Latest Developments, September 30

In the latest news and analysis…

Partial pullout
Agence France-Presse reports that the US is hoping to keep “around 10,000” troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014:

“But a new security agreement is needed to allow for the post-2014 presence, including provisions allowing the United States access to various bases.
‘We’re working with President Karzai and his government to get that bilateral security agreement completed and signed,’ [US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel] said.

But Karzai has insisted Afghanistan would not be rushed over the negotiations and has even hinted that an agreement might not be finalised before presidential elections in April next year.”

Historic call
The Associated Press calls last week’s telephone conversation between the US and Iranian presidents “one of the most hopeful steps toward reconciliation in decades”:

“[Iranian President Hassan Rouhani], at a news conference in New York, linked the U.S. and Iran as ‘great nations,’ a remarkable reversal from the anti-American rhetoric of his predecessors, and he expressed hope that at the very least the two governments could stop the escalation of tensions.
The new Iranian president has repeatedly stressed that he has ‘full authority’ in his outreach to the U.S., a reference to the apparent backing by Iran’s ultimate decision-maker, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Such support would give Rouhani a political mandate that could extend beyond the nuclear issue to possible broader efforts at ending the long estrangement between Tehran and Washington — and the West in general.”

Weather forecast
The Guardian reports that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is only slightly less grim than its 2007 predecessor:

“East Africa can expect to experience increased short rains, while west Africa should expect heavier monsoons. Burma, Bangladesh and India can expect stronger cyclones; elsewhere in southern Asia, heavier summer rains are anticipated. Indonesia may receive less rainfall between July and October, but the coastal regions around the south China Sea and Gulf of Thailand can expect increased rainfall extremes when cyclones hit land.

Life in many developing country cities could become practically unbearable, given that urban temperatures are already well above those in surrounding countryside. Much higher temperatures could reduce the length of the growing period in some parts of Africa by up to 20%, the report said.”

Not letting go
While calling for French troops to “restore security” in the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui, International Crisis Group’s Thierry Vircoulon concedes that France is not exactly a neutral broker in its former colony:

“France has had an almost continuous military presence in CAR since the country gained independence in 1960, and it deployed 400 soldiers at the start of the current crisis to secure the airport.

Paradoxically, France, while securing Bangui’s airport, is also hosting ousted president [François Bozizé], who declared from exile in Paris his wish to retake power by force with the ‘support’ of private actors.”

Exported problem
The Washington Post reports on a new study that suggests the expiration of America’s assault weapons ban has had a “striking” impact on Mexico’s violence levels:

“Overall, our preferred estimates indicate that the annual additional deaths due to [the expiration of the ban] represent around 21% of all homicides and 30% of all gun-related homicides in the post-intervention sample, which are sizable magnitudes. … For total homicides there is a clear, sharp rise between 2004 and 2005 and the effect mostly persists through 2006. The results for gun-related homicides is noisier, but the same pattern is reproduced here as well.”

Tax justice
During a speech delivered at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan called for a “credible and effective multilateral response” to tax avoidance:

“Ladies and Gentleman, we must recognise that instances of bad behaviour by government officials and businesses are made possible by our legal and normative frameworks. This is a key area where the international community can make a difference.
Let us be clear: Tax avoidance may be legal, yes, but its extremes have become immoral, unconscionable, and unacceptable. Tax avoidance may once have been seen as an acceptable and standard business practice. But it now costs Africa more than it receives in either international aid or direct foreign investment.

The UK and the European Union are re-examining legislation on money laundering and transparent company ownership. I sincerely hope that they will make company registration public, easily accessible and open to all, and that these registries will extend also to trusts. We must shut down loopholes wherever we can and wherever they are.
I also encourage the British government to maintain its pressure on its overseas territories and Crown dependencies. The US government may also wish to pressure the state of Delaware.”

