Investors Worth $20 Trillion Call For Urgent Action on Climate

Delaying action climate change would be economically and environmentally disastrous, adding hundreds of billions of dollars in new costs per year. But taking aggressive steps to solve the problem could be one of the greatest wealth opportunities ever presented.

By putting a value on greenhouse gas emissions, businesses can better leverage new investments in infrastructure, innovate new technologies, and develop energy management systems to unlock the value of efficiency and conservation.

That is all happening today. But not at a fast enough pace to meet the problem.

And the world’s largest investors agree. Today, in the lead-up to the COP 17 climate talks in Durban, South Africa, 285 of the top investors representing $20 trillion in assets signed a letter of support for policy action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

Well designed and effectively implemented long-term climate change and clean energy policy (“investment-grade policies”) will not only present significant opportunities for investors in areas such as cleaner and renewable energy, energy efficiency and decarbonisation, but will also yield substantial economic benefits including creating new jobs and businesses, stimulating technological innovation, and providing a robust foundation for economic recovery and sustainable long-term economic growth.

The countries that have attracted the most investment in low-carbon technologies, renewable energy and energy efficiency have generally been those that have provided long-term certainty around the structure and incentives associated with these investments. Conversely, many countries have struggled to attract investment because they do not have appropriate policies in place, because the policies are poorly implemented or because the policies do not provide sufficient incentives for investment. A more recent concern has been the move by some governments to retroactively scale back climate change-related policies and incentives, which has deterred investment in those countries.

The policy recommendations are nothing new: consistent, robust, long-term price signals that help put a value on GHG emissions and stimulate increased investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable infrastructure. You can find the full list of recommendations in the letter issued today.

The real news is not the specific set of policy recommendations. It’s that investor support for climate action has doubled in the last three years — growing from 150 investors managing $9 trillion in assets to today’s 285 investors with $20 trillion.

As the climate problem gets worse, politicians have backed down. But the private sector continues to step up.

11 Responses to Investors Worth $20 Trillion Call For Urgent Action on Climate

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Savvy companies have long been aware of climate risks, as is the military. The problem is not capitalism or the wealthy, but rather the oil, coal, and gas companies, which are unique in selling products that are finite and in great demand.

    It’s pretty easy to drill a hole and deliver fossil carbon to energy consumers. We learned how to do that in the 19th century. Executives in these firms are rarely technical types, but are promoted for ruthlessness. Desired qualities include the ability to circumvent pollution regulations, orchestrate greenwashing campaigns, and show willingness to bribe political leaders around the world through campaign contributions. They loathe innovation and actual business competition, and prefer cozy relationships with competitors and consumer industries such as utilities and auto companies.

    On their side are unscrupulous banks who see virtually no risk, and the extremely wealthy (and intellectually lazy) who love that income.

    It is truly a situation of the people against a tiny and greed crazed minority. The press has abdicated, talking about “energy quests”, and few have dared to speak out. It’s on us now. Let’s see if the American people can wise up and step up in time.

  2. NJP1 says:

    we want prosperity ‘now’, and we want it to continue into infinity. On a personal level we won’t sacrifice a perceived future for a problem that may on my not be real. We are all programmed to take account of ‘now’. We have enough money now, enough to eat now, the sun is shining now. We will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow arrives. Apply that thinking to climate change. Everybody, including those who make a living out of denial, knows that climate change is going to screw up the world. Some believe it could possibly put an end to man as a viable species, but it doesn’t affect our ‘now’. Climate change might be affecting the livelihood of the Inuit in the Arctic, or people dying of thirst in Ethiopia, but their plight matters little to us in real terms. Our altruism only goes as far as the collection bucket outside the local supermarket and our supermarkets are full to capacity, water flows from our taps and petrol has come out of pumps for longer than most people can remember.
    That is now our ‘normality’. Climate change is a problem for the future – anybody’s future but our own of course. In the meantime there is a succession of conferences, organized to set internationally agreed targets and ambitions, all aimed at rescuing humanity from the ravages of climate change. But all too often the only the only point of agreement at the conference table is the date of the next meeting.
    A cynic might suggest that climate change conferences have become part of the leisure industry in their own right.The human mind dismisses danger that does not present itself in raw reality, so until climate change dumps reality on our collective doorstep, either in the form of a 365 day snowstorm or heatwave that cuts off our food and fuel supplies altogether, there will never be any serious action on climate change. But of course it will be too late by then

