Herd Mentality Develops in Run-Up to Paris Climate Talks

A ¨herd¨ mentality has once again developed in the run-up to this year's climate change treaty negotiations in Paris. If the goal is simply to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect ecosystems and improve socioeconomic justice and equity, a ready-made solution is readily available.

A picture taken on January 14, 2015 shows the logo of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference, the Cop 21 summit in Paris, on January 14, 2015.   AFP PHOTO /JACQUES DEMARTHON
A picture taken on January 14, 2015 shows the logo of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference, the Cop 21 summit in Paris, on January 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO /JACQUES DEMARTHON

Prominent government and global business leaders have been stepping up and pledging to allocate substantial amounts of financial capital, and other resources, to climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives in recent weeks in the run-up to the opening of the UN climate change conference in Paris on last week.

The highest profile was announced on November 29 on the eve of the climate conference's opening. The leaders of 20 countries, including China, the U.S. and India -- the three largest in terms of greenhouse gas emissions -- announced they would double national clean energy R&D spending to $20 billion.

Coincidentally, led by Bill Gates 25 of the world's wealthiest, including Sir Richard Branson, George Soros and Ratan Tata, announced the launch of the Breakthrough Energy Partnership. Billed as ¨the world's largest [private sector] clean energy research and development partnership, according to one report Gates and other billionaires will commit multiple billions of dollars ¨to assist the cooperative projects¨ that result from the aforementioned national clean energy R&D initiatives.

Adding to all this, on November 27 a coalition of more than 400 investment companies responsible for managing more than $24 trillion of assets signed what's called the ¨Global Investor Statement on Climate Change.¨ Highlighting the large gap in the amount of investments at present dedicated to forging low-carbon, climate-resilient economies and societies and that projected to avoid a postulated 2ºC ¨tipping point,¨ the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) calls for ¨stronger political leadership and more ambitious policies.¨

A climate change pledge stampede

Notable for UN climate change treaty negotiators and government leaders, among other recommendations IIGCC calls for the institution of ¨stable, reliable and economically meaningful carbon pricing that helps redirect investment commensurate with the scale of the climate change challenge.¨

climate-performance-off-track

Raising the capital required to avoid a postulated 2ºC climate change ¨tipping point¨ continues to serve as one of the main obstacles and source of debate at this year's UN climate change treaty talks, particularly between ¨developed¨ and ¨developing¨ countries.

In addition to the institution of carbon pricing, IIGCCC calls on governments to:

  • Strengthen regulatory support for energy efficiency and renewable energy, where this is needed to facilitate deployment.
  • Support innovation in and deployment of low carbon technologies, including financing clean energy research and development.
  • Develop plans to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels.
  • Ensure that national adaptation strategies are structured to deliver investment.
  • Consider the effect of unintended constraints from financial regulations on investments in low carbon technologies and in climate resilience.

IIGCC members committed themselves to helping support and follow through on the institution of these policy measures by doing the following:

  • Work with policy makers to support and inform their efforts to develop and implement policy measures that encourage capital deployment at scale to finance the transition to a low carbon economy and encourage investment in climate change adaptation.
  • Identify and evaluate low carbon investment opportunities that meet our investment criteria and consider investment vehicles that invest in low carbon assets subject to our risk and return objectives.
  • Develop our capacity to assess the risks and opportunities presented by climate change and climate policy to our investment portfolios, and integrate, where appropriate, this information into our investment decisions.
  • Work with the companies in which we invest to ensure that they are minimizing and disclosing the risks and maximizing the opportunities presented by climate change and climate policy.
  • Continue to report on the actions we have taken and the progress we have made in addressing climate risk and investing in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change adaptation.

Once again, a climate change action ¨herd¨ mentality has developed coincident with the annual UN climate change conference. If the goal is simply to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect ecosystems and improve socioeconomic justice and equity, a ready-made solution i easily available.

With all the billion-dollar climate change investment initiatives, it would seem possible to install clean, efficient and affordable solar PV-battery storage systems across urban and rural areas on a massive scale worldwide. As pioneering companies in both ¨developed¨ and ¨developing¨ countries have shown, appropriate systems scales and means of financing can be tailored that makes solar-PV storage accessible to even the financial poorest.

*Image credits: 1) UNFCCC; 2) New Climate Economy

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Thomas Schueneman
EditorThomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
EditorThomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
EditorThomas Schueneman
Gina-Marie Cheeseman
EditorGina-Marie Cheeseman