggering.

Water investments

A growing number of Investors, including state-owned funds, are looking to invest in water to benefit from efforts to tackle climate change.

According to multi-asset manager Armstrong Investment Managers, less than 0.01 percent of water is easily accessible freshwater and global water use has tripled since 1950 — increasing faster than the world’s population.

“Demographic and climate changes will lead to two thirds of the population inhabiting areas with scarce water,” the firm says.

How green is your investment?

Is your investment green enough?

A survey by consultancy firm Mercer, carbon data provider Trucost and environmental organisation WWF finds that greenhouse gas emissions from 118 UK-based investment management firms, with 206 billion pounds in assets under management, range from 209 to 1,487 tonnes per million pounds invested.

The report showed that the funds hold investment to 1.4 percent of the market capitalisation of 2,380 companies, which accounts for approximately 134 million tonnes of carbon emissions. These equate to 22 percent of UK greenhouse gas emissions.

Nine of the 10 main contributors to the overall carbon footprint of the portfolios are in the utilities and oil and gas sectors. The research includes in-depth analysis of the increasingly negative effects that carbon costs could have on carbon-intensive utilities and oil and gas companies.

More than a nice-to-have, buy-side considers its actions

More than a “nice to have,” investor sentiment is running heavily on the side of environment, social and governance (ESG) factors, according to the latest Thomson Reuters Perception Snapshot.

Feedback from 25 global buy-side investors found that 84 percent evaluate ESG criteria to some degree when making an investment decision.

The remaining 16 percent say ESG issues are not considered until a company’s ability to generate high returns is hindered by these factors.

Deflation to jump the shark?

The recent spate of shark attacks on Australian beaches could mark a turning point in global deflation and signal a change in fortunes for some beleaguered emerging economies, if Nomura strategist Sean Darby is to be believed.

Speaking at a Nomura investors forum, Darby said a chance sighting of a shark on Sydney’s famed Bondi Beach three weeks ago made him realise that prices of grain and other soft commodities — punished of late by global recession fears — could be due for a rebound.

“I actually saw a shark on Bondi Beach and that made me wonder about the impact of La Nina and how there’s a severe drought around the world at a time when many farmers are finding it hard to access credit,” said the Hong Kong-based analyst.