Investors turn up the heat on companies over climate change

Statement intended to spur progress

By Charles Riley, CNN Business
Copyright 2019 CNN

Investors are urging governments and companies to fight climate change.

NEW YORK - Investors managing assets worth $35 trillion are sending a message to governments and companies: Do more to fight climate change.

A group of 515 investors on Wednesday urged policymakers to act with the "utmost urgency" to comply with the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which seeks to limit global warming.

"Much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks," the investors said in a statement ahead of next week's United Nations Climate Action Summit.

Signatories to the statement include some of the world's biggest pensions funds and asset managers, including the California Public Employees' Retirement System, UBS Asset Management, Allianz Global Investors and Nomura Asset Management.

The group urged governments to phase out thermal coal power and fossil fuel subsidies, and set a price for carbon emissions. They called on companies to provide more information on climate risks.

The investors control nearly half of the world's invested capital, giving them significant influence over the companies and governments best positioned to combat climate change, organizers said.

"With the immense power and influence that investors hold in our global economy, they have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to act at the urgent pace and scale required," said Mindy Lubber, CEO of Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit founded in the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, that helped to organize the campaign.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has asked governments to present more ambitious climate change plans at a summit on Monday. The goal is to cut greenhouse emissions by 45% by 2030, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

"I am also asking all investors to scale up green ventures, to increase lending for low-carbon solutions and to stop, in effect, financing pollution," he said in June.

 

Energy impact

 

A second group of investors managing $15 trillion in assets warned Wednesday that energy companies are not doing nearly enough to reduce carbon usage.

Only 31 of the top 109 energy companies are aligned with the pledges made by national governments in Paris, the Transition Pathway Initiative said. The climate agreement signed there in 2015 seeks to limit the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Just two oil and gas companies — Royal Dutch Shell and Repsol — are aligned with the Paris goals, the group said.

"This new research shows the energy sector is inching rather than accelerating towards a low-carbon future. It is not quick enough," said Adam Matthews, the co-chair of the Transition Pathway Initiative and director of ethics and engagement at the Church of England Pensions Board.

— Ivana Kottasová contributed reporting.

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