New Investor Agenda offers one-stop-shop for climate commitments

Initiative launched at Investor Summit on Climate Risk in New York

The UNEP Finance Initiative, Ceres, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change are among those who have thrown their weight behind a new initiative described as “the most comprehensive and far-reaching agenda for investors”.

The Investor Agenda was launched at the biennial Investor Summit on Climate Risk in New York this week, backed by the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change, the Investor Group on Climate Change and the CDP, as well as IIGCC, Ceres, UNEP FI and the PRI. It “identifies actions that investors can take right now in four key focus areas: Investment, corporate engagement, investor disclosure and policy advocacy”.

On its website, the Agenda proposes numerous climate commitments that investors should make. These include concrete steps such as supporting the CDP’s disclosure guidelines, phasing out investments in thermal coal, signing up to the Climate Action 100+ engagement programme and reporting in line with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure’s guidelines.

One observer tweeted it was “a bit like a superhero dream-team in the investor climate-risk space”.It also includes a call to investors, via the seven partner organisations, to “issue and actively support policy statements and other efforts to encourage governments to implement the Paris Agreement, to enhance their climate policy ambition by 2020, and to promote low-carbon investment”.

Jack Ehnes, CEO of CalSTRS, speaking at the launch event, said: “As investors, we must raise our voice and make sure lawmakers understand the business case for clean energy and reduced emissions – on both a state and federal level.” He added that this was not “just a nice-to-have”, but “a necessary extension of investors’ responsibility and fiduciary duty to act in the interests of their beneficiaries”.

Among the biggest announcements at the Investor Summit – which attracted investors with more than $30trn in assets under management – was the pledge from New York State Common Retirement Fund to allocate a further $2bn into its low-carbon index, raising the fund’s sustainable investments portfolio to $7bn. The move comes after questions were raised about whether the state would follow New York City in committing its pension funds to fossil fuel divestment.