Climate change – School’s out
24 Apr 2019
Climate change can be a controversial subject. But I would never have expected it to be at the heart of the first ever national strike by school children which recently took place in over 60 towns and cities across the UK.
Climate change is affecting our future. Rising sea levels and increased temperatures are a major cause for concern. It is something I care passionately about. As someone born in the 1990s, it will be many decades before I start to draw my pension. It may sound trite, but I hope there’s a world left for me to enjoy it in.
Having lowered carbon emissions by 42% since 1990, the UK Government has made a good start at mitigating climate change, but there is still a long way to go. Hopefully the LGA Climate Local Initiative which aims to support councils reduce carbon emissions and increase resilience to a changing climate can have a positive impact for local authorities. However, on a global scale, the impact from the UK Government is small. Governments across the world must continue to mitigate climate change or we will struggle to see the benefits.
Looking around the country, we see a number of good examples, one of which is in my home town. Glasgow City Council has been promoting a Climate Week in recent years to raise awareness of climate issues in Scotland. There are lots of opportunities to promote action to mitigate climate change in future; many of these may be small but demand behavioural change.
One such action lies in ensuring that pension committees are doing their bit to understand the risks that climate change could bring for their schemes. This may be by questioning their investment managers about how climate change could affect asset returns. Or it could be by thinking somewhat more holistically and considering how funding arrangements could be affected. This is a question we will be exploring at next month’s PLSA conference and as we talk to pension committees about their valuation results.
Kids walking out of class en-masse just goes to show how passionately the younger generations feel about the prevention of climate change. The National Association of Head Teachers said, “Nothing is more important than education”, but maybe children are teaching us the lesson: now is the time to do something about climate risks and pension schemes are unlikely to be immune from change.
We all have our own opinions which we should be able to express freely, and, sometimes, to be heard, we may need to take a stance. Indeed, as I write, climate change protests are again hitting the headlines with Extinction Rebellion undertaking mock ‘die-ins’ and bridge swarmings in London and elsewhere.