UNsuable
NBC News asks why it is impossible to sue the United Nations, even when the organization triggers a deadly epidemic, as it appears to have done in Haiti:

“In 1946, the year of its first General Assembly, the U.N. granted itself legal immunity as one of its first official acts. Member states signed a ratifying treaty, and that immunity has been endorsed separately by laws passed in many member states.
‘You can’t sue the United Nations in a domestic court or any court because governments have signed the treaty and some countries like the U.S. have even put it in domestic legislation,’ explained Larry Johnson, a former U.N. official who teaches international law at Columbia Law School.”

Arrest threat
The Kenyan Post reports that the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor has no intention of granting special treatment to Kenya’s Deputy President Willaim Ruto:

In an application she made on Thursday to the Appeals Chamber, [ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda] asked the chamber to reject Ruto’s request that his trial continues in his absence.
She has also warned Mr Ruto of arrest if he fails to show up at The Hague as is required under the Rome Statute and affirmed by the Appeals Chamber.
‘The prosecution notes that Mr Ruto is not here voluntarily, but on compulsion of a summon and risks arrest if he defaults. He is an accused person before the court and, while presumed innocent, cannot expect that life will continue as normally,’ Bensouda said.”

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Latest Developments, July 16

In the latest news and analysis…

Free hand
Le Monde reports that the UN and France have signed an agreement granting “freedom of action” to French troops in Mali:

“The text, according to a diplomat, is reminiscent of the mandate for France’s Operation Unicorn in Côte d’Ivoire, whose intervention under UN auspices precipitated the fall of Laurent Gbagbo in 2011.

Before calling for French back-up, the text stresses however, that UN peacekeepers ‘must do all they can’ to resolve a crisis. In the case of an intervention, French support will be ‘direct or indirect, by land or air, within the limits of both its capacities and the deployment of its units.’
Paris, which ‘wants to keep a free hand,’ according to a diplomatic source, will have ‘the choice of means, numbers and location.’ The French army has bases in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Chad. It can also mobilize reinforcements from France, according to the same source.” [Translated from the French.]

American justice
The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates argues that a Florida court’s acquittal of a man who shot and killed an unarmed African-American youth was unjust but neither surprising nor, given the current state of the law, wrong:

“It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American justice itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended. To expect our juries, our schools, our police to single-handedly correct for this, is to look at the final play in the final minute of the final quarter and wonder why we couldn’t come back from twenty-four down.
To paraphrase a great man: We are what our record says we are. How can we sensibly expect different?”

Avoiding tax reform
The Guardian reports that the US has blocked a French proposal for the G20 to crack down on tax avoidance by digital companies:

“Senior officials in Washington have made it known they will not stand for rule changes that narrowly target the activities of some of the nation’s fastest growing multinationals, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

While the Americans concede that the rules need to be updated, they are understood to be pushing for moderate change. They are believed to want tweaks to the existing wording of international tax treaties rather than the creation of wholly new passages dedicated to spelling out how the digital economy should be taxed.”

1,000 days of cholera
The Economist reports on the UN’s ongoing controversial handling of the cholera epidemic its MINUSTAH peacekeepers triggered in Haiti in 2010:

“Critics argue that the UN’s stance is tantamount to claiming impunity—that the UN, an organisation whose mission involves promoting the rule of law, is putting itself above it.

The UN has staunchly refused to entertain the cholera claims in any venue. Its letter to the claimants’ lawyers eschewed their proposals to meet, engage a mediator, or establish an alternative venue to hear the complaints. Whereas [UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s] letter to congressmen said that ‘the majority of [the] recommendations’ made by a UN panel of experts to avoid future epidemics were being implemented, a report by a United States-based non-profit group in May found that five of the seven recommendations were only partially implemented, or not at all. And although the UN launched an initiative to fight cholera in Haiti in January 2012, the programme is already falling short: Mr Ban’s letter stated that pledges for the cholera initiated amounted to $207m, $31m less than the UN said would be available last December. It is another failure that by now will hardly surprise the people of Haiti.”

