As the next world Climate Change Summit approaches in Durban, South Africa in November, most don't expect much progress. Yet, the largest group of investors and some of the largest corporations are calling for significant action on climate change.
285 of the world's largest investors, representing assets of $20 trillion, reiterated "the calls we have made about the importance of domestic and international climate change policy in catalyzing the required levels of investment needed to transition to a low-carbon economy."
The investor group, which includes Swiss Re, HSBC, and CalPERS, wants governments to commit to short-, medium- and long-range targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, along with enforceable legal mechanisms and timelines for achieving those targets.
In their statement, they note that countries attracting the most investment in energy efficiency and renewables are those with strong, consistent, long-term policies and incentives required for investors.
That policy is essential "to shift private sector investment from high-carbon to low-carbon assets," they say.
Among their recommendations are:
- Comprehensive energy and climate change policies that accelerate deployment of energy efficiency, renewable energy, green buildings, clean vehicles and fuels, and low-carbon transportation infrastructure.
- Comprehensive policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry, land-use changes, deforestation and agriculture.
- Financial incentives that shift the risk reward balance in favor of low-carbon assets: strong, sustained price signals on carbon, well-designed carbon markets, and ending fossil fuel subsidies
The statement was sent to the G20 and other governments. It was coordinated by the Investor Network on Climate Risk, the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and the Investors Group on Climate Change in Australia and New Zealand.
272 Corporations Call on Governments
The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Network for Climate Action, which includes some of the world's largest corporations, issued a statement to the world's governments in advance of the Durban summit.
Signatories include Shell, eBay, Nestle, Vodaphone, Unilever, Alcoa, Proctor & Gamble and Johnson and Johnson. Although the corporations are based in 29 countries, 154 are from Europe, 46 in Asia, 20 in South America, and only 19 are from North America, about the same number as Africa and Australia.
It starts by saying, "As business leaders, we are committed to action on climate change, sustainable development and the green economy. Green growth offers the potential to create a more prosperous and resilient economy, and deliver innovation, new industries and jobs. We continue to broaden understanding among our peers of the economic case for green growth and the urgency of meeting the 2°C challenge."
"The window to stabilise global warming to less than 2°C has almost closed. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has shown that CO2 emissions in 2010 were the highest on record, and are still rising. While there are examples of strong policies and actions to prevent dangerous climate change, with current progress we will cross the 2°C boundary," they say.
They call on governments to immediately act on their own and to break the deadlock at Durban - or face "permanent damage to their credibility on this issue."
Corporations say it's essential to develop "a system that works with the market by placing a price on carbon that is sufficient to drive the necessary action, and has long-term stability."
Energy and resource efficiency should be prioritized, fossil fuel subsidies should be eliminated [several oil companies are members] and forests and other carbon sinks must be protected and expanded.
It ends by saying, "As business leaders, we believe the only sustainable future for our companies and for the globe is to build a robust, green, climate-resilient economy. We must continue to focus on this as we move out of economic turmoil, and not let short-term concerns, however important, drive climate change off the agenda."
The investor groups also produced a report, Investment-Grade Climate Change Policy: Financing the Transition to the Low Carbon Economy.
Here's the Investor Statement.
Here's the Corporate Statement and 2°C Challenge: