Dozens of institutional investors managing a combined $4 trillion in assets called on the US Congress to enact strong federal legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Joined by a dozen leading US companies, the investor group outlined the business and economic rationale for climate action as they called for a national policy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions consistent with targets scientists say are needed to avoid the dangerous impacts of global warming.
The group, organized by Ceres and the Investor Network on Climate Risk, issued a Climate Call to Action at a press conference in Washington DC. The 65 signers include institutional investors and asset managers such as Merrill Lynch, and the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), as well as leading corporations such as BP America, Allianz, PG&E, DuPont, Alcoa, Sun Microsystems and National Grid.
In endorsing the statement, investors and companies sent a strong message that climate policy uncertainty and the lack of federal regulations may be undermining their long-term competitiveness because it is preventing them from investing in clean energy and climate-friendly technologies and practices.
Climate change presents far-reaching risks and opportunities for businesses and investors. Some companies in sectors such as electric power, oil and automotive will face high financial risks from carbon-reducing regulations if they are not prepared to act. Insurance companies and businesses with infrastructure in places vulnerable to extreme weather events also face financial exposure. On the flip side, climate change presents significant economic opportunities for businesses that invest in new technologies and products to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Citing these trends—as well as recent scientific reports concluding that climate change is taking place and that human activities are the primary contributor—investors and companies called for the following three actions:
Leadership by the US government to achieve sizable, sensible long-term reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in accordance with the 60-90% reductions below 1990 levels by 2050 that scientists and climate models suggest is urgently needed to avoid worst case scenarios. Wherever possible, the national policy should include mandatory market-based solutions, such as a cap-and-trade system, that establish an economy-wide carbon price, allow for flexibility and encourage innovation.
A realignment of national energy and transportation policies to stimulate research, development and deployment of new and existing clean technologies at the scale necessary to achieve GHG reduction goals.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to clarify what companies should disclose to investors on climate change in their regular financial reporting.