While Washington Waits, Investors Act on Climate Change
$260 billion invested in clean energy in 2011, U.S. overtakes China
NEW YORK, Jan 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Climate change creates enormous economic risks, but investors know it also represents one of the great financial opportunities of our time. And they are not waiting for government decisions before acting on that knowledge.
That was the message as 450 global investors representing four continents and more than $26 trillion in assets-- an amount equal to nearly twice U.S. GDP-- gathered today at the United Nations for the Investor Summit on Climate Risk & Energy Solutions.
'Climate change is certain to be a major factor in investments for the foreseeable future—perhaps the biggest investment factor of our lifetimes,' said Kevin Parker, global head of Deutsche Asset Management. He announced that although the pace of climate policy momentum has slowed in some countries, the global trend remains strongly positive, with 45 new carbon-reducing policies adopted worldwide in 2011 compared to four negative policy revisions.
Investors signed onto an action plan calling for greater private investment in low-carbon technologies and tougher scrutiny of climate risks across their portfolios. Investors also announced new guidelines on how companies should address climate risks and opportunities – and promised closer scrutiny of companies that ignore climate.
'Investors are acutely aware of climate impacts on the global economy and corporate bottom lines,' said Jack Ehnes, CEO of the California State Teachers' Retirement System, America's second largest public pension fund managing $146 billion in assets. 'As a matter of fiduciary duty, we must elevate our attention and action on this colossal issue. That means improving our own practices and making sure companies we own are doing the same.'
There was agreement that bigger steps are needed – from investors, companies and governments– to slow and reduce pollution that is changing Earth's climate and triggering more extreme droughts, heat waves and other catastrophic events.
'Our global carbon footprint is growing and our climate is discernibly changing,' said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which organized the summit along with the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Office for Partnerships. 'We need leaps, not baby steps, in tackling this colossal threat. And we need them now, not next year.'
Bloomberg New Energy Finance released new data showing a record $260 billion in worldwide clean energy investment in 2011, up five percent from $247 billion in 2010, and five times the total attained only seven years ago. In 2011, solar power investment surged by 36 percent to $137.5 billion. And for the first time since 2008, the U.S. overtook China in total clean energy investment. U.S. investment rose 35 percent to a record $55.4 billion, while China's investment rose one percent to $48.9 billion.
Speakers said government support for climate and clean energy investments is especially important when it comes to scaling solutions to a level that will help prevent the most damaging impacts of climate change.
Peyton Fleming, 617-733-6660, firstname.lastname@example.org