Figueres lays down $700bn low-carbon challenge to PRI signatories

Climate negotiator calls on investors to make renewables pledge by next year

This story has been updated to include comment from the PRI

Christiana Figueres, the former United Nations climate negotiator and a key architect of the Paris accord, has laid down a $700bn low-carbon investment challenge to signatories of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
She called on PRI signatories to commit to putting 1% of their assets under management into clean and renewable energy by 2020. With current assets signed up to the PRI at around $70trn, that amounts to a shift of some $700bn.
“So, my friends, that is my challenge,” said Figueres, the former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) who is now convenor of the Mission 2020 initiative. “That would get us pretty close to decarbonising $1trn a year starting in 2020,” she told the PRI in Person event in Berlin.
“We have run out of time for anything that is gradual,” she said via video link.
She called on signatories to be ready to announce it at the next PRI in Person event, which is set to take place in San Francisco in September next year.
It will run alongside a major climate event being organised in California at the same time.Such an action would put a capital ‘F’ in front of fiduciary duty, she said. It would give investors the chance to “truly be the protector of the global economy over the next few years”.
Without naming Donald Trump, Figueres described “a strange warped reality world” that surrounds the US’s announced withdrawal from the accord she helped to broker. Under the strict terms of the treaty, the US remains a signatory to Paris until November 6 2020 – just days after the next scheduled Presidential election. Figueres also noted that the US negotiator dealing with the practicalities of the treaty is being “very constructive”. Meanwhile, the real US economy also continues to decarbonise, she said.
Asked by Responsible Investor about the capacity for investing in renewable energy projects, Figueres said she had heard both that there are too many projects and too few. “The truth lies somewhere in the middle,” she concluded, adding that both investors and project developers may have been too complacent so far –
although she didn’t elaborate.
The PRI told RI it welcomed the challenge from Figueres. Managing Director Fiona Reynolds described climate change as “the number one issue for PRI signatories” and said it was working “to encourage investors to think about allocating capital to low-carbon and green finance activities”.