Massive investor coalition petitions US govt on greenhouse gas cuts

Ceres and INCR signatory letter outlines three climate change policy recommendations ahead of Senate debate next month.

Investors managing hundreds of billions of dollars have warned that US politicians must radically overhaul the country’s climate change policies or risk losing the potential for business to find solutions to global warming.
A joint letter issued today by 52 of the world’s largest investors urges the Senate to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 90% below 1990 levels before 2050. It comes ahead of debates on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill that will take place early next month. In the letter to Senate majority leader Harry Reid and minority leader Mitch McConnell, the coalition of pension funds, asset managers and investment foundations, which includes the $250bn California Public employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and US state treasurers and controllers from California, Connecticut, Maryland and New York, called for the US to adopt the full emissions cuts proposed under the Lieberman-Warner bill. The investors said this would bring the US in line with reduction targets proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading body of climate experts, which has recommended that greenhouse gas levels be slashed to 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80–95% below 1990 levels by 2050. The letter was co-ordinated by Ceres, the US environmental investor coalition and the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR). Signatories said that current US climate policy uncertainty and a lack of federal regulations could undermine the long-termcompetitiveness of the companies they invest in by preventing them from making large-scale capital investments in clean energy and other low-carbon technologies.
A second recommendation called on the Senate to press US regulatory bodies – specifically, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – to issue guidance on what risks companies should be forced to disclose to investors a a result of climate change. A third urged the government to realign national energy and transportation policies to stimulate research and development into new technologies big enough to achieve the required greenhouse gas reductions. Issuing the letter at the US Chamber of Commerce, Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of INCR, said: “Investors hate uncertainty, and that’s the problem they face today. Strong and decisive action from Washington will open the floodgates on large-scale clean technology investments, enabling investors and businesses to lead instead of lag on climate change solutions.” Alain Grisay, chief executive of F&C, the UK fund manager and one of the letter’s signatories, said: “Business and investors have a very important role to play in tackling climate change but the problems won’t get solved by market forces alone. It is crucial that governments and regulators set clear long-term rules and standards to create a level playing field, allowing business to shift capital on the scale that is needed to move towards a low carbon economy.”