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US investors take climate change challenge to Congress

Institutions appeal to UNPRI signatories to back lobbying on US Energy Bill.

US investors managing more than $1.4 trillion (€960bn) in assets have written to the US Congress appealing for it to toughen up standards in renewable energy and fuels in its forthcoming energy bill to be discussed in the coming weeks.
The letter, which was drafted by US socially responsible mutual fund group Calvert and CERES, the US environmental group, was signed by the Comptrollers of California, New York and the chief financial officer of the State of Florida as well as pension funds including Calpers and Calstrs.
The group, which is lobbying together under the auspices of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) has also called for signatories to the United Nations Principles on Responsible Investment to back its stance by writing supporting letters.
Before the end of the month, the US Congress will debate a series of energy options that will form the basis of future US policy on climate change and clean energy markets.
In a statement, Calvert, which manages over $15bn in sustainable funds, said: “The letter recommends specific language to improve energy efficiency, accelerate renewable energy and boost vehicle fuel economystandards. Investors have a say in creating a good policy framework that may help markets and collective advocacy helps us engage to create that.”
US institutions are becoming increasingly vocal in their efforts to influence the country’s climate change policy. In a recent testimony before the US Senate Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance and Investments, Russell Read, chief investment officer at Calpers said the Securities and Exchange Commission should oblige corporations to assess and disclose financial risks related to climate change.
Read said in his testimony that these should include risks of existing or probable regulation of greenhouse gases and potential costs from legal proceedings related to climate change: “Increasing evidence indicates that climate change presents material risks to numerous sectors of the economy and to the financial market place. These risks may include operational, market, liabilities, policy, regulatory, and reputation risk. But we cannot assess companies’ financial viability unless we know their potential exposure to climate change-related risks and potential benefits.”