Hunger bill
Princeton University’s Paul Krugman takes aim at the “awesome double standard” of the “monstrous” farm bill passed by the US House of Representatives last week:

“Farm subsidies became a fraud-ridden program that mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals. Meanwhile food stamps became a crucial part of the social safety net.
So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies — at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed — while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.
To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: ‘You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people’s money’ — frequently, at this point, they add the words ‘at the point of a gun’ — ‘and force them to give it to the poor.’
It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people’s money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.”

Broken ships
The Guardian explores the dangerous and environmentally harmful shipbreaking industry, which supplies much of the world’s recycled steel:

“One of the problems is steel is a commodity sold in international markets, making it very difficult to trace where it came from by the time it turns up in a consumer product. Improved supply chain transparency would help but would be difficult to manage in any practical way, said [Shipbreaking Platform’s Patrizia] Heidegger, who suggested flipping the problem on its head: make the ship’s owners responsible for ensuring that their products are recycled properly once they are finished with them.

The EU recently voted on regulations that require EU-registered ships to use ‘green’ recycling facilities, but the new rules miss a crucial point, said Heidegger: there is nothing to stop European owners re-registering their ships outside the EU before sending them for breaking. At the moment only around a tenth of vessels are flying European flags when they reach the end of their lives, even though around 40% of the world’s fleet is owned by European companies, she said.”

Dangerous objects
The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri mocks the security measures undertaken at a Texas Senate debate over proposed changes to the state’s abortion laws:

“Among the latest updates from the Unwanted Texas Efforts To Pass Stringent Anti-Abortion Legislation came the gem that the state senate security was confiscating tampons from spectators entering the gallery to watch debate on HB 2. Guns, of course, were still allowed in the gallery for those with concealed carry licenses.”

Latest Developments, May 9

In the latest news and analysis…

Democratic castration
Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang argues that the imposition of austerity has turned the present into “nothing less than crunch time for democracy” in Europe:

“In particularly difficult economic times, it was even argued, we need to insulate economic policies from politics altogether. Latin American military dictatorships were justified in such terms. The recent imposition of ‘technocratic’ governments, made up of economists and bankers who have not been ‘tainted’ by politics, on Greece and Italy comes from the same intellectual stable.
What free-market economists are not telling us is that the politics they want to get rid of are none other than those of democracy itself. When they say we need to insulate economic policies from politics, they are in effect advocating the castration of democracy.”

New boss
The Guardian reports that the World Trade Organization has chosen its next head, with the selection process mirroring the rich-poor divide that has left the Doha round of trade talks stalled for years:

“Ultimately, [Roberto] Azevêdo won the backing of a majority of the WTO’s 159 members, despite a lack of support from many rich countries.
‘Had [Herminio] Blanco won – with transatlantic support behind him, plus the support of Japan and Korea – it would have looked like another rich-country stitch-up of an international [organisation] job, and that would have been very unhelpful in terms of getting progress at the WTO,’ says [the University of St Gallen’s Simon] Evenett. ‘In that sense, the outcome that we have is good for the organisation.’

He added: ‘We all wish him well, but what can he do to change negotiating positions in national capitals? The answer is not much.’ ”

The Corruptors
Inter Press Service reports on some of the reactions to revelations of “bags of cash” being given by the CIA to Afghan President Hamid Karzai:

“While the United States preaches ‘good governance’ to developing countries at the United Nations, says one African diplomat, ‘it has been doing the reverse in its own political backyard’.
And good governance not only includes multi-party democracy, rule of law and a free press but also transparent and corruption-free regimes.
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), told IPS, ‘If the U.S. ever stood for good government and democracy, it does not any longer.’ ”

Tainted profits
Norway has announced it has dropped an American and a Chinese tobacco producer from the government pension fund:

“The Ministry of Finance has decided to exclude Schweitzer-Mauduit International Inc. and Huabao International Holdings Limited based on the recommendation from the Council on Ethics. In accordance with the guidelines, the decision to exclude is made public once the shares are sold.”

