Australian super funds are among the 477 investors urging G20 leaders to step up their ambition on climate change and enact stronger policies.
Four hundred and seventy-seven investors with US$34 trillion in assets are behind the urgent call-to-action to limit average global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The statement comes ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where world leaders will gather and discuss issues facing the globe.
“As institutional investors with millions of beneficiaries around the world, we reiterate our full support for the Paris Agreement and strongly urge all governments to implement the actions that are needed to achieve the goals of the agreement, with the utmost urgency,” said the signatories.
Among the policies that the investors backed was the phasing out of thermal coal power, pricing carbon and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by set deadlines.
The investors also asked the world leaders to achieve the Paris Agreement goals by formulating long-term emission reduction strategies, align climate-related policy with the goals of the agreement and support a transition to a low carbon economy.
In 2018, 420 investors in the Investor Agenda group signed a statement urging for action but that number has now grown to 477 and includes companies like Ausbil Investment, Australian Ethical, Robeco, Aberdeen Standard and First State Super.
First State Super chief executive Deanne Stewart said that, as a large super fund, First State had a responsibility to bring about positive action on climate change to protect retirement savings.
“This aligns with the view of regulators in Australia, and internationally, who have identified climate change as a significant material and foreseeable risk and have called for immediate action.
“While we are responding on behalf of our members, this issue will require a coordinated, collective and collaborate response from governments, business and investors to ensure that critical changes are made now for the long-term interests of our members and the community,” said Ms Stewart.
Robeco’s head of active ownership, Carola van Lamoen, echoed Ms Stewart’s calls for long-term interest thinking, stating that renewables were the best way forward, both for returns and the world.
“As investors, in our view, the development of new coal power plants after 2020 puts at risk both the return on investment and the world’s chance of limiting global warming in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement,” she said.
The United Nations former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change congratulated the investors for their efforts, saying that the industry had a big role to play in supporting a climate-resilient future.
“Investors have a vital role to play in providing the trillions in capital required to support the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.
“They are showing a sentiment shared across the global community: exponential scale-up and acceleration of climate action is not a choice but a requirement and represents our best opportunities for financial stability and economic prosperity,” said Ms Figueres.
Australia is currently trailing behind many of its G20 counterparts and is under questioning by the EU about whether it will meet the Paris Agreement given its increase in coal mining.
This comes in the wake of Adani being cleared to start work on its Carmichael coal mine despite opposition and a UN report stating that Australia’s emissions continue to rise.
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