Swedish central bank sells bonds ‘for climate reasons’

Sweden's Riksbank has sold government bonds issued by Canadian and Australian states "for climate reasons", in one of the first cases of a central bank joining the global divestment movement.

Swedish central bank sells bonds 'for climate reasons'
The Bulga Coal complex in New South Wales, Australia. Photo: Glencore
Deputy Governor Martin Flodén revealed on Wednesday that the bank had in April divested itself of bonds issued by the Canadian province of Alberta, and more recently sold bonds issued by the Australian states of Queensland and Western Australia. 
“We will not invest in assets issued by issuers with a large climate footprint,” he explained in a speech at Örebro University on Wednesday.  “Australia and Canada are countries that are not known for good climate work. Greenhouse gas emissions per capita are among the highest in the world.” 
Flodén said the move followed a decision last year by the bank's executive board to take sustainability into account when making investment decisions. 
“We can contribute to the climate work to some extent by giving consideration to sustainability aspects when investing in the foreign exchange reserves,” Flodén said. “We are now doing this by rejecting issuers who have a large climate footprint.” 
Alberta's tar sands are some of the most polluting hydrocarbons in the world, while Queensland and Western Australia host some of the world's biggest coal mines. 
In a statement emailed to reporters, Christine Myatt, spokeswoman for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, insisted that Alberta had the “highest environmental standards in the world”.  
“If the Swedish central bank is really concerned with making a difference on climate change they need to be investing more in ethical producers such as Alberta which have shown dramatic gains in reducing emissions,” she said. 
The City of Örebro was the first Swedish city to commit to pull its funds out of fossil fuels, following the example of cities like San Francisco, Seattle and the Dutch town of Boxte.

In his speech, Flodén said he had doubts about taking a more active approach to sustainability, and investing foreign exchange reserves directly “in particularly climate-friendly assets, such as green bonds.” 
Sweden's reserves, he explained, are currently invested solely in government bonds, something the bank was reluctant to change.  
“This is partly to hold down financial risks, and partly because monetary policy, apart from determining the general interest-rate level, should disturb pricing on the financial markets as little as possible.” 
This means that central banks can only have a limited role in pushing the world towards a greener economy, he said. 
“This is entirely natural,” he said. “The important decisions on how climate change should be counteracted in Sweden are political and should be taken by the government and the parliament.”

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Central and southern Italy brace for storms and heavy snow

Storms and snowfall are forecast across much of central and southern Italy over the next few days, according to weather reports.

Snow is forecast in the hills of much of central and southern Italy.
Snow is forecast in the hills of much of central and southern Italy. Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Italy’s Civil Protection Department on Monday issued ‘orange’ alerts for bad weather along Campania’s Tyrrhenian coastline and the western part of Calabria, while Sicily, Basilicata, Lazio, Molise, Umbria, Abruzzo, central-western Sardinia, and the remaining areas of Campania and Calabria are under a lower-level ‘yellow’ weather warning.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts is warning Italy’s central-southern regions to prepare for a blast of polar air from the Arctic Circle that will bring heavy snowfall, rain and storms, reports national weather forecaster Il Meteo.

The village of Grotte di Castro in the province of Viterbo, two hours’ drive north of Rome, mountainous parts of Sardinia, and much of the province of Campobasso in the central-eastern region of Molise were already blanketed in snow on Monday morning.

The department is responsible for predicting, preventing and managing emergency events across the country, and uses a green, yellow, orange and red graded colour coding system for weather safety reports.

An orange alert signifies a heavy rainfall, landslide and flood risk, while a yellow alert warns of localised heavy and potentially dangerous rainfall.

The current meteorological conditions mean that snow is expected to reach unusually low altitudes of around 450-500 metres, with flakes already falling thickly on parts of the southern-central Apennines mountain range at 500-700 metres altitude.

The hills of Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Lazio, Sardinia, Campania, Calabria and Basilicata are likely to see heavy snow around the 500m mark, while areas at an altitude of 1000m or higher will see between 50-60 cm of fresh snow.

Affected parts of the country could see 50-60cm of snowfall.

Affected parts of the country could see 50-60cm of snowfall. Photo: Vincenzo PINTO /AFP

In areas where the snow is unlikely to reach, heavy rains and thunderstorms are anticipated, with rain forecast throughout Sardinia, Campania, Calabria and Lazio, reports Il Meteo.

Strong winds are forecast over the whole country, with the island regions of Sicily and Sardinia facing windspeeds of over 100km/hour and the risk of storm surges, according to the national newspaper La Repubblica.

READ ALSO: Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

The north of the country, meanwhile, will see sun but low temperatures of below 0°C at night in many areas, including across much of the Po Valley.

While conditions are expected to stabilise on Tuesday, cold currents from Northern Europe are forecast to trigger another wave of bad weather on Wednesday and Thursday, with Sardinia and Italy’s western coastline again at risk of storms and heavy rainfall that will move up towards Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto in the north.