UN urges investors to accelerate climate action

"If you are not a climate-aware investor, then you are fundamentally not doing your job," said Brian Deese from investment firm BlackRock.

The former senior adviser to President Obama was speaking at the UN’s Investor Summit on Climate Risk in New York this week where leading organisations gathered to discuss how to accelerate the low-carbon economy.

The summit, along with being hosted by the United Nations, was attended by financial heavyweights such as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

The UN’s Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, implored investors in the room to ramp up their climate efforts and move away from their reliance on fossil fuels.

“Divesting from carbon intensive assets and aligning with the goals of the Paris Agreement is a complex realignment”, she said.

“While we see divestment from fossil fuel assets at more than $5 trillion, last year, the global community invested another $825 billion in fossil fuel use. Once again, your voice and the actions you take will speed the pace with which countries improve the consistency and alignment of their approach,” she added.

The summit did see tangible climate commitments being made, with the most notable coming from New York State. The government’s financial secretary, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, announced a $2 billion increase in the state’s low-carbon investment, tied to its pension fund. The fund has a low-emissions index which shifts investments away from the worst carbon emitters. The new investment raised its sustainable holdings to more than $7 billion.

"We've successfully shifted significant holdings to lower carbon companies without losing value," DiNapoli said. "Our state pension fund is at the forefront of the worldwide effort to build a lower carbon economy. Our investment decisions and our shareholder engagements are a caution to corporations: if they're not helping build a decarbonized future, they may get left behind. Our strategy for sustainable, lower carbon investing is working and will continue to expand".

A group of seven partner organisations, including UNEP FI, also launched the new Investor Agenda at the summit. This provides clear guidance and advice as to how the financial community can act to further the transition to a low-carbon economy. 

The summit brought together 450 leading individuals from throughout the financial community

 Header Image Credit: Daryan Shamkhali

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