March 5, 2015

Ohrn Words: The Risk of Stranded Assets

Ohrn picks this up in The Guardian.  From the Bank of England, for gawd’s sake:


Insurance companies could suffer a “huge hit” if their investments in fossil fuel companies are rendered worthless by action on climate change, the Bank of England warned on Tuesday.

“One live risk right now is of insurers investing in assets that could be left ‘stranded’ by policy changes which limit the use of fossil fuels,” said Paul Fisher, deputy head of the bank’s prudential regulation authority (PRA) that supervises banks and insurers and is tasked with avoiding systemic risks to the economy.

“As the world increasingly limits carbon emissions, and moves to alternative energy sources, investments in fossil fuels – a growing financial market in recent decades – may take a huge hit,” Fisher told an insurance conference. He said there “are already a few specific examples of this having happened”, but did not name them, and added that it was clear his concerns had yet to “permeate” the sector.

The new warning from one of the world’s key central banks follows a caution from its head Mark Carney that the “vast majority of [fossil fuel] reserves are unburnable” if climate change is to be limited to 2C, as pledged by the world’s governments. The bank will deliver a report to government on the financial risk posed by a “carbon bubble” later in 2015. …

Other senior financial figures have also warned of the risks to fossil fuel investments. Former US Treasury secretary Hank Paulson said in 2014: “When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy.”

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said: “Sooner rather than later, financial regulators must address the systemic risk associated with carbon-intensive activities in their economies.”

Full article here.


This constitutes a special warning for Canada and, in particular, British Columbia, whose leaders are betting the future on fossil fuels on one side and building hughway infrastructure on the other (not to mention, in this region, of then putting pressure on lands vulnerable to sea-level rise).

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  1. Well, they knew that investing in any business thing is risky when they got into it in the first place. If it’s going to be so bad, they should be selling their shares in the oil industry and buying shares in something that has a future.