Investors Call For Strong International Climate Treaty

united-nationsIn advance of the UN climate conference in the Big Apple, a number of ethical investment groups representing more than $13 trillion in assets have called for climate leadership from the world’s industrial nations. At the International Investor Forum on Climate Change, a coalition of 181 investors expressed confidence that a strong and binding international treaty is vital to combating global warming and catalyzing the massive global investments needed to transition to a low-carbon world.

“We must chart a new course toward long-term, sustainable business practices,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, head of the $116.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. “We cannot drag our feet on the issue of global climate change. I am deeply concerned about the investor risks climate change presents, and the human cost of inaction is unthinkable. As investors in the global economy, we can lead the way toward a future of lasting prosperity.”

Economists from across the pond feel just as strongly.

“Unmitigated climate change poses a threat to the global economy,” said Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics. “But building a low-carbon economy creates opportunities for investment in new technologies that promise to transform our society in the same way as the introduction of electricity or railways did in the past.”

Lord Stern, a former Work Bank Chief Economist with a resume as long as my arm, is the author of the now-famous Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change which issued a social, corporate and legislative call to climate action in 2006. That bleak report, which was described by many as alarmist and which created all manner of controversy among fiscal conservatives in Gordon Brown’s cabinet, suggests that global warming is the great failure of the free market system, and that rich nations must dedicate 2 percent of GDP* to transition our world to a low-carbon economy. Stern argues that if we wait 15 or 20 years, we can expect to pay 20 percent of GDP for our sins, but results won’t be pretty, and many will suffer.

“In answering those who question why the U.S. should adopt strong climate change policies, it’s not strong enough to say we have an obligation,” said California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer. “We owe a duty to all those who come after us to act now. If we fail to lead, if we adopt the attitude that we’re not going to act until enough other nations act, we will violate that duty. And we will run an even greater risk of leaving future generations a damaged planet and diminished hopes for prosperity.”


*Stern originally argued for a 1 percent of GDP investment in mitigating climate change, but doubled that figure in 2008 based when more-recent climate studies suggested that the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report was already out-of-date, and that climate change was barreling along much faster than predicted.

Richard is a writer and editor based in Halifax, Nova Scotia who specializes in clean technology and climate change. He's the founder of One Blue Marble, a climate change activism blog and web site.

One response

  1. 1. About two thirds of deficit in the U.S. accrue from oil import.

    2. As with “Inaction” cost, $9trillion over the next decade in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, supposedly the same is of inaction on the 21st energy bill to determine war & peace, catastrophe & prosperity. For the global economy to reign in the runaway price of fossil fuels, “Sustainable Option” will be indispensable.

    3. Looking to worthless, painful and wasteful oil wars, namely, the “Original Source” of this great recession, to waste time bickering over meaningless things and drag feet on a defining energy bill are sure to shake the embryonic effect of stimulus package that is an interim measure for build-out of a new foundation.

    4. As the overall oil reserve in Middle East, let alone the rest of oil-producing areas, is on the decline more than known, the region blessed with affluent sun rays also needs to ready for a new groundwork, particularly in this context AEU is beginning to concentrate on future energy and Iranian EV is rolling out recently, the countries in the region will never stand still on the occupation, that means no matter what the result is, the repetitious mistake at the cost of invaluable lives and gigantic spending will end up with a heartbreaking tragedy once again.

    5. Facing a sharp downturn in fossil fuels all over the world, the world-wide overpopulation growing consistently is using up tremendous fossil fuels at an alarming pace. Especially when the own conventional resources in some dense countries is facing drastic dent, it adds up explicitly.

    6. For that reason, it is widely accepted that the price of fossil fuels is expected to go up and up simply, which is behind all but major states taking a bold and speedy action in a bid to put the global economy on a sustainable and solid ground.

    7. Thankfully and interestingly enough, 100s of Companies (with $13 Trillion) Are Demanding Strong Climate Deal in Copenhagen just like environmental activists, a coalition of more than 500 Global Businesses is also demanding ambitious new climate deal, and the report by Blair and the Climate Group, a London-based nonprofit organization, found a climate-change accord among all countries would spur economic growth and create as many as 10 million jobs by 2020.

    8. Currently, a 21st energy bill has passed the House and is making its way through Senate. According to CBO, this bill known as more progressive generally would trim budget deficit by $24.4 billion of a net gain.

    9. I think the world is eagerly looking forward to Americans’ participation, and if it were not for world-wide massive job creation, the world can not pull the economy out of this recession successfully.

    10. I’d say only science and innovation can meet this challenge, and the science enough for all around the globe to live in harmony is awaiting final assembly by way of innovation. It seems to me that this great recession is pitching us a serious lesson to make sure we build a bridge for future generations, otherwise, our generation, too, is falling off the cliff.

    Thank You !

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