  3. halfacow says:

    Well written NJP1

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    Romney on Addressing Climate Change

    In last night’s Republican debate, in discussing the matter of the storage of nuclear waste, Mitt Romney essentially spoke and illustrated key principles that would also apply to climate change. (Ultimately they also result in the “price signals” discussed in this post.) I’ve explained the matter in a comment under the previous post, October 19 News, so I won’t repeat myself here. But check it out. The topic, and what Romney said, and how it applies to climate change, would all make a great — and helpful — post. I don’t have the time to write one presently, but someone should. See my comment under October 19 News.

    Be Well,


  5. Mike Roddy says:

    NJP1: No. This is an Andy Revkin argument, whereby people are essentially cavemen, incapable of foreseeing the future and acting on it.

    Or, put another way: “Let’s just give up”.

    The Swedes are 43% renewable and want to get off oil completely:

    Does this mean that they are human and we aren’t, or is it vice versa?

    We’ve got to fight, or we should be ashamed of ourselves.

  6. sailrick says:

    May I suggest that people here go leave comments at the CBS article that covers this story. We need to reach those who don’t go to blogs.;accordionB

  7. Leif says:

    It is not going to stop Wall Street. You might as well get on the bus while you still have the money. You have lost all credibility and if the 99% get in power will lose all the money as well.

    Capitalism must be structured to work for all humanity, not just the hand full in gated communities.

    The 99% are not asking for anything other than sustainability for all humanity and Earth’s life support systems. Yes, there is still money to be made, and over history a LOT more, you elite will just have to share more. Suck it up!

  8. Leif says:

    One more point if I may. $20 trillion bucks is not Trump change. If we give each of the 7 billion souls on earth an equal share, that would be ~$3,000 per person. Now imagine that ever person had $3,000 worth of clean energy production handed to them and maximized for their benefit. The world over! Imagine the amount of green energy that would be produced within a year! Five,or Ten years! The factory PRODUCTION REQUIRED to satisfy the build up? The economic feed back of cash flow instead of beggars. Cash to invest other serious endeavors. All on FREE RENEWABLE ENERGY FROM THE SUN. With full employment and no need for war we could even get rid of a ton of taxes. (Who is going to attack a country that is giving $3,000 to each of your citizens. Come on, even the Taliban cannot fault that.)

    I would venture to put myself on a limb here by saying it would make Twenty Trillion Dollars look like Trump Change. (And that is not all the money the one percent have!)

    Lets hear it for the Green Awakening Economy.

  9. Edith Wiethorn says:

    Could you provide a few more hints? CP search provides seven links under “October 19 news” that have the dateline October 19, 2011 & that’s just on page one of five.

  10. paul revere says:

    “20 trillion”???
    It looks as if investors who have twenty trillion dollars to invest want SOMEONE ELSE to spend money to solve climate issues. And if wishes were horses then rides would be free…

  11. Global warming is real, and humans are causing it with environmental destruction, and pollution. This is a FACT.

    “But Andrew, volcanoes put out more pollution than human made pollution sources. Derp Derp Herp Derp.”

    All of our lives are at stake, and we cannot continue to lend credence to such dumb statements by repeating them.

    Volcanoes, and other sources of “natural pollution,” are not pollution. They are a part of nature’s regular cycle that has been going on for millions of years that has already been accounted for, and adjustments made to accommodate it. That is why volcanoes can erupt without killing everything on the planet.

    Human environmental destruction, and pollution is not accounted for, or accommodated by nature. Not only because it has not happened over millions of years, but because of the scope and volume of it.

    Pollution is not comparative.

    It is additive.

    2 + 0 = 2 (Natural Cycle)

    2 + 2 = 4 (Natural Cycle + Human Impact)

    Our planet is dying, and we will die too if we don’t do something about it.