Largest Investor Group Ever Calls for Strong Climate Change Agreement
October 13, 2009
Investors played a now-famous role in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s. By withdrawing their direct investments in South Africa-based companies, investors pressured the South African government to start negotiations that ultimately led to the demise of the country’s system of legal racial segregation.
Today, investors are sounding the alarm on climate change. On September 16, 2009, the world’s largest global investors issued a joint call for strong action to reduce global warming pollution and catalyze massive global investments in low-carbon technologies.
Signed by 181 investors collectively managing more than $13 trillion in assets, the statement is the most significant investor pronouncement on climate change in world history.
The statement was released at the International Investor Forum on Climate Change hosted by the UN Foundation, the U.S.-based nonprofit Ceres, the New York State Comptroller’s Office, and the Investor Group on Climate Change.
The Forum was held only a few days before UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened over 100 world leaders to discuss the issue of climate change in the run up to the December Copenhagen negotiations, where countries are slated to reach a global climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
“We must chart a new course toward long-term, sustainable business practices,” said Tom DiNapoli, head of the $116.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. “We cannot drag our feet on the issue of global climate change. I am deeply concerned about the investor risks climate change presents, and the human cost of inaction is unthinkable. As investors in the global economy, we can lead the way toward a future of lasting prosperity.”
“Investors have a crucial role to play in building a low-carbon, energy efficient global economy,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres. “But without strong policies that encourage clean technologies and discourage high-polluting technologies, their hands are tied.”
UN Foundation President Timothy Wirth moderated the forum’s opening panel which featured British economist Lord Nicholas Stern, UN Assistant Secretary-General Bob Orr, and Danish Permanent Representative to the UN Carsten Staur.
“Unmitigated climate change poses a threat to the global economy,” said Stern. “But building a low carbon economy creates opportunities for investment in new technologies that promise to transform our society in the same way as the introduction of electricity or railways did in the past.”
Global investors are slated to gather again in January at the United Nations for the 2010 Investor Summit on Climate Risk -- the fourth of its kind. Their hope is that, by then, a new global climate agreement will be in place that sends a clear signal about governments’ commitment to transitioning to a global sustainable energy economy.