Deutsche Bank: “Human-made climate change is a serious long term threat”

Global financial giant Deutsche Bank has crushed the climate skeptics in a new paper released today, finding that “human-made climate change is already happening and is a serious long term threat.”  Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has the story.

The bank’s DB Climate Change Advisors, working with the Columbia Climate Center at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, reviewed the suite of skeptic claims “” that global warming is a hoax, natural, or good for people “” and found no evidence to support these contrarian positions. Mark Fulton, Global Head of Climate Change Investment Research for Deutsche Bank’s $7 billion in climate funds, concluded that trusting the skeptics “does not seem a gamble worth taking“:

The paper’s clear conclusion is that the primary claims of the skeptics do not undermine the assertion that human-made climate change is already happening and is a serious long term threat. . . .

Simply put, the science shows us that climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gases is a serious problem. Furthermore, due to the persistence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the lag in response of the climate system, there is a very high probability that we are already heading towards a future where warming will persist for thousands of years. Failing to insure against that high probability does not seem a gamble worth taking.

The paper itself, “Climate Change: Addressing the Major Skeptic Arguments,” refutes in short order the top skeptic and conspiracy theorist claims about climate science, including the Climategate smear campaign and purported IPCC errors, much in the style of John Cook’s excellent Skeptical Science website. Of most interest is its treatment of the claim that global warming is good for civilization:

Although adaptation is possible, historical shifts in climate have never occurred under conditions of such high human population numbers. Natural resources and ecosystems are already taxed and further climate perturbation is likely to be disruptive. Climate shifts in the past have frequently been accompanied by collapse of governments or extensive mortality. Increasing population pressure exacerbates the likelihood of pandemics and the destabilization of food-insecure regions can lead to failed states and threats to global security. Humans have survived numerous past changes in climate, but survival of the species is a poor measure of the true consequences and costs associated with adaptation to climate change.

Deutsche Bank is shifting its $700 billion in assets to address the dangers of global warming. “Coal is basically out of the game,” says Mark C. Lewis, Deutsche Bank’s managing director of its Global Carbon Markets desk. Deutsche Bank is financing wind farms in Minnesota, but the United States is largely being left behind.

“They’re asleep at the wheel on climate change, asleep at the wheel on job growth, asleep at the wheel on this industrial revolution taking place in the energy industry,” said Kevin Parker, global head the Deutsche Asset Management Division, about the United States government. Deutsche Bank is instead directing investment opportunities in Germany, Italy, Spain and China. Of Deutsche’s $7 billion expressly focused on climate investment, only $45 million is invested in the United States.

— Brad Johnson

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19 Responses to Deutsche Bank: “Human-made climate change is a serious long term threat”

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    Climate Activists Want Peaceful Ideas

    Frustrated by the stalled energy debate, environmentalists are turning to the grassroots for ideas,’s Ambreen Ali reports.

    Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network and are sending a joint letter asking their members to e-mail them ideas for direct action.

  2. catman306 says:

    When big international banks and insurance companies start coming to their senses, something will be done about CO2 emissions and all the other problems we talk about here. Thanks, Joe, for good news this morning.

    Now to get the US banks and insurance companies out of the coma they are in. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!

  3. Rockfish says:

    The US government isn’t asleep at the wheel – half of them want to drive over the cliff faster, and the other half have been paid to do nothing about it.
    Asleep implies a lack of attention. What we have is willful malice paid for by campaign contributions. There’s a big difference.

  4. Wit'sEnd says:

    Just wait till the insurance companies figure out that the trees are dying off – when the number of houses, cars and people crushed by falling branches becomes apparent in the claims.

    Add that to food shortages (EPA estimate in 1998 was 5 – 10 billion dollars annually lost in the US alone to ozone damaged crops) and maybe people will make the connection to the real cost of burning fuel.

  5. Leif says:

    Leonard Cohan has a revolutionary song titled, “First We Take Manhattan, Then We take Berlin.” Perhaps we way it will play out is First We take Berlin then we take Houston.

    Great news to wake up to.

  6. PSU Grad says:

    This is devastating to the deniers because they’ll be hard pressed to accuse Deutsche Bank of having a socialist or communist agenda. The Wall Street Journal editorial page will also be hard pressed to paint DB as hostile to capitalism. This is an investor owned bank that must generate an acceptable return to its shareholders. In other words, the various managing directors have to put their money where their collective mouths are.

    It looks like they’ve spoken. Loudly.

    As much as some have lambasted capitalism (sometimes for good reason), it’s this sort of analysis, sponsored by this sort of company, that will have the most impact. It was said back in the 70s that “only Nixon could go to China”. Perhaps we have a new phrase for today…”only financial institutions can convince the public about climate change”.