More bodies
The BBC reports that the death toll at the collapsed Bangladeshi garment factories, which supplied a number of Western retailers, has now risen above 800:

“Authorities are continuing to search the rubble for more bodies two weeks after the Rana Plaza building collapsed on 24 April.

Officials say about 2,500 people were injured in the collapse and that 2,437 people have been rescued.

The EU has said it is considering ‘appropriate action’ to encourage an improvement in working conditions in Bangladesh factories.”

Outsourcing lethality
Foreign Policy’s Micah Zenko writes about a particular kind of extrajudicial killing that eliminates perceived enemies of the US but “more easily masks US involvement and culpability” compared to drone strikes:

“However, if you’re concerned by the Obama administration’s targeted killing policies, don’t overlook similar attacks conducted by allies and partners who receive U.S. money, weapons, or actionable intelligence. When the United States provides other states or non-state actors with the capabilities that enable lethal operations — without which they would not happen — it bears primary responsibility for the outcome. Whatever drone strike reforms the White House offers, or if additional congressional hearings are held, they must take into account America’s troubling role in client-state targeted killings.”

Gun crazy
ProPublica reports that the majority of US states are enacting legislation that renders federal gun controls irrelevant or illegal:

“Kansas’ ‘Second Amendment Protection Act’ backs up its states’ rights claims with a penalty aimed at federal agents: when dealing with ‘Made in Kansas’ guns, any attempt to enforce federal law is now a felony. Bills similar to Kansas’ law have been introduced in at least 37 other states. An even broader bill is on the desk of Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell. That bill would exempt any gun owned by an Alaskan from federal regulation. In Missouri, a bill declaring federal gun laws ‘null and void’ passed by an overwhelming majority in the state house, and is headed for debate in the senate.”

Petroleum myth
The Globe and Mail reports that former US vice-president Al Gore does not buy the argument that oil is more “ethical” if produced in democratic countries:

“ ‘There’s no such thing as ethical oil,’ he said. ‘There’s only dirty oil and dirtier oil.’ The remark triggered applause from a nearly full house at the Globe-sponsored event at a Ryerson University auditorium.

While noting that the U.S. needed to change to remove the demand for Canadian oil, Mr. Gore also said: ‘I had hoped that Canada would point the way toward a better path, but as yet it has not.’ ”

Latest Developments, May 8

In the latest news and analysis…

Business as usual
Inter Press Service reports that UN experts have found that American corporations show “little appreciation” of human rights in their operations both at home and abroad:

“ ‘The U.S. government has committed to the [UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights], and established a number of key initiatives in this regard,’ the Working Group’s Michael Addo stated Wednesday, when he and [Puvan] Selvanathan unveiled their early observations here in Washington.
‘[But] it is now facing the challenge of putting them into practice, across all departments, ensuring that this is done in a coherent and effective way, and in a way that makes a real difference to people on the ground.’ ”

Mining diplomacy
The Toronto Star reports that the Canadian government is being accused of providing “active and unquestioning support” to a mining company linked to the murder of an activist in Mexico:

“The study, made available by [MiningWatch Canada] to the Star and La Presse, is based on 900 pages of documents obtained through Access to Information from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade about its dealings with Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration.

‘It’s not that we’re saying that the embassy doesn’t have a mandate to support Canadian economic interests,’ said Jennifer Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch and a co-author of the report. ‘In part, that is what they are supposed to do.
‘But Canadian embassies around the world are supposed to ensure the protection of individual and collective human rights—and that is just as important to us as Canadians.’”

No change of heart
The Tax Justice Network argues reports that Swiss banks have agreed to increased openness are greatly exaggerated:

“And we know this from a short sentence in the [Reuters] story, citing Patrick Odier, head of the Swiss Bankers’ Association:
‘We should no longer categorically reject an automatic exchange of information,’ he said. ‘But it should be introduced globally.’
It’s that bit in bold that is the give-away. In other words, we won’t do anything until everyone else has. Which, snigger snigger, will never happen. This is the classic ‘level playing field argument’ that we at TJN have seen time and time again, as justification for inaction.”

