A group of more than 500 major institutional investors called Thursday for governments to boost efforts to tackle climate change, warning that failure could have serious economic consequences.
The banks, insurance companies and pension funds said in a joint statement ahead of next week's U.N. climate summit in New York that current national commitments could lead to an "unacceptably high temperature increase that would cause substantial negative economic impacts."
The group includes financial giants such as France's Amundi, which manages 1.487 trillion euros ($1.64 trillion); Canada-based Manulife; and Insight Investment in the United States.
Countries that signed the 2015 Paris climate accord have committed to keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally aiming for an increase of no more than 1.5C (2.7F) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times.
But the investment firms, which together say they manage $35 trillion in assets, cited a gap between the modest steps pledged by governments — which in themselves fall short of what's needed to meet the Paris goals — and actual measures taken so far.
"This ambition gap is of great concern to investors and needs to be addressed, with urgency," the companies said. "It is vital for our long-term planning and asset allocation decisions that governments work closely with investors to incorporate Paris-aligned climate scenarios into their policy frameworks and energy transition pathways."
The investors want governments to speed up the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, back rules requiring companies to report climate-related information in their financial statements and put a meaningful price on carbon emissions.
Institutional investors have become increasingly vocal about the need to confront climate change lately.
In a separate investor-backed study released Wednesday, the London-based Transition Pathway Initiative said none of the world's top 50 oil and gas companies are in line with the Paris goal of capping global warming at 2C. By contrast, the researchers found that about 20% of the 59 electric utility companies examine are aligned with that target.
"The majority of companies have yet to establish their 2030 emission reduction targets, let alone set a longer-term vision for their carbon emissions," said Helena Viñes Fiestas, global head of stewardship and policy at France's BNP Paribas Asset Management, one of the investment firms behind the report. "We, as a major institutional investor, are concerned that transition risk — the large and growing gap between government targets and company ambitions — is a major source of investment risk."
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