  7. fj2 says:

    Just as if an asteroid were to on target to destroy earth (including the United States), the same goes for extremely dangerous and accelerating environmental devastation with many forcings including most importantly, runaway climate change, and it is rapidly becoming clear that the US Department of Defense is best positioned to provide the institutional structure and leadership to coordinate the emergency response in collaboration with the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, Department of Education, strategic industries, major geophysical and scientific organizations, civilian institutions, etc., and etc.

    This is its purpose and many of the its methods will have to be adapted to the nature of the emergency demanding war-like mobilization and focus for no-less than the very survival of the United States.

  8. Dan B says:

    fj2 @6;

    If the DOD is our best hope we’re in trouble.

    I’d rather a race to the Moon / Apollo Program than Korea – Vietnam – Iraq – Afghanistan morass. The latter path leads to the total militarization of America. Remeber President Eisenhower’s warning to the American people as he departed the Oval Office nearly 50 years ago. The Military Industrial Complex does not create wealth it absorbs wealth from the “real” economy.

  9. mike roddy says:

    fj2, #6, I agree that DOD is best equipped to mobilize the resources necessary, but worry about a conflict: The military is heavily invested in fruitless wars over fossil fuels, diverting desperately needed funds for energy infrastructure transformation. I don’t see generals straying from what has become their very badly defined mission.

  10. Will Koroluk says:

    This Deutsche Bank paper is excellent! It’s a summary of all the deniers’ “objections” followed, one by one, with what science really says. Its discussion of Mike Mann’s hockey stick is one of the best I’ve seen, and illustrates just how well the system of peer review works.
    There’s nothing new in the paper for regulars on this site, but if you want a clear, concise summation of climate science, this one’s for you. Fifty pages (including 15 pages of references)in clear, concise English that anyone with a high school eduction would be able to understand.
    Thanks, Joe, for the blog alerting us to this paper’s publication. And for anyone interested, it’s a free download from:

  11. Sasparilla says:

    It’s great to see a ray of hope from something like this huge bank. We need a heck of alot more things like this, keep them coming.

    Thanks for the analysis Will (#9).

  12. fj2 says:

    #7 Dan B, Yes we are in big trouble.

    That being said, there may be ways of “handling” DoD to minimize negative aspects typical of this institutions culture.

    DoD is supposedly designed for the extreme events of war and its resources are phenomenal. No other institutions come even close.

    What would likely be required would a reinvention of DoD which would be absolutely amazing in the potential confluence of benefits which many within the institution might find extremely appealing. The scope of this is probably beyond a simple blog comment.

    The stakes are too high not to seriously consider this.

    One preliminary step might be a planned migration of resources from the various departments into a new department designed to deal with rapidly advancing environmental devastation and climate change.

  13. fj2 says:

    #8 Dan B

    Instead of militarization, to start would be advanced and extensive geophysical observation and science, the kind of stuff that Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty does on a comparatively miniscule scale: it has only two boats.

    What DoD could do on this alone would be phenomenal.

  14. fj2 says:

    #8 Dan B,

    Many in the military industrial complex may be encouraged to move to the new “environment and climate change” division even though the rules of the game and institutional DNA will be significantly different.

  15. fj2 says:

    #9 Mike Roddy,

    Not having any special knowledge of the DoD this might be a discussion that the president might have as a hypothetical with the secretary of defense.

    The president and others must play the ‘devil’s advocate’ on the part restoration of the environment and complete benevolence toward people; something like complete belief in the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.

  16. fj2 says:

    #15. fj2 continued, . . . that is, the president has not has this discussion with the DoD secretary already.

  17. fj2 says:

    #15. fj2 continued (correction), . . . this is, if the president has not had this discussion with the DoD secretary already.

  18. Frank Zaski says:

    Here are my talking points: Scientists made possible TVs, computers, cell phones, antibiotics, vaccines, rockets, satellites, nuclear and solar energy, and many others. We know they are not wrong on global warming.

    A quote, “Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98%of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC (anthropogenic climate change) outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.”

    We need 10,000 more scientists to speak out, but they don’t. Is it that scientists can’t speak on a topic if there is even a bit of uncertainty? Sounds like scientists need an article or a “study” on talking points, uncertainty and presentation approach.

  19. ToddInNorway says:

    @FrankZaski, I like your message in terms of reaching the doubters. Hard-core deniers are unreachable. But I would use AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) instead of ACC. Climate Change is a euphemism invented by the denier camp. I would also add the National Academy of Sciences in front of the IPCC.

    I do agree that scientists, researchers and engineers are in general not good enough at communicating clearly, and they do need help on this.