Act on climate change or risk global financial instability, $32 trillion investor alliance warns

Key Points
  • A cohort of 415 global investors issued a statement on Monday calling for greater action from governments to address climate change.
  • The statement’s signatories warned failure to act with urgency would put global financial systems at risk.
  • Suggested policies included phasing out coal and creating policies that made it easier to invest in low-carbon energy.
Smoke and steam billows from Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant operated by PGE Group, near Belchatow, Poland November 28, 2018. 
Kacper Pempel | Reuters

More than four hundred investors have urged governments to act on climate change or risk the stability of their financial systems.

Lobby group The Investor Agenda (IA) issued a statement on Monday on behalf of 415 global investors, who collectively manage $32 trillion.

The statement called on world governments to step up their efforts on achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and commit to improve climate-related financial reporting. The IA also urged leaders to drive investment into low-carbon energy by taking action such as phasing out coal worldwide.

The Paris Agreement was drafted in 2015 and set out targets to help international economies work towards reducing carbon emissions.

Signatories of Monday's statement agreed that lawmakers needed to address climate change "with urgency," and warned that failing to act would create significant risks for the global economy, financial system and society.

"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," the cohort said.

"The countries and companies that lead in implementing the Paris Agreement and enacting strong climate policies will see significant economic benefits and attract increased investment that will create jobs in industries of the future."

The investors behind the statement include some of the world's biggest insurers, pension funds and asset managers. A statement was originally drawn up in July but was reissued this week with backing from a record number of signatories, in conjunction with the COP24 summit on climate change in Katowice, Poland.

The Investor Group on Climate Change, whose members manage around $2 trillion in Australia and New Zealand, was one of the organisations driving support for the statement. CEO Emma Herd said in a statement in July that Group of 20 (G-20) leaders needed to set policies that provided investors with certainty to fund a secure and affordable low-emissions energy system.

Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change – representative of $24 trillion across Europe – added: "It is vital that every signatory across the G-20 adopts policies that drive better disclosure of climate risk, curb fossil fuel subsidies, and put in place strong pricing signals sufficient to catalyze significant private sector investment in low carbon solutions."

A spokesperson for HSBC, a signatory of the statement, told CNBC via email: "Climate change is a major threat to our environment, societies and economy. HSBC is committed to supporting the transition to a low carbon economy and has made a commitment to provide $100 billion to support sustainable finance projects around the world by 2025.‎"

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