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 September 19, 2009
Investors Worldwide Want Climate Change Treaty

 New York - The world’s largest global investors issued a joint call last week for strong action from U.S. and international policy makers in the fight against global warming.

Investors released the statement at an all-day International Investor Forum on Climate Change hosted by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and keynoted by British economist Lord Nicholas Stern.

Amid growing focus on upcoming international climate treaty talks and Congressional debate of climate and energy legislation, the global investors issued a statement calling for a strong and binding international treaty that will reduce pollution and stimulate massive global investments in low-carbon technologies.

The Statement was signed by 181 investors collectively managing more than $13 trillion in assets.

"We must chart a new course toward long-term, sustainable business practices," said 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."

"Investors have a crucial role to play in building a low-carbon, energy efficient global economy," said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which co-convened the forum. "But without strong policies that encourage clean technologies and discourage high-polluting technologies, their hands are tied."

"Unmitigated climate change poses a threat to the global economy," said Lord Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics and Special Advisor to the Group Chairman of HSBC on Economic Development and Climate Change. "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."

"... 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

The forum comes in advance of key negotiations in Copenhagen this December to ratify a new international climate change treaty after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The outcome of those climate talks depends heavily on the course of debates in the U.S. Congress on climate and energy legislation. The House passed a comprehensive bill in June and Senate consideration of a similar climate bill is expected to begin within weeks.

"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."

The statement calls for the following elements to be included in a global climate change treaty:

  • A global target for emissions reductions of 50-85% by 2050 (1990 baseline)
  • Developed country emissions reduction targets of 80-95% by 2050 with interim targets of 25-40% by 2020 backed up by effective national action plans
  • Developing country action plans that deliver measurable and verifiable emission reductions
  • Government support for energy efficient and low carbon technology
  • Measures that support the move to an effective global carbon market, including ambition caps, fair and efficient allocation of allowances and links between different trading schemes
  • Revisions to the Clean Development Mechanism to ensure real, permanent and verifiable emission reductions
  • Public financing mechanisms that leverage private sector finance for investment in developing countries
  • Measures to reduce deforestation and promote afforestation
  • Support for adaptation to unavoidable climate change impacts

Signatories to the statement include state treasurers, controllers, pension fund leaders, asset managers and foundations worldwide. To see the list of signers, visit http://www.ceres.org.

"The stage is set for a series of decisions which will be critical to how climate change investment advances post-2012," said Peter Dunscombe, Chairman of IIGCC. "To-date investment decision-making has been hampered by weak, disparate and uncertain policies, as well as short time horizons. The specific measures we have called for today will provide a much more supportive investment environment, thus enabling long-term private sector investment and liquidity essential to address climate change. Failure to act is an option which carries with it damaging consequences."

Corporate voices at the forum also echoed the investors’ call for strong climate and energy policies. "PSEG stands ready to invest in clean energy technologies and create green jobs," said Ralph Izzo, president, chairman and CEO at Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc. (PSEG). "However, strong climate policies at the national level - aligned with international commitments - are essential to successfully address the climate challenge. This includes establishing a price on carbon that will afford businesses the certainty they need to invest in a new green energy economy."

The Investor Forum was sponsored by the New York State Comptroller, Ceres, the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Investors Group on Climate Change (IGCC) Australia/New Zealand, the P8 Group, and UNEP Financial Initiative.

For More Information: PR Newswire