December 10, 2018

Investors with $32 trillion at stake sound the alarm on climate change

Investors managing assets worth $32 trillion have called on governments and businesses to step up efforts to tackle climate change.

A group of 415 investors warned Monday of an "ambition gap" between steps governments have promised to take, and the actions needed to meet goals set out in the Paris climate agreement.

The statement from the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change has been endorsed by financial heavyweights including HSBC (HSBC), Nomura Asset Management and UBS Asset Management.

The group, which controls assets worth more than twice the value of the Chinese economy, claims that its push is the single largest policy intervention from investors on climate change.

"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 group said in a statement.

The plea comes as world leaders gather in Katowice, Poland, for an annual summit on climate change.

The investor 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.

Leading on climate change can produce big gains including new jobs and investment, the group argued.

"The countries and companies that lead in implementing the Paris Agreement and enacting strong climate and low carbon energy policies will see significant economic benefits," it said.

Global investors are becoming more active in pushing companies to take meaningful actions to combat climate change.

Follow This, a Dutch activist shareholder group that helped pushed Shell (RDSA) on climate change, has started a similar campaign targeting BP.

The group announced Monday that it has filed a shareholder resolution demanding that BP (BP) sets hard targets for cutting carbon emissions. It said it will target ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) with similar resolutions.

"We keep making the same fair ask ... we request these companies to align their targets with the Paris Climate Agreement," said Mark van Baal, the group's leader.

BP said it had received the resolution and will consider it carefully.

Follow This recently scored a major victory after years of campaigns focused on Shell. The energy company said earlier this month that it would start linking executive pay to climate change goals.

"With Shell, we've seen how effective climate resolutions are," said van Baal.

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