Global investors want nations to step up climate action
Katowice (Poland) : Global investors -- the single largest policy intervention from corporates on climate change -- on Monday called on governments around the world to step up action to address climate change.
A total of 415 investors, with $32 trillion in assets-under-management, were behind the call-to-action as signatories of the 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change.
Among specific policies, the investors requested the governments to "phase out thermal coal power", "put a meaningful price on carbon" and "phase out fossil fuel subsidies".
The statement reached global leaders as the UN's COP24 global climate change conference in Katowice entered its second week.
The investors asked governments to strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement and to enact policies to facilitate the world's transition to a low-carbon economy.
Three overarching priorities highlighted in the statement for global leaders to address were: Achieving the Paris agreement's goals, accelerating private sector investment into the low carbon transition and committing to improve climate-related financial reporting.
Investors highlighted the "ambition gap" that according to the UN exists between governments' commitments and what was needed to deliver on the goals of the Paris agreement in limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius and ensuring the necessary transition to a low-carbon economy.
They stressed their concern about the gap, noting consequences of an otherwise "unacceptably high temperature increase" and "substantial negative economic impacts".
Investors that signed the statement included some of the world's largest pension funds, asset managers and insurance companies, alongside faith-based groups, state treasurers and comptrollers, impact investors and venture capital funds.
The intervention came as findings of a recent UN report showed that nations must triple their efforts to meet their commitments under the Paris agreement.
Only weeks earlier the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 1.5 degrees Celsius special report showed that considerable additional emission reductions were achievable, delivering significant benefit to society and the climate.
Thomas P. DiNapoli of New York State Common Retirement Fund, responsible for a $207 billion pension fund, said: "Despite the misguided policies of the (US President Donald) Trump administration we are still in and remain committed to supporting the Paris agreement's climate goals."
"The transition to a low carbon economy presents numerous opportunities to create value and investors who ignore the changing world do so at their own peril," DiNapoli said.
Peter Damgaard Jensen, Chair of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and CEO of PKA, a Danish pension fund with $41 billion in assets, added: "There is no place for coal in the clean energy future that is essential to addressing climate change.
"It's therefore encouraging to see ever more countries set necessary dates for the phase out of coal."
(Vishal Gulati is in Katowice at the invitation of Climate Trends to cover the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)