Investors demand strong climate change action

money-pink-floydWhile many governments are slow to action, nearly 200 investors from around the world – led by Sir Nicholas Stern – are demanding strong climate change action as they see warming temperatures as a threat to the global economy.

As the United Nations Environment Program notes : ” The world’s largest global investors issued a joint call today for strong action this year from international policy makers in the fight against global warming. ”

” (…) Signed by 181 investors collectively managing more than $13 trillion in assets, today’s investor statement is the largest of its kind on climate change in world history. “

The UNEP statement goes on :

Co-ordinated by four leading investor groups on climate change the US-based Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Investors Group on Climate Change (IGCC) in Australia and New Zealand and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) operating globally, the statement formalizes the private sector’s requirement for a strong, binding framework to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

Investors released the statement at an all-day International Investor Forum on Climate Change hosted by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and keynoted by British economist Lord Nicholas Stern.

“Unmitigated climate change poses a threat to the global economy, said Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics and Special Adviser to the Group Chairman of HSBC on Economic Development and Climate Change.

“But building a low carbon economy creates opportunities for investment in new technologies that promise to transform our society in the same way as the introduction of electricity or railways did in the past.”

TreeHugger provides us more details :

Bolstering the case that fighting climate change isn’t just sound environmental policy, but that it’s good business policy as well, a group of over 100 of the world’s largest investors have released a policy statement urging strong action to prevent global warming.

Leading the call was economist Lord Nicholas Stern, who said “building a low carbon economy creates opportunities for investment in clean technologies that promise to transform our society in the same way as…electricity or railways did in the past.”

Here’s specifically what the policy statement recommends:

  • A global target for emission reductions by 2050, based on a 1990 baseline, of 50-85%
  • In developed nations emission reductions of 25-40% by 2020, and 80-95% by 2050.
  • Developing country action plans that deliver measurable and verifiable emission reductions.
  • Government support for energy efficient and low carbon technology.
  • Measures that support the move to an effective global carbon market.
  • Revisions to the Clean Development Mechanism to ensure real, permanent and verifiable emission reductions.
  • Public financing mechanisms that leverage private sector finance for investment in developing countries.
  • Measures to reduce deforestation and promote afforestation.
  • Support for adaptation to unavoidable climate change impacts.

Business & Science Align, But Politics Prevents Action
So pretty much what scientists and many environmental policy specialists have been saying repeatedly in the past 12 months, and all solid recommendations.

The thing that really grabs me though is the fact that with less than three months to go until the COP15 talks this sort of reiteration has to go on — specifically in terms of emission reduction targets.

The developing world says they support the sort of short- to mid-term cuts recommended here and will participate in a global agreement if the rich world agrees to them.

Climate scientists say that these are what are needed to keep global temperature rise below 2°C. Now, a whole slew of bottom-line thinking business people say this is what is needed, and it will be profitable to make them.

Yet, with few exceptions, the rich countries of the world can’t get past their fear of losing economic privilege — even though by all indications that won’t happen — and do what both environmental and economic science says the moment and the future needs.

I think now this is clear, even Big Business wants strong climate change action. If people with $13 trillion (8.8 trillion euros) in their pockets aren’t heard, who our representatives will listen to ?

As the UNEP statement notes, climate change mitigation represents many opportunities for businesses around the world. Whether in energy efficiency or low carbon energy sources, afforestation, high speed rail and many other sectors, there are billions to be made and million of jobs to be created !

Let’s hope this huge call for action will be followed by action in Copenhagen !

[Image credit : Flickr, TW Collins]

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