Is it time to think about how climate change might impact your portfolio? Apparently, some 120 CEOs and investment managers representing more than $12 trillion in assets think so. They were worried enough to send an open letter on May 25, 2015 to the Group of Seven (G-7) Finance Ministers to urge them to commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the U.N. climate talks in Paris later this year that would limit warming to a 2° Celsius rise. Their reason? Because of the uncertaintly surrounding how bad climate change would be and how it would affect their businesses.
“As institutional investors responsible for managing the retirement savings and investments of millions of people or managing endowments, we believe climate change is one of the biggest systemic risks we face.” Along with more clarity about the future, a strong goal to reduce emission would “serve to reduce policy risk, incentivize [research and development], facilitate the deployment of new technologies and ultimately create new jobs.”
According to Emily Atkin, writing for Climate Progress, the letter from this group of CEOs was not the first group representing monetary interests to come out and demand action on climate change. Last month, a large group of major insurance companies and consumer organizations asked the United States to strengthen its disaster policies in the face of increasingly extreme weather events resulting from human-caused climate change. Some of these insurance companies have also pledged to drop their coverage of coal assets, claiming that they were too risky. Already the divestment movement has seen many institutions choose to divest from fossil fuel investments, including the Rockerfeller Foundation, the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, Stanford University, Georgtown University and many other religious, non-profit and governmental entities.
Signatories on this letter include, among many others, the Chief Financial Officer of Amherst College, the CEO of Actiam, the CEOs of CalPERS and CalSTRS, the CEO of BNP Paribas Investment Partners, the General Secretary of the Council of Lutheran Churches, the CEO of Danske Capital, the CIO of the Regents of the University of California, CEO of Pax World Management, the President of the McKnight Foundation, CEO of Mercy Health, the Comptrollers of New York City Pension Funds and the New York State Common Retirement Funds, the CEO of Trillium Asset Management, the Director of the Wellcome Trust, and the Treasurers of the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island.