London Stock Exchange Launches First Fund Under New Market for Carbon Credits
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London Stock Exchange Launches First Fund Under New Market for Carbon Credits

Foresight Sustainable Forestry, a U.K.-based investment fund that develops commercial forestland, is the first company to take part in the new voluntary carbon market

By KRISTIN BROUGHTON
Tue, Dec 13, 2022 8:48amGrey Clock 3 min

The London Stock Exchange Group PLC on Monday launched the first fund under its new market for carbon credits, which aims to provide capital to green projects and transparency in an opaque area of sustainable finance.

The new market offers a way for companies and investors to purchase carbon credits to offset emissions and meet net-zero commitments. Developers can raise funds through the exchange and use the money on projects to reduce greenhouse gasses. Companies and shareholders, in return for their investments, can receive carbon credits in lieu of cash dividends.

Companies can currently purchase carbon credits through brokers and private-market intermediaries. However, some companies find it difficult to get information about project developers and can struggle to identify specific projects—in areas such as forest protection or renewable energy—that fit their preferences, environmental lawyers said.

By launching the market the London Stock Exchange hopes to make it easier for companies and investors to access information about the projects that generate carbon credits, said Claire Dorrian, head of sustainable finance for the exchange’s capital markets and post-trade divisions. “I think the overarching principle behind all of this is transparency through disclosure,” Ms. Dorrian said.

Demand for credits in voluntary carbon markets is on the rise as more companies make net-zero commitments and position themselves as taking steps to improve the environment. Just under $2 billion in carbon credits were sold in 2021, up from $520 million a year earlier, according to Ecosystem Marketplace, which tracks data on environmental finance. By contrast, mandatory carbon markets in Europe and elsewhere force major polluters to limit their emissions.

Foresight Sustainable Forestry Co. PLC, a London-based investment firm, is the first company to take part in the new voluntary carbon market, the London Stock Exchange said Monday. Foresight invests in developing land for commercial forests, primarily in the U.K.

The company, which listed on the public markets in 2021, expects to raise additional funds in the year ahead using its Voluntary Carbon Market, or VCM, designation, meaning shareholders could elect to receive carbon credits in lieu of a cash dividend, said Richard Kelly, co-head of Foresight. “We’d be looking to attract companies, and ideally companies with science-based, net-zero pledges, to join us as shareholders,” Mr. Kelly said.

For the new market, developers must disclose the percentage of their total assets invested in eligible climate-change mitigation projects. They must also disclose the industry standards they use to certify their projects. Operating companies or investment funds on the exchange are eligible for the voluntary carbon market and must meet all other requirements for the market on which they are listed. London Stock Exchange Group also operates the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 indexes and provides financial data.

Companies are facing increasing pressure to disclose climate-related information from regulators and standard-setters across the globe. Finance departments, in particular, are taking on a bigger role when it comes to allocating capital toward carbon offsets and reporting on pollution. “It is becoming more of a financing function, more of a treasury responsibility,” Ms. Dorrian said.

Still, the new market could come with challenges for companies looking to invest. For instance, those interested in crafting a particular narrative about their green investments may find it hard to do so if the credits they receive are tied to several underlying projects, lawyers said.

Underlying demand among companies for purchasing credits through the exchange also remains an open question. “It’s maybe a question of, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” said Chris Staples, a partner at the law firm Linklaters LLP.

Ms. Dorrian, the London Stock Exchange’s head of sustainable finance, declined to provide a specific figure on the number of companies and funds the stock exchange expects to launch on the voluntary carbon market in the coming year. The new market represents a change in how companies currently buy carbon credits, and it takes time for funds and companies to raise new funds, she said.

“It’s going to take, I think, a little bit of time for the market to digest,” Ms. Dorrian said.



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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS
Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).

Postmortem

People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.

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