Delaying action climate change would be economically and environmentally disastrous, adding hundreds of billions of dollars in new costs per year. But taking aggressive steps to solve the problem could be one of the greatest wealth opportunities ever presented.
By putting a value on greenhouse gas emissions, businesses can better leverage new investments in infrastructure, innovate new technologies, and develop energy management systems to unlock the value of efficiency and conservation.
That is all happening today. But not at a fast enough pace to meet the problem.
And the world’s largest investors agree. Today, in the lead-up to the COP 17 climate talks in Durban, South Africa, 285 of the top investors representing $20 trillion in assets signed a letter of support for policy action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
Well designed and effectively implemented long-term climate change and clean energy policy (“investment-grade policies”) will not only present significant opportunities for investors in areas such as cleaner and renewable energy, energy efficiency and decarbonisation, but will also yield substantial economic benefits including creating new jobs and businesses, stimulating technological innovation, and providing a robust foundation for economic recovery and sustainable long-term economic growth.
The countries that have attracted the most investment in low-carbon technologies, renewable energy and energy efficiency have generally been those that have provided long-term certainty around the structure and incentives associated with these investments. Conversely, many countries have struggled to attract investment because they do not have appropriate policies in place, because the policies are poorly implemented or because the policies do not provide sufficient incentives for investment. A more recent concern has been the move by some governments to retroactively scale back climate change-related policies and incentives, which has deterred investment in those countries.
The policy recommendations are nothing new: consistent, robust, long-term price signals that help put a value on GHG emissions and stimulate increased investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable infrastructure. You can find the full list of recommendations in the letter issued today.
The real news is not the specific set of policy recommendations. It’s that investor support for climate action has doubled in the last three years — growing from 150 investors managing $9 trillion in assets to today’s 285 investors with $20 trillion.
As the climate problem gets worse, politicians have backed down. But the private sector continues to step up.