A leading group of investors responsible for $32tn worth of funds has called upon world leaders and negotiators to take immediate action on climate change or risk the global economy facing collapse.
The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spurred many into action, and the United Nations (UN) is convening in Katowice, Poland for COP24, where world diplomats are involved in high-level climate talks.
Now, a statement from 415 investors known as The Investor Agenda (IA), which has control over a significant amount of capital, is calling for change. An investment vehicle of this size may be hard to ignore. The group said that governments need to act or risk the markets losing all stability, and it is waiting to see how world leaders respond.
The main complaint from the investors at present is that they believe that coal needs phased out of the power mix as a matter of priority. They are also pushing for it to be easier to invest in more renewable and low-carbon energy sources.
IA said that the agreements famously made in Paris in 2015 need to not only sustain but also move forward with much greater urgency. The deal saw setbacks when the US pulled out but, otherwise, all signatories are still around the table.
In a statement, IA said that it is ‘vital for our long-term planning and asset allocation decisions that governments work closely with investors to incorporate Paris-aligned climate scenarios into their policy frameworks.’ This is one of the most strongly-worded statements yet from a large investor group on climate change. It suggests that many investors believe in the need to act on the issue. The group does not feel that governments are unwilling to make changes, but it does believe that there are still too many barriers to moving capital in that direction.
Many countries and politicians have come out in the wake of the IPCC report to acknowledge the need for change, but it is likely that the climate will be a political football for a while yet. In Australia, a large battle in next year’s election should take place on energy policy as leaders vie for the top spot based on who can provide the best balance between affordable energy bills and action on climate.
The IA believes that there should not be much difficulty in finding this balance. It added that the economic positives that develop as a result will mean that those who ‘lead in implementing the Paris agreement and enacting strong climate policies will see significant economic benefits and attract increased investment that will create jobs in industries of the future.’
The investment vehicle includes pension funders, asset managers and some of the biggest insurers in the world, all of whom hold serious sway regarding the movement of capital. There has been some worry in the months following the IPCC report that refusal to move away from fossil fuels in the long term could negatively impact returns.
Other investment vehicles include The Investor Group on Climate Change, which represents clients in New Zealand and Australia and has an asset total of more than $2tn. It called for greater certainty on future government policy around the world so that it can make long-term investment decisions.