September 17, 2009
Investors Call for Binding Climate Change Agreement in Copenhagen
by Robert Kropp
Group of 181 institutional investors representing $13 trillion in assets says that a global
agreement is necessary for confidence in investment in climate change mitigation.
Calling on "world leaders to reach a strong post-2012 climate change agreement in Copenhagen in
December," a group of 181 institutional investors with assets under management of $13 trillion
issued a statement that outlines the risks and opportunities of climate change, and offers a number
of recommendations for inclusion in a global climate agreement.
entitled "2009 Investor Statement on the Urgent Need for a Global Agreement on Climate Change," is
available for download from the website of Ceres, a network of investors, environmental
organizations and other public interest groups that address sustainability issues. Ceres is the
coordinator of the Investor Network on Climate Risk
(INCR), a network of institutional investors and financial institutions and one of the
producers of the Investor Statement.
Other organizations involved in the production of the
Statement include the Institutional Investors Group
on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Investor Group
on Climate Change/Australia and New Zealand (IGCC), and the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).
In a press
conference convened at the International Investor Forum on Climate Change in New York City to
announce the issue of the Statement, Thomas P. DiNapoli, Comptroller of the State of New York and
head of the $116.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, said, "The vast number of
scientists agrees that climate change is real, and is accelerating. Potential economic losses due
to climate change could reach as high as 20% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Investors and
policymakers must commit the necessary resources to reducing emissions and developing a sustainable
DiNapoli continued, "The mitigation process will create significant
opportunities for sustained economic growth."
Lord Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham
Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said, "The scale of change
we have to make does entail having to make radical changes in the way we produce electricity and
use transportation. It will be a transformation of how we do things, and this is an enormous
The Statement asserts that investors will continue to play a
decisive role in the global response to climate change, because "Private capital is essential to
achieving the transformation to a low-carbon economy and for contributing to the delivery of
mitigation and adaptation measures." Yet investment decision-making has been hampered by policy
uncertainty, and a binding climate change agreement must be reached at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in
December, in order for "investors to integrate climate change considerations into their
decision-making processes and to support investment flows into a low-carbon economy and into
measures for adaptation."
Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the INCR,
said, "The successes of institutional investors have been laudable, but they are a mere drop in the
ocean of what we have to accomplish. Investors need policies that create stable market conditions.
Political leaders need to have the courage to act."
Addressing the US Senate, where
the American Clean Energy and Security Act that passed the US House of Representatives June is
under consideration, Lubber said, "Do not delay in passing critical cap and trade legislation this
fall. Do not squander this opportunity."
The Statement supports the global greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions reduction target recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Fourth
Assessment Report (AR4), of 50–85% by 2050 against a base year of 2000. Furthermore, the Statement
calls on developed countries to reduce their emissions by 80–95% by 2050, with interim emissions
reduction targets of 25–40% by 2020 against a base year of 1990. It notes that "targets for
developed countries will only be credible if backed up by clear national action plans that lay out
how different countries will meet their medium- and long-term targets."
the role of developing countries in an international agreement to address climate change must be
"fair and based on common but differentiated responsibilities," the Statement does point out that
"from an investment perspective, it is critical that developing countries, especially the highest
emitters, commit to such targets as soon as possible to reduce policy uncertainty and drive
Rob Lake of the IIGCC said, "We invest in the entirety of the
global economy. To drive money into developing countries in particular, international institutions
like the World Bank must provide risk mitigation mechanisms to enable the private sector to put
money into emerging markets."
The Statement lists a number of policy instruments that
nations should consider while enacting policies to reduce GHG emissions. Incentives to invest in
low-carbon technologies such as energy efficiency and renewable energy should be offered, and the
transfer of technology to developing countries should be encouraged.
"Emissions trading provides a cost-effective way to achieve absolute emission reductions and
significantly reduces mitigation costs," the Statement calls for the continuation of cap-and-trade
programs, as well as a review of the Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM), "to ensure the quality, scale and efficiency of emission
reductions generated in developing countries."
The CDM was created to assist developed
countries in the practice of offsetting GHG emissions from developed countries, by investment in
projects in developing countries.
Governments in developed countries should also consider
public funding mechanisms, by which "private money can be leveraged by the public sector for
technology deployment in developing countries."
Other elements of a climate change
agreement urged by the signatories of the Statement include support for measures to reverse
deforestation, and support for adaptation to the physical risks of climate change.
"Adaptation to climate change that is already locked in represents investment opportunities as
well," said Lake of the IIGCC.
But, Lake concluded, "The single most important thing that
will drive investors to investing on a larger scale in the technologies needed to address climate
change is long, loud, and legal signals from governments at a national level."