The largest group of worldwide investors wants governments to quicken progress in battling climate change ahead of this week’s United Nations conference in Poland.
The 415-member Investor Agenda, which collectively manages more than $32 trillion in assets, has signed the 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change, which urges world governments to commit to a greener earth in line with the Paris Agreement’s mission.
The agreement, which President Donald Trump withdrew the US from last summer, aims to significantly reduce its pollutants to bring the climate temperature to “well below” 2°C above preindustrial levels, eventually capping the maximum point at 1.5°C above that level.
The group is proposing the accelerations because it is concerned the deal is already falling short of its goal. Investor Agenda has dubbed this the “ambition gap.”
The coalition said the full implementation of current nationally determined contributions would bring “an unacceptably high temperature increase that would cause substantial negative economic impacts.”
“This ambition gap is of great concern to investors and needs to be addressed, with urgency,” the statement reads. “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 and energy transition pathways.”
Additionally, the investors want companies to better report their climate-related financial information in order to price such risks and opportunities more effectively.
“That is why we welcome the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) and are taking practical steps to assist their implementation around the world,” wrote Investor Agenda.
Alongside the phasing out of coal and achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals, the group specifically wants policymakers to clamp down on the private sector, which is slower to adopt environmental, social, and government (ESG) investing strategies than their public counterparts. This is due to their shareholder obligations to enhance profits, among other things.
“Despite the misguided policies of the Trump Administration, global efforts to address the very real threat climate risk presents to the economy, financial markets, and investment returns are ongoing,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who oversees the $207 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. “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.”
Peter Damgaard Jensen, chair of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and CEO of Denmark’s PKA ($41 billion), pushed for coal’s elimination from portfolios in the “clean energy future.”
“Investors, including PKA, are moving out of coal in their droves given its devastating effects on the climate and public health, compounded by its poor financial performance,” Jensen said.