Printed weapons
The BBC reports that a gun made with 3D printer technology has been fired in the US for the first time:

“The controversial group which created the firearm, Defense Distributed, plans to make the blueprints available online.
The group has spent a year trying to create the firearm, which was successfully tested on Saturday at a firing range south of Austin, Texas.
Anti-gun campaigners have criticised the project.
Europe’s law enforcement agency said it was monitoring developments.”

Imperial aid
The University of Amsterdam’s Antonio Carmona Báez argues that understanding Bolivia’s expulsion of the US Agency for International Development requires a “de-colonial reading of development”:

“USAID belongs to the host of organs that were initiated by US president Harry Truman’s post-war Point Four Programme. The agency responds directly to the US Secretary of State and is closely monitored by the Department of Defence. While much of the discourse around USAID action highlights the terms sustainable development, elimination of poverty and international cooperation, military intervention and imposed foreign policy has marked the history of US foreign aid since the Cold War in Bolivia and throughout the Global South generally. USAID Office of Military Affairs and its Civic-Military Programme have been responsible for the funding of counter-insurgency practices in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and continuing the ‘global war on terrorism’ introduced by George W. Bush and sustained by current president Barak Obama. Recently, the Associated Press has revealed the agency’s meddling in Bolivia’s internal political affairs by providing ‘building democracy grants’ to groups that oppose the Morales government.”

Rocky relations
The Washington Post reports that even those Mongolians who are seeing some benefits from a massive Rio Tinto copper and gold project have concerns about the Anglo-Australian mining giant’s activities in their country:

“Puntsag Tsagaan, the president’s chief of staff, says he doesn’t want to see his country turned into Minegolia. Mineral wealth should be exploited cautiously and benefit the people, he says: ‘It does not have to be unlocked in a generation.’

In addition to the complaint about a cost blowout, the government says the company should have paid taxes last year and needs greater financial transparency.
In his speech to parliament on Feb. 1, [President Tsakhia] Elbegdorj wasn’t just bluffing. A few days later, his government briefly froze Rio Tinto’s bank accounts.

[Aimtan] Ulam-Badrakh says that he is glad Oyu Tolgoi is being developed but that he also has reservations. ‘Foreigners cannot just dig up the land, take away our wealth and leave us with a big hole in the ground,’ he says. ‘It has to be beneficial for foreigners and the Mongolian people.’ ”

Misplaced priorities
Humanosphere reports that Médecins Sans Frontières believes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s promotion of vaccines prioritizes drug industry profits over saving lives:

[MSF’s Kate] Elder said the problem is we don’t know how much money [pharmaceutical companies] are making since industry refuses to open its books. MSF, which is a member of the GAVI alliance, had asked drug industry partners to show the actual costs of drug development and production so the consortium can see that the profits are modest. Industry, and the GAVI leadership, Elder said, refused to incorporate this into the Global Vaccine Action Plan – an over-arching strategy led by a group convened by the Gates Foundation called the Decades of Vaccine Collaboration.
‘We’d like to see more of this information made public,’ said Elder, referring to both the price calculations as well as the development of global vaccine policy.”

Latest Developments, April 18

In the latest news and analysis…

Radical revision
The New York Times editorial board calls the US Supreme Court’s decision in a case pitting Nigerian plaintiffs against oil giant Shell “a giant setback for human rights”:

“The court declared that a 1789 law called the Alien Tort Statute does not allow foreigners to sue in American courts to seek redress ‘for violations of the law of nations occurring outside the United States.’

But Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said that even where claims of atrocities ‘touch and concern the territory of the United States, they must do so with sufficient force’ to overcome a presumption that the statute does not apply to actions outside this country.
That presumption radically revises and undermines the way the statute has been applied for a generation. It has been limited by the types of human rights abuses it covers — but not by where they take place. The effect is to greatly narrow the statute’s reach.”

Silver lining
Reuters’s Alison Frankel writes, however, that human rights lawyers found some glimmers of hope in the Kiobel ruling:

“In the concurrence, [Justice Stephen] Breyer disputed the majority’s presumption against the extraterritoriality of the [Alien Tort Statute], though he agreed that the Nigerians’ case does not belong in U.S. courts. He laid out a different standard for ATS litigation: ‘I would find jurisdiction under this statute where (1) the alleged tort occurs on American soil, (2) the defendant is an American national, or (3) the defendant’s conduct substantially and adversely affects an important American national interest, and that includes a distinct interest in preventing the United States from becoming a safe harbor … for a torturer or other common enemy of mankind.’ ”

Senators heart guns
Former US Congresswoman and shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords excoriates the senators who have voted against increased gun control:

“We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

The senators who voted against background checks for online and gun-show sales, and those who voted against checks to screen out would-be gun buyers with mental illness, failed to do their job.
They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.”

Big debarment
The Globe and Mail reports that the World Bank has banned Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin and 100 of its subsidiaries from bidding on World Bank contracts for the next 10 years:

“The World Bank’s announcement about SNC, which was made Wednesday, also expanded the list of countries where the embattled engineering company has been accused of corruption. The bank said it has uncovered evidence that SNC conspired to bribe public officials in Cambodia and that it has passed that information along to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who are already probing the company’s activities in Libya, Algeria and Bangladesh.
The 10-year prohibition was negotiated between the company and the bank and is the largest debarment that a company has agreed to as part of a settlement since the bank began sanctioning firms that seek to corrupt public officials.”

US torture
A new report by the Constitution Project alleges it is “indisputable” that the US practiced torture after the 9/11 attacks:

“The sweeping, 577-page report says that while brutality has occurred in every American war, there never before had been ‘the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.’ ”

Bad guest
A group of NGOs is calling on Canadian mining company Infinito Gold to stop its “decade-long harassment” of Costa Rica’s people and government, harassment they say includes the new threat of a $1 billion lawsuit:

“The [Costa Rican] courts told the Canadian company it could not develop the Crucitas mine, and told Infinito to pack up and go.
Instead of leaving, the company ratcheted-up a campaign of intimidation, attempting to censor a University of Costa Rica course focussed on the mining project and launching defamation suits against two professors and three other Costa Ricans who have spoken out publicly about the potential impact that this mining activity could have on a fragile environment.”

A tale of two archipelagos
The Guardian reports that a controversial UK official is going from administering the Chagos Islands, all of whose inhabitants Britain deported decades ago, to governing the Falkland Islands, for whose inhabitants Britain went to war a few years later:

“A US embassy cable published in the Guardian in December 2010 quoted a senior Foreign Office official, Colin Roberts, telling the Americans that as a result of imposing the marine reserve, there would be no ‘human footprints’ or ‘Man Fridays’ on the islands.
He said the plan would ‘in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents’, according to the cable.
The case is the first resulting from the leak of classified US cables in which UK officials have been ordered to appear.
Roberts, commissioner of the [British Indian Ocean Territory] at the time of his meeting with US officials in May 2009, will take up a new post next year as governor of the Falkland Islands, the high court heard on Monday.”

Carbon bubble
Environmental author Duncan Clark asks if we “can we bring ourselves to prioritise a safe planet over cheap fuels, flights, power and goods”:

“Blithely ignoring the fact that there is already far more accessible fuel than can be safely burned, pension fund managers and other investors are allowing listed fossil fuel companies to spend the best part of $1tn a year (comparable to the US defence budget, or more than $100 for every person on the planet) to find and develop yet more reserves.
If and when we emerge from this insanity, the carbon bubble will burst and those investments will turn out to have been as toxic as sub-prime mortgages. Don’t take my word for it. HSBC analysts recently concluded that oil giants such as BP – beloved of UK pension funds – could have their value cut in half if the world decides to tackle climate change. Coal companies can expect an even rougher ride, and yet our financial regulators still allow them to float on stock markets without mentioning in their share prospectuses that their assets may soon need to